That was the attempt by the Bush Administration and Senator John McCain (for amnesty) that was roundly defeated by a massive grassroots effort that I see as the real beginning of the Tea Party movement that ultimately coalesced in 2009.
In 2007, America First Conservatives (although we didn’t know that is really who we were) got a taste of citizen power in defeating that bill (later to be resurrected by the Gang of Eight/Marco Rubio bill that passed the Senate in 2013, but died in the House).
Imagine my surprise to see this story at Vox on Saturday that tells us that Senator Bernie Sanders and then Senator Hillary Clinton were on opposite sides of the debate over one important provision of the Bush-driven legislation.
Sanders was worried about the guest workers provision that could cause American workers to lose their jobs and followed the lead of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that saw the foreign workers (who would be admitted if the bill had become law) as “slave labor.”
Holy cow! I’m on the same side as Bernie Sanders and the SPLC on something!
On many occasions over the years at RRW, I and my readers (see one guest post here), have said that very same thing—refugees are slave laborers for big corporations that need cheap (captive) workers to boost their bottom lines. And, that is why there is so much resistance from some elected Republicans to rein any of it in—they get campaign contributions from big companies (often foreign-owned) and political power from Chambers of Commerce to keep the immigrant labor flow coming.
So here is Vox, read the whole thing:
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders differ on how to get things done.
Clinton has billed herself as a pragmatist, willing to take the compromises that are available. Sanders, meanwhile, has positioned himself as an idealist more interested in reinventing the system than in slightly improving it.
This dynamic became clear again during Thursday night’s Democratic debate on PBS and CNN, when Clinton went after Sanders for opposing a 2007 bill that would have bolstered border security and given millions of undocumented immigrants some form of legal status.
“I voted for comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. Sen. Sanders voted against it at that time,” Clinton said. “I think we have to get to comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.”
Sanders countered: “The Southern Poverty Law Center, among other groups, said that the guest worker programs that were embedded in this agreement were akin to slavery. … Akin to slavery — where people came into this country to do guest work were abused, were exploited.”
For one telling of the history of that 2007 Senate debate between the Clinton/Bush position and the Sanders view of things, continue reading.