(Update II: The Tribune is posting live Chicago marcha updates, here for link.)
In Wednesday's La Opinion, LA immigrant march organizer Juan Jose Gutierrez stated what seems obvious, but has gone unspoken: the Sensenbrenner bill and its criminalization of the undocumented, is no longer being considered by the Senate:
Aunque algunas de las organizaciones han convocado un paro similar para el próximo día 10 de abril con el propósaito de protestar por el proyecto de ley HR4437, Gutiérrez considera que ese aspecto “ya está derrotado” y un paro nacional el día 1 de mayo que exija la “amnistía inmediata” tendría mucho mayor impacto…
“Tenemos que seguir insistiendo. Estamos viviendo días dramáticos en los que no podemos bajar la guardia, y [los senadores] deben darse cuenta de este tremendo impacto y de que hemos movido a más de un millón de inmigrantes en Los Ángeles”, dijo Gutiérrez.
On the other hand, there is scuttlebutt that Tancredo and his supporters may attempt to attach their criminalization provisions as riders on spending authorization or other key legislation.
Meanwhile, the Post reports that Republicans in the Senate have reached an agreement with a 5 year provision. The proposal would:
allow undocumented workers a path to lawful employment and citizenship if they could prove — through work stubs, utility bills or other documents — that they have been in the country for five years. To attain citizenship, those immigrants would have to pay a $2,000 penalty, back taxes, learn English, undergo a criminal background check and remain working for 11 years.
[The part that sounds new to me:]Those who have been here a shorter time would have to return to one of 16 designated ports of entry, such as El Paso, Tex., and apply for a new form of temporary work visa for low-skilled and unskilled workers. An additional provision still under consideration would disqualify illegal immigrants who have been in the country less than two years.
The Hagel-Martinez proposal makes recent immigrants the key issue. The question is, as Jonathan Weisman lays it out, whether Harry Reid and the Democrats will continue to advocate legalization for all:
If the compromise fails, the Senate will leave Washington this weekend for a two-week spring recess and nothing to show for a fortnight of heated debate. That would allow organizers of a national protest Monday against a crackdown on illegal immigration to build pressure on lawmakers to support the McCain-Kennedy measure, which would allow virtually all illegal immigrants, no matter how long they have been in the United States, to stay and work toward citizenship.
That brings us back to Juan Jose Gutierrez, who described the
hemispheric global plans for the May 1 Day Without Immigrants:
El coordinador del Movimiento Latino USA, que además expresó que espera el respaldo de millones de personas incluyendo a sindicatos, jóvenes y comunidades religiosas, considera que la convocatoria lanzada a la comunidad inmigrante y sus partidarios para el mes que viene resulta “un golpe estratégico de cuatro puntos” en los que “nadie tiene que ir a trabajar, que los estudiantes no vayan ese día a las escuelas, no se compre nada, y no se venda nada”. Incluso el llamado se ha hecho también fuera de las fronteras.
“Nuestro pueblo está en la efervescencia y tiene que ganar la igualdad en esta sociedad para que se pueda integrar con los mismos derechos. Por eso hemos solicitado a México y a toda América Latina que se unan al mensaje, porque tiene repercusiones globales”, señaló el líder del movimiento.
(If 500,000- 1 million marchers in LA got Sen. Feinstein to support the legalizations, what could a successful May 1 international paro do? Or an unsuccessful one?)
UPDATE: The NY Times suggests that the Democrats are moving towards the Hagel-Martinez proposal:
There were signs, though, that some of Mr. Kennedy's allies among business and immigrant advocacy groups were throwing their support behind the compromise proposal.
The leaders of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, which represents hotels, restaurants and other service industries, said a limited legalization would be better than a bill that focused solely on tightening border security.
And this from McCain:
"This is one of the greatest challenges we face in our time, securing our borders, taking 11 million people out of the shadows who are exploited every day, fulfilling the job requirements we all know are necessary to ensure the economic future," Mr. McCain said.
"Americans are passionate in general," he said, "but this issue has brought passion few of us have seen in this country — in Los Angeles, New York City and around the nation. It seems we owe every American a resolution to this issue. Could we please move forward?"
(I haven't head anything lately from McCain's high profile Dem counterparts, Sens. Clinton and Obama.)