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Budget Votes Expected to Highlight Immigration Debate

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sessions, left, may offer amendments on immigration during the Senate’s budget vote-a-rama.

“We need to be protecting American citizens who are here, out of work, hurting today,” Sessions said in a floor speech Friday. “Minorities, blacks and whites, and all colors and race that are hurting today with high unemployment and we seem to be more focused on how we can ram through this Senate a bill that would legalize millions and create an even more robust guest worker program.”

But immigration advocates are concerned by the amendment.

“That would include the earned income tax credit, child and the American opportunity tax credit, as well as many others,” Miranda said. “So we are extremely concerned about that especially the child tax credit, it’s so important.”

Miranda said it sends a mixed signal that immigrants are encouraged to pay their taxes yet the amendment would single them out in the tax code.

Miranda said the “extreme” amendment “would change the tax code just for them so that they are ever excluded from the benefit ... and would have bad effects on child poverty.”

In the past, some lawmakers have sought to limit individual benefits to illegal immigrants, but the blanket approach covering all tax credits is new.

Vitter has an amendment that would limit eligibility of the child tax credit to citizens. It’s is unclear which, if any, of his amendments he will offer.

The Louisiana Republican argues that his amendments are needed, given the lack of progress made on securing the border and the ever-growing budget deficit.

“There is no guarantee that the current administration or any in the future will achieve operational control of our borders absent serious pro-enforcement legislation in Congress,” Vitter said in a release Thursday. “This administration has yet to even produce a budget this year, but I have some common sense reforms that would make sense both fiscally and to enforcement immigration laws. Congress continues to drag its feet on serious immigration reform, so I’ve introduced targeted amendments that can help solve our illegal immigration problem and avoid amnesty by putting enforcement first.”

Sessions also may offer an amendment that would prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from partnering with foreign embassies.

Currently, the USDA works with foreign consulates to help provide information about eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to Jennifer Ng’andu deputy director, health policy project for National Council of La Raza.

“What they are, sort of, claiming is that it’s being directed to people who are ineligible for the benefit, and of course that’s not true,” Ng’andu said.

Sessions has also filed an amendment that would prevent illegal immigrants, or illegal immigrants granted legal status, access to federally subsidized health care.

Vitter has an amendment that would prevent any change in status for illegal immigrants until the Department of Homeland Security entry-exit biometric visa system is fully implemented at every land, sea and air port.

He also has an amendment that would require a fee on remittances for customers who wire money to another country but cannot prove that they are in the United States legally. The fee would be used to enhance border security.

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