May 23, 2006

Senator Feinstein’s (D-CA) “Orange Card” amendment failed by roughly a 2-1 differential today in the Senate.  The Orange Card amendment would have eliminated S.2611’s three-tiered approach to immigration reform based on an immigrant’s length of residence in the U.S. and replaced it with a single program open to all immigrants residing in the U.S. as of January 1, 2006.  Senator Feinstein was rightly concerned about the complexity of the three-tiered approach and its incentive for massive fraud, which her amendment would largely have eliminated.  In my opinion, the Orange Card would be the most workable policy solution.  However, passage of the Orange Card amendment would undoubtedly have made a difficult conference committee even more contentious and further endangered the prospects of getting any type of positive immigration reform out of the House.  The Senate vote indicates that the Orange Card amendment was outside of the “middle ground” that has proved successful thus far in the Senate debate.  At the end of the day, the Senate may have avoided a “poison pill” by voting down the Orange Card amendment and retaining the three-tiered approach that favors long-term residence in the U.S.