Wednesday and Thursday saw Senate approval of four good immigration amendments to the Homeland Security appropriations bill — not silver bullets that will solve everything, but real steps in the right direction nonetheless. A measure sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions would permanently reauthorize E-Verify and require federal contractors to use it (the similar contractor rule hyped by the administration is much narrower and riddled with loopholes). This amendment had failed in March by a vote of 47–50, but passed this week 53–44, with eight Democrats switching from no to yes votes (and two switching the other way). Every single Republican voted for it. A measure to require completion of the border fencing passed 54–44, and two other amnedments passed by voice vote — i.e., unanimously: one requires implementation of the Social Security No-Match Rule (overturning the administration announcement Wednesday to rescind the rule), while the other would permit employers to screen their existing workforce with the E-Verify system, which now may be used only for new hires.
I expect that Pelosi and Reid have already agreed to strip these amendments out in conference, but their approval suggests two things: The Democrats understand perfectly well that voters want more enforcement, and second, that Schumer wants to be able to point to votes like this as satisfying the need for enforcement, so can we finally move on to the amnesty now? Of course, even if these measures aren't killed in conference, until they pass judicial muster and are institutionalized, they don't amount to much, and certainly not a justification for amnesty.