The Senate immigration reform proposal introduces a dramatic change to the legal immigration system by eliminating visa categories that allow U.S. citizens to petition for their families to reunite with them on American soil. The immigration bill instead creates a points system for visa distribution that prioritizes work skills over family connections.
Last night during the Senate floor debate on immigration, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) introduced an amendment that called for sunsetting this points system method after 5 years to reevaluate its efficacy. The mild amendment provoked a furious outrage from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Graham took to the floor after Obama spoke, and began gesticulating wildly and screaming in anger. “This is why we can’t work together,” Graham said. “Some people on the left and right consider [the bill] heresy, and we’re giving in if we pass this amendment.” Shaking the amendment in his hand, Graham added, “This amendment says that bipartisanship doesn’t have the ‘bi’ in it. .. You’re gonna destroy this deal.” Watch it:
Reacting to Graham’s hyperventilation on the Senate floor, Obama said, “It’s a matter of too much coffee and people being on the floor too long.” It also reflects the fact that right-wing opposition to the bill is cracking the conservative base.
Graham’s furor is better directed at his right flank, who have fractured the bipartisan coalition on immigration reform with cries that it is amnesty. Graham said Obama’s amendment would undercut “everybody over here who’s walked the plank and told our base, ‘You’re wrong.’” It appears Graham is cracking under right-wing pressure and is blaming it on the left.