Dianne Feinstein on Immigration

Last Updated : Sep 25, 2012

Summary

Senator Feinstein has been a strong supporter of immigration reform through the DREAM Act, comprehensive immigration reform, AgJobs, or several other pieces of legislation. She has opposed the idea that this is amnesty as these programs can sometimes require a fine or a waiting period while amnesty requires nothing. She often discusses the need for agricultural labor in the US, the need to bring people out of the shadows, and the need to ensure that illegal aliens who attended US schools throughout their lives be allowed to continue their education in colleges and enter the work force. She has asserted that border control and immigration enforcement has been achieved and that in 2009-2010 there were more border agents than at any previous time.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

As the comprehensive immigration reform process began in May of 2006, Senator Feinstein supported the legislation noting that it had strong border security provisions, the AgJobs program, and new visa authorization. She stated that she opposed the tiered structure in the path to citizenship and would work for a full path. This tiered structure required those here less than a certain time to return home and granted varying levels of status based upon the lenght of time each person had resided within the US. She stated that it was neither wise, nor realistic to round up millions of people . . . and send them across the border.

A year later, Senator Feinstein strongly supported the final version of the legislation. She noted in a floor speech that a deal was reached to address teh 12 million illegal aliens and stated that the more ICE agenst pick up people in the workplace for deportation, the more you see the inequality and injustice. She noted the compromises made to address the major concerns of the American people in immigration enforcement, employment enforcement, the Z visa provisions, the path to citizenship for those already present, greed card reform, and agricultural reform.

In addressing reform, Senator Feinstein asserted that the citizenship path laid out was not amnesty as amnesty is defined as automatically giving those who broke the law a clean slate no questions asked while this legislation required them to wait 8 years and potentially pay a fine. She stated that deportation of illegal aliens was not practical nor reasonable as many of those individuals and families who have become integrated into the fabric of their communities. She discussed the need to bring people out of the shadows.

As the legislation failed to pass, Senator Feinstein stated that many people simply did not understand the contents of the legislation and that large amounts of the bill is dedicated to enforcing our borders. She stated that the current system amounted to amnesty as US laws are not enforced and people are allowed to remain indefinitely.

Orange Cards

During the debate over comprehensive reform, Senator Feinstein proposed an orange card system. This system would have had illegal aliens register with Homeland Security, pay a fine, submit biometric data, pass a background check, and work for six years before having their status adjusted to legal.

AgJobs

Senator Feinstein has supported the AgJobs program as both a separate entity and as part of comprehensive immigration reform packages. She stated that due to a shortage of labor, some farmers aren’t planting and others are moving away from high labor crops, like strawberries, and bell peppers.

The DREAM Act

In 2007, Senator Feinstein stated that we must do all we can to encourage hard working young people who may be illegal to get a good education to fulfill the American Dream and that the DREAM Act does just that. She spoke about a student who was not in the country legally who was attending college on a full scholarship and asserted that the student in question had demonstrated a strong commitment to the ideals of citizenship in this country.

Supporting the legislation again in 2010, Senator Feinstein noted that roughly 65,000 illegal aliens graduate from US high schools every year and that those students came to this country as children. They cannot continue their careers due to their legal status and the DREAM act would give them that opportunity.

 

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

In May of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her support for the passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

 

Orange Card Plan

In May of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her intention to introduce an orange-card immigration plan. She also spoke on the Senate floor about the plan.

 

Seat belts on Immigrants

In July of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting legislation that she was introducing with Senator Snowe to ensure that illegal aliens that work in agriculture are required to wear seat belts and be transported in vehicles capable of providing such belts.

 

Support for Agricultural Jobs Reform

In September of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting a floor speech she gave concerning the need to deal with a lack of agricultural workers in California. In May of 2007, Senator Feinstein spoke about her desire to see the agJOBS legislation included in the comprehensive immigration reform bill. 

In November of 2007, Senator Feinstein noted that she had intended to introduce the AgJOBS legislation into a recent farm bill, but was unable to do so.

 

Support for Border Tunnel Legislation

In September of 2006, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her support for the passage of the Border Tunnel Prevention Act.

 

Reimbursement for Illegal Aliens

In May of 2007, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting legislation that she was introducing that would require the quick reimbursement of California by the federal government for the cost of illegal aliens.

 

Describing Comprehensive Reform

On May 23, 2007 Senator Feinstein spoke on the Sente floor describing the proposed comprehensive election reform and why she supports it.

 

Comprehensive Reform - Failure of Vote

On June 7, 2007 Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor after a vote failed to pass the comprehensive reform package.

 

Immigration Discussion

On June 27, 2007 Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor about the overall topic of immigration. She answered questions put forth by Senator Kennedy.

 

People Don't Understand the Bill

On June 28, 2007 Senator Feinstein spoke on the Senate floor in support of the Comprehesive immigration reform bill and stated that the bill failed largely because people did not understand the contents of the legislation.

 

DREAM Act 2007

In October of 2007, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her disappointment that the DREAM Act failed to be brought up for a vote in the Senate.

 

Reimbursement to States for Incarceration

In February of 2008, Senator Feinstein released another statement noting two more pieces of legislation that she was introducing to require the reimbursement of "criminal" illegal aliens.

 

DREAM Act - 2010

In December of 2010, Senator Feinstein released a press statement noting her support for the passage of the DREAM Act.

 

Practical Answers for Immigration Reform

In April of 2010, Senator Feinstein spoke at a press conference about what she called practical answers to immigration reform. This included the AgJobs legislation that she had previously supported. In the speech, Senator Feinstein asserts that the border is more secure than ever before and that the US has met the concerns people had a few years ago when a comprehensive bill was passed.

 

Official Website Statements 

 

Voting Record

Funding for Sanctuary Cities

Sactuary cities are those that allow illegal immigrants to reside within their borders with the understanding that the local government with not seek to determine immigration status or enforce the federal mandates concerning immigration. Senator Vitter put forth an amendment to create a reserve fund to hold money that would normally go to these sanctuary cities. On March 13, 2008, a motion was put forth to "table" or remove the amendment from consideration. Virtually all Democrats, and about 1/4 of the Republicans in office agreed to remove the amendment from consideration in a 58-40 vote. Dianne Feinstein voted to table the amendment, and therefore supported the sanctuary city policy.

Dianne Feinstein voted to table the amendment, and therefore supported the sanctuary city policy.

The DREAM Act

When the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill failed to pass, several members of congress attempted to achieve the same goal by passing the individual pieces of legislation that comprised the Reform Package. The DREAM Act was one such piece of legislation that grants citizenship to those that came to this country prior to the age of 16. Although the Bill got some support from both Democrats and Republicans, it too failed to pass the Senate in a 52-44 vote. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the DREAM Act.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the DREAM Act.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

In June of 2007, Congress attempted to pass the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. The bill iteself was a series of smaller pieces of legislation which established the requisites for people living in the US illegally to obtain amnesty. The bill also sought to grant other rights to illegal immigrants prior to and after they become citizens. Despite a massive Public Relations campaign to promote the legislation, the bill got no Republican support and roughly 2/3 of the support of the Democrats. The bill was rejected in the Senate in a 61-34 vote. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill.

The Secure Fence Act

The Secure Fence Act passed the Senate in 2006, and required the director of homeland security to take operational control over certain areas along the border in an effort to cut down on both violence and illegal immigration. The enjoyed broad support and passed the Senate in an 80-19 vote. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act.

Immigration Reform Act of 2006

In 2006, the Senate attempted to pass an immigration reform bill. S 2611 passed the Senate in a 62-36 vote with the support of about 40% of the Republicans and all but 4 Democrats. Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Immigration Reform Act of 2006.

Dianne Feinstein voted in favor of the Immigration Reform Act of 2006.

 

Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

Session-111; Bill Number-S 205; Southwest Border Violence Reduction Act of 2009 - Cosponsor

Directs the Attorney General to: (1) to expand resources for the Project Gunrunner initiative of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to identify, investigate, and prosecute firearms trafficking across the U.S.- Mexico border; and (2) provide ATF agents, equipment, and training to assist Mexican law enforcement officers in combating firearms trafficking and other criminal enterprises.

Session-111; Bill Number-S 729; Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2009 or the DREAM Act of 2009 - Cosponsor

Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to repeal the denial of an unlawful alien's eligibility for higher education benefits based on state residence unless a U.S. national is similarly eligible without regard to such state residence. Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to cancel the removal of, and adjust to conditional permanent resident status, an alien who: (1) entered the United States before his or her 16th birthday and has been present in the United States for at least five years immediately preceding enactment of this Act; (2) is a person of good moral character; (3) is not inadmissible or deportable under specified grounds of the Immigration and Nationality Act; (4) at the time of application, has been admitted to an institution of higher education or has earned a high school or equivalent diploma; (5) from the age of 16 and older, has never been under a final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal; and (6) was under age 35 on the date of this Act's enactment. Sets forth the conditions for conditional permanent resident status, including: (1) termination of status for violation of this Act; and (2) removal of conditional status to permanent status. Authorizes an alien who has satisfied the appropriate requirements prior to enactment of this Act to petition the Secretary for conditional permanent resident status. Provides for: (1) exclusive jurisdiction; (2) penalties for false application statements; (3) confidentiality; (4) fee prohibitions; (5) higher education assistance; and (6) a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report respecting the number of aliens adjusted under this Act.

Session-110; Bill Number-S 774; DREAM Act of 2007 - Cosponsor

Amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to repeal the denial of an unlawful alien's eligibility for higher education benefits based on state residence unless a U.S. national is similarly eligible without regard to such state residence. Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to cancel the removal of, and adjust to conditional permanent resident status, an alien who: (1) entered the United States before his or her sixteenth birthday, and has been present in the United States for at least five years immediately preceding enactment of this Act; (2) is a person of good moral character; (3) is not inadmissible or deportable under specified grounds of the Immigration and Nationality Act; (4) at the time of application, has been admitted to an institution of higher education, or has earned a high school or equivalent diploma; and (5) from the age of 16 and older, has never been under a final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal.

Session-109; Bill Number-S 2075; DREAM Act of 2005 - Cosponsor

A bill to amend the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 to permit States to determine State residency for higher education purposes and to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain alien students who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children, and for other purposes.

Session-108; Bill Number-S 1545; Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2003 - Cosponsor

Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to cancel the removal of, and adjust to conditional permanent resident status, an alien who: (1) entered the United States prior to his or her sixteenth birthday, and has been present in the United States for at least five years immediately preceding enactment of this Act; (2) is a person of good moral character; (3) is not inadmissible or deportable under specified criminal, security, smuggling, or illegal entrant or immigration violator grounds, with certain age-related exceptions; (4) at the time of application, has been admitted to an institution of higher education, or has earned a U.S. high school or equivalent diploma; and (5) from the age of 16 and older, has never been under a final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal. Authorizes waiver of certain grounds of deportability or ineligibility for humanitarian, family or public interest reasons. Prohibits removal of an alien whose conditional status application is pending. Sets forth continuous presence provisions.

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