WASHINGTON — The Senate scuttled a bill to overhaul the immigration system Thursday, which may postpone action until after the 2008 elections.
The bill's supporters failed to get the 60 votes required to cut off debate on the legislation and advance it for final consideration and passage. Forty-six senators voted in favor of limiting debate, with 53 in opposition.
The vote was a setback for President Bush, who had made immigration reform his top domestic priority.
"Legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people and Congress' failure to act on it is a disappointment," Bush said in remarks prepared for delivery at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. "The American people understand the status quo is unacceptable when it comes to our immigration laws. A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn't find a common ground — it didn't work."
The bill would give citizenship to most of the estimated 12 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, crack down on employers who hire them, stiffen penalties against those employers, establish a guest worker program and provide billions of dollars in additional funding for border security.
The emotionally charged issue created deep fissures among Democrats and Republicans. Many in the GOP said the bill amounted to amnesty, and it drew fire from Democrats for placing emphasis on a merit-based point system for citizenship status instead of family ties.
Despite the vote, speculation persisted about whether Senate leaders would try to revive the bill a third time this year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), who pushed for the measure, said the vote "is really disheartening to me."
Retail groups lobbied aggressively against several of the bill's provisions, including mandatory electronic verification of new employees within 18 months and a reverification of the entire company workforce within three years. In addition, the bill would increase the maximum penalty for a pattern of hiring illegal workers to $75,000 per employee from $3,000 and lower the liability standard.
"At first blush, retailers will look and say, ‘Well, we're not faced with retroactive verification of 23 million employees and we're not faced with an increase in liability,'" said Steve Pfister, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation. "But I think if people look at the issue in the broader sense and the fact that we need to get our arms around this burgeoning problem with immigration, I think people may conclude that it was a shame the Senate couldn't work its will and get a final up or down vote and let people be on the record as for or against the bill."Pfister said retailers in border states would have a different reaction to the defeat as opposed to retailers in Nebraska.
"People are all over the board on this," he said.
Faith Cristol, vice president of workforce and tax at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, of which Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is a member, said, "I think our concerns were not altogether addressed so it was perhaps in retailers' best interest not to move forward."
Bruce Raynor, general director of UNITE HERE, the main apparel and textile union, said, "We've got at least 12 million undocumented workers who are honest people working hard for employers who want them and need them, and now they will have to live in fear of our government."
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews