Klobuchar, Coleman help revive immigration bill

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Minnesota senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Norm Coleman, a Republican, today joined 62 other senators to revive the stalled immigration reform bill in the U.S. Senate. The move comes after the bill failed to gain momentum in the Senate just 20 days ago.

Senators are expected to introduce two dozen amendments to the legislation in the next few days. But some of them pledged to stymie the bill if their proposals are blocked.

Coleman’s office said that though the senator voted to resume debates on the bill today, he’s reserving his final judgment pending the outcome.

Earlier, the Senate rejected Coleman’s proposal to encourage local and state employees to help enforce immigration laws — a move seen as a direct challenge to Minneapolis and St. Paul’s separation ordinances. Coleman is expected to introduce a modified version of that proposal.

President Bush, who made the immigration reform bill a key legislative target, lobbied Republican senators who were reluctant to support the measure. Many of them feel that the bill doesn’t focus on enforcement and that it equals amnesty.

In exchange, Bush offered $4.4 billion in spending on border protection.

If passed, the immigration bill would create a legalization path for most of the 12 million undocumented immigrants. It would also tighten borders and create new visa categories for skilled immigrants, who will get the priority from family-based immigration.

The Senate could pass the measure as soon as next week. Still, the bill could face another hurdle in the House, where more members are planning to inject their proposals.