Democrats aren't impressed with Kennedy's immigration deal.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in a statement expressed serious concern over Kennedy's agreement:
Their agreement can serve as a starting point for the Senate debate next week. I have serious concerns about some aspects of this proposal, including the structure of the temporary worker program and undue limitations on family immigration. We need to improve the bill as it moves through the legislative process.In remarks on the Senate floor, Reid questioned whether "we're going to be able to pass it."
Only two Democrats, Ken Salazar of Colorado and Dianne Feinstein of California, stood beside Kennedy when he announced his immigration deal. Seven Republican senators and two Cabinet secretaries joined the three Democrats.
According to Bloomberg, Democrats expressed doubts over provisions to create a temporary-worker program and to reduce the emphasis on uniting families when deciding which legal immigrants are admitted to the U.S.
New York Senator Charles Schumer said, "There are a lot of Democrats who want to see it improved." New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez called Kennedy's deal "far to the right" last year's Senate immigration reform effort.
Maryland Senator Ben Cardin expressed concern, saying low-wage workers seeking to reunite with their families could suffer.
John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO condemned Kennedy's deal, saying it strikes at "the reunification of families" and expands temporary-worker programs that can amount to "virtual servitude."
Democratic presidential frontrunners, Senators Clinton and Obama and former Edwards reacted cautiously. Hillary said she will study the proposal to make sure it "does not lead to the creation of a new underclass in our country." Obama, told reporters the temporary-worker plan and the merit-based point system must be "carefully examined" to ensure they are "just and humane." Edwards said he had concerns about parts of the proposal, including a “poorly conceived guest worker program.”
West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd said, "We should not give a blanket amnesty to illegal immigrants who want to flaunt the laws of this land."
According to The Ledger, North Dakota Senator Byron L. Dorgan said he would offer an amendment to eliminate the guest worker program from the bill.
House Democrats likewise don't seem to like Kennedy's deal.
Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said it will be difficult to pass an immigration bill similar to the Senate proposal.
Representative Xavier Becerra, Democrat of California and a former chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he had grave concerns about the Senate bill.
All in all, not a very auspicious Democratic reaction to Kennedy's deal.