Senate Votes to Deny Amnesty to Criminal Illegal Aliens

The Senate has agreed to exclude illegal aliens who have been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors (in addition to violating immigration law, presumably) from getting a fast track to citizenship.

The Senate voted Wednesday to exclude illegal immigrants convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors from a chance at remaining in the United States under what critics say is an amnesty program. The unanimous vote on an amendment that before Easter had been considered a “poison pill” provided added momentum for broad immigration bill that would give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants and put many of them on a path toward citizenship.

The amendment by two of the bill’s leading opponents, Republican Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Cornyn of Texas, was softened Tuesday in negotiations with the legislation’s supporters. The sponsors agreed to include exceptions for hardship cases and those who didn’t know a deportation order had been issued for them, winning the additional support. “We want to keep those who could harm us, the criminal element, out,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., one of the authors of the bill. “Those who could benefit us ought to remain.”

That denying citizenship to convicted felons was considered a “poison pill” is rather astounding. Even Teddy Kennedy acknowledges that we don’t need to import any extra criminals.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Christopher says:

    Shouldn’t Teddy Kennedy actually be a convicted felon?

  2. Most odd. There is no argument that I can think of that would state that felons ought to be given a path to citizenship.

  3. legion says:

    Nah, Teddy just doesn’t want the competition…

  4. Mark says:

    Perhaps it was a poison pill if you assume the House bill that made it a felony to be in the country illegally was passed? It’s the only thing I can think of…

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I question why anyone who chooses to break our laws deserves a fast track to anything other than a trip home. No jobs, no services, and no place to stay. What we have is a civil invasion of our country. Justification. It use to be part of Mexico. Wrong. When Mexico was controlled by Spain was the southwest part of Mexico. Not before, or after.

  6. anjin-san says:


    Kennedy killed one woman 36 years ago. Bush has killed thousands in this century. Get a grip.

  7. Christopher says:

    Hay anjin-san jap man: why don’t you go back to where you came from and see how well you enjoy it there if you hate it here so much? why why why don’t you?

  8. anjin-san says:


    I love it here. Just hate some of the morons I run across…