For the second time in as many days, The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction provided unbalanced coverage of U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard's amendment to immigration reform legislation before Congress. A June 6 article reported that Allard's amendment to a key provision of the bill failed, but it did not include any comments from the amendment's opponents; a June 5 article made a similar omission.
A June 6 article by Gary Harmon of The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction about U.S. Sen Wayne Allard's (R-CO) failed attempt to gut the so-called "Z visa" provision from proposed immigration reform legislation included no comments or views from lawmakers who support the provision, repeating the newspaper's unbalanced reporting of June 5. In contrast, The Pueblo Chieftain reported comments from proponents of the provision, including U.S. Democratic Sens. Ken Salazar (CO) and Ted Kennedy (MA), who called Allard's amendment "a veiled attempt to keep undocumented workers from ever becoming permanent residents."
As Colorado Media Matters noted, a June 5 Daily Sentinel article, also by Harmon, reported Allard's criticism of Z visas but failed to offer opposing comments from Salazar or any other supporter of the Z visa provision. Under the current proposed legislation, Senate Bill 1348, Z visas would allow illegal immigrants to work in the United States in advance of beginning naturalization procedures.
The Daily Sentinel on June 6 reported, "An amendment to the immigration bill in the Senate failed Tuesday, leaving intact provisions giving immigrants already in the country a preference for citizenship." The article continued:
With the failure of his amendment, Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said, "The bill has a provision that allows illegal immigrants an advantage when it comes to citizenship."
The amendment received 31 votes, Allard said.
Allard's amendment would have eliminated points for the "Z visa holders," a new designation created under the bill for illegal immigrants residing in the United States.
Under the current bill, sponsored by Sens. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and John Kyl, R-Ariz., Z visas would be given to immigrants who could demonstrate they were in the country before this year.
Allard said he hadn't taken a position on the overall measure, which he described as inclined to award citizenship on merit rather than an immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year.
In contrast to the Daily Sentinel's unbalanced reporting, the Chieftain noted on June 6 that the full Senate "voted down the Allard amendment 62 to 31." The Chieftain article by Peter Roper further reported that "Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and a backer of the comprehensive bill, voted against the amendment" and that "[n]o one else spoke on behalf of Allard's amendment." In addition, the Chieftain quoted other supporters of the provision Allard was attempting to eliminate, including Kennedy, "a sponsor of the comprehensive bill," who "said Allard's effort would defeat the legislation's central purpose of giving millions of undocumented immigrants a chance to legalize their status and begin an eight-year process of obtaining citizenship that includes paying fines and taxes":
"This is a veiled attempt to keep undocumented workers from ever becoming permanent residents," Kennedy said of Allard's amendment. He went on to say that without giving undocumented, low-skill workers a likelihood of legalizing their status, those workers would not come forward and apply for the proposed new visas.
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., gave Allard the best explanation for the broad vote against his amendment. Acknowledging that the proposed bill was weighted to give illegal immigrants a route to legal residency, Specter said the comprehensive bill was a fragile compromise worked out between the Bush administration, Democrats, Republicans, labor and business groups.
"The answer is (the point preference) is part of an interwoven accommodation among many partners on this bill," Specter said in explaining his vote against the amendment.