Have you wondered why thousands of brown people are marching in your town? Kinda think it has something to do with illegal aliens, but not sure what? Fear not, POLJUNK gives you the 15-second Elevator Speech breakdown of the whole thing.
The most important thing to know is that Republicans are killing themselves over it. Bush (with McCain's support) is trying to push through an immigration bill that would introduce a guest worker provision where employers could sponsor in immigrant workers (read: cheap labor). Undocumented workers already here could pay a fine up to $2,000 and then after six years apply for citizenship. This appeals to those old fashioned conservatives who mostly only care about breaks for business.
Social Conservatives in Congress are playing to their xenophobe base and freaking out calling it an amnesty program and that it rewards illegal behavior. Frist and others sponsored a bill that focuses more on punishment, including an automatic felony for being in this country illegally. That would make 12 million people in this country felons overnight and preclude them from ever being citizens. Hence, big fucking marches around the country by the people who keep your lives cozy.
Congress came to a compromise late last week and was ready to send a bill up but the Democratic leadership killed it. There's a lot of question as to the motive for killing it. Dems say they won't let anything go that doesn't stop late amendments to the bill (like, say, unrelated pork barrel spending, or language that undoes any of the compromised provisions), which is a common practice on compromise bills. Republicans accuse them of playing politics because passing immigration reform now basically takes it off the table as a wedge issue for the mid-terms. As long as there's no immigration reform, Dems can continue to harp on it and hopefully rally Latinos to vote out a Republican-led Do Nothing congress in '06.
The whole thing is bringing up important immigration and border issues, not the least of which is what happens when two tenants of conservative ideaology clash.
UPDATE: Good news, the Republican leaders in congress have dropped the asinine provision making undocumented workers felons. MORE