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Tuesday, 29 May 2007 00:22

Immigation Debate

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slide33According to the LA Times leading Republican senators on both sides of the immigration debate said Sunday that they would work together to modify the bipartisan legislation being considered in the Senate. Initially, some conservative Republicans condemned what has been referred to as the "grand bargain" on immigration that emerged this month. The controversial piece of legislation would increase border security and employer based workplace enforcement of immigration laws. These concepts are long favored by Republicans, and in exchange the Democrats could then deliver on their promise to offer legal status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants and create guest worker programs.

slide34 The compromise, backed by President Bush, won support from conservative Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) but was criticized by another GOP conservative from a border state, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. Last week, Bush met with Hutchison and several other Republican opponents at the White House. On Sunday, Hutchison said she considered the legislation "better than the status quo." After the Senate returns early next week from its Memorial Day recess, she said, she plans to propose changes that would allow her to vote for the bill. Even if the legislation is amended to Hutchison's satisfaction, Republicans will probably face tough opposition from conservatives in the House.

slide35 Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) denounced the plan Sunday, calling it "an absolute disaster from a national security standpoint" because it would give legal status to illegal immigrants and would scale back a proposed 700-mile security fence along the southern border, a project he championed. "If we sign a second amnesty into place, you will have a wave of people, a stampede of people, from every country in the world coming into the United States illegally thinking they're going to catch the third amnesty," Hunter said on CNN's "Late Edition." Hunter is running for president. Democrats may also be unwilling to accept a compromise tilted further to the right. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Sunday that the legislation would undermine immigrant families with its green-card point system — modeled on proposals from conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation — that would favor immigrants' skills and education over family ties in doling out the cards. "In the long term, it tears families apart," Menendez told ABC's "This Week."

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