[Vision2020] Immigration Breakthrough Could Pave Way for Citizenship

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Fri May 18 07:05:32 PDT 2007

>From CNN.com -


Immigration breakthrough could pave way for citizenship

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living
in the United States could be put on the path to citizenship under a new
immigration bill agreed upon Thursday by a bipartisan group of senators.

"The agreement we just reached is the best possible chance we will have to
secure our borders, bring millions of people out of the shadows and into the
sunshine of America," Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts said. 

President Bush expressed gratitude to the senators for their work. (Watch
the balancing act politicians face from population changes and a backlash )

"I really am anxious to sign a comprehensive immigration bill as soon as I
possibly can," he told reporters outside the White House. "Today, we took a
good step toward this direction."

The bill is going to the Senate next week and if it passes, will then
proceed to the House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told the White House that she's not going to
bring the issue to the floor unless the president can deliver at least 70

But Republican Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the bill is not a done deal.

He said he has "concerns with the principles outlined in today's

"I believe today's announcement is somewhat premature because specific
legislative text has yet to be drafted on a number of key details," Cornyn
said in a statement. "Until I have the opportunity to review this text, I
will withhold from making more detailed comments." 

The 380-page bill, which comes after nearly three months of negotiations,
would give immediate work authorization to undocumented workers who arrived
in the United States before January 1, 2007.

Heads of household would have to return to their home country within eight
years, and they would be guaranteed the right to return.

Applicants would also have to pay a $5,000 penalty.

Additionally, the number of Border Patrol agents would be doubled, border
fencing would be strengthened and employers who hire undocumented workers
would face fines. 

The process of enforcing those provisions would take about 18 months,
according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

After the provisions are in place, a guest-worker program would be
initiated, under which 400,000 temporary workers per year would be granted a
"Y" visa. 

The two-year visas would require they return home for a year, then allow
them to re-enter for an additional two-years. The process could be repeated
twice more.

Each year, they would be able to bring their families on 30-day visitor
visas, and each year, they would earn points toward a merit-based green

Specter: This is not amnesty

"It is not amnesty," said Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
"This will restore the rule of law."

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona called the bill "a first step, but an
important first step, to moving forward with comprehensive overall
immigration reform."

"I'm sure that there are certain provisions that each of us would not agree
with, but this is what the legislative process is all about," said
Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. (Watch senators explain how the
bill works )

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, acknowledged that not
everyone will be pleased with the bill's treatment of the immigration issue.

"To the American people, I would say, 'Don't let the perfect be the enemy of
the good,' " she said.

She said the bill would ensure that border security is strong and that
farmers -- who depend largely on an undocumented work force -- will be able
to find workers.

"From my perspective, it's not perfect, but it represents the best
opportunity that we have, in a bipartisan way, to do something about this
problem," said Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said the bill started out
being about how to deal with illegal immigration "and wound up being about
what it means to be an American ... I think we've got a deal that reflects
who we are as Americans."

He added, "From the Ph.D. to the landscaper, there's a chance for you to
participate in the American dream on our terms in a way that makes this
country better."

Graham predicted the bill would find "overwhelming" support among lawmakers.

Debate on the bill is slated to get under way in the Senate on Monday, and
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said she wants passage of a bill before

Bush: Immigration a tough issue for a lot of Americans

Bush described immigration as "a tough issue for a lot of Americans," but
added, "The agreement reached today is one that will help enforce our
borders but, equally importantly, it will treat people with respect. 

"This is a bill where people who live here in our country will be treated
without amnesty but without animosity." (Watch Bush praise bipartisanship of

That view was challenged by Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray of California,
chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus.

"The 'compromise' announced today by Sen. Kennedy will reward 12 million
illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship -- what part of illegal does
the Senate not understand?" he said in a written statement.

"Any plan that rewards illegal behavior is amnesty."

The American Immigration Lawyers Association decried the proposal as
"large-scale social experimentation," singling out the "guest worker"
program as one that would preclude a path to permanent residence for new
temporary workers.

"A practical solution for the undocumented population is an enormously
important step in the right direction," the association said in a written
statement. "But the cost of fixing our current problems cannot be the
creation of bigger problems in the future."

But Chertoff told CNN that the bill would help him better focus his

"Right now, I've got my Border Patrol agents and my immigration agents
chasing maids and landscapers. I want them to focus on drug dealers and
terrorists. It seems to me, if I can get the maids and landscapers into a
regulated system and focus my law enforcement on the terrorists and the drug
dealers, that's how I get a safe border."


Seeya rouind town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"Uh, how about a 1-strike law. Death doesn't seem too extreme for a Level-3
sex offender."

- Dale "Comb-Over" Courtney (August 3, 2005)

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