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Senate Cuts Part of House Immigration Bill

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060327/D8GK56HO0.html Senate Cuts Part of House Immigration Bill Mar 27, 4:03 PM (ET) By SUZANNE GAMBOA WASHINGTON (AP) - As
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 27, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060327/D8GK56HO0.html

      Senate Cuts Part of House Immigration Bill

      Mar 27, 4:03 PM (ET)

      By SUZANNE GAMBOA

      WASHINGTON (AP) - As immigration rights activists
      rallied outside the Capitol, senators broke Monday
      from the House's get-tough approach by refusing to
      make criminals of people who help illegal immigrants.

      The Senate Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment by
      Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that would protect church
      and charitable groups, as well as individuals, from
      criminal prosecution for providing food, shelter,
      medical care and counseling to undocumented
      immigrants.

      "Charitable organizations, like individuals, should be
      able to provide humanitarian assistance to immigrants
      without fearing prosecution," Durbin said.

      The committee also approved more than doubling the
      current force of 11,300 Border Patrol agents in an
      effort to stem the tide of new undocumented workers
      arriving daily. It voted to add 2,000 agents next year
      and 2,400 more annually through 2011.

      In December the House voted to make offers of
      non-emergency aid a felony. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas,
      proposed Monday requiring humanitarian groups
      providing aid to illegal immigrants to register with
      the Department of Homeland Security but withdrew the
      idea in the face of opposition from the Senate panel.

      The immigration bills have sparked protests around the
      country, and with the committee's action on Monday,
      demonstrators at the front of the Capitol claimed to
      have already had an impact. Among the more than 1,000
      demonstrators were at least 200 clergy members, dozens
      of them wearing handcuffs to protest the House's
      action.

      "This is not about legislation any more," said Jorge
      Medina, an immigrant from Honduras now living in
      Charlotte, N.C. "This is about feelings now. We are
      Americans, too. We are not from Mars and we are not
      from the moon."

      President Bush used a naturalization ceremony Monday
      for swearing in 30 new citizens from 20 countries to
      warn critics of his proposal to let some illegal
      immigrants remain in the United State against stoking
      anti-immigrant feelings.

      "The immigration debate should be conducted in a civil
      and dignified way," the president said as lawmakers
      began tackling the hot-button election issue of what
      to do with the nation's estimated 11 million illegal
      immigrants.

      More than 500,000 people rallied in Los Angeles on
      Saturday, demanding that Congress abandon the
      House-passed measures that would make being an
      undocumented immigrant a felony and would erect a
      700-mile fence along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico
      border.

      Similar but smaller protests were held in Dallas,
      Phoenix, Milwaukee and Columbus, Ohio, over the
      weekend. On Monday, thousands of demonstrators, many
      waving U.S. and Mexican flags, marched through
      Detroit. And hundreds of students walked out of high
      schools Monday in Dallas and Huntington Park, Calif.

      The committee faces a midnight deadline for completing
      a bill with a version of the "guest worker" program
      that Bush wants for illegal immigrants. The House
      rejected that program and Majority Leader Bill Frist
      has said the Senate will start debating a bill Tuesday
      without it if the committee fails.

      Overhauling the nation's immigration laws "is not
      going to be easy," Bush said at the naturalization
      ceremony at Constitution Hall two blocks from the
      White House.

      "No one should play on people's fears or try to pit
      neighbors against each other," Bush said. "No one
      should pretend that immigrants are threats to
      America's identity because immigrants have shaped
      America's identity.

      "No one should claim that immigrants are a burden on
      our economy because the work and enterprise of
      immigrants helps sustain our economy," the president
      said. "We should not give in to pessimism. If we work
      together I am confident we can meet our duty to fix
      our immigration system and deliver a bill that
      protects our people, upholds our laws and makes our
      people proud."

      Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, calls for
      tougher border security have dominated debate over the
      knotty problem of controlling immigration.

      But a tough immigration-enforcement bill passed by the
      House last year has galvanized forces that want worker
      programs for illegal immigrants already in the
      country.

      "We will not accept enforcement-only approaches," said
      Cecilia Munoz, vice president of the National Council
      of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group.

      Senators up for re-election this year are being forced
      by the debate to juggle the demand from voters for
      tighter borders to keep out terrorists and businesses
      who look to the tide of immigrants to help fill jobs.

      Employers and immigration advocates prefer a bill
      drafted by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward M.
      Kennedy, D-Mass., that would allow illegal immigrants
      to become eligible for permanent residency after
      working for six years. Both McCain and Frist are
      likely candidates for the Republican presidential
      nomination next year.

      Another approach offered by Cornyn and Sen. Jon Kyl,
      R-Ariz., would let illegal immigrants get temporary
      work permits for up to five years. They would have to
      leave the United States but could then apply for legal
      re-entry.
    • Ram Lau
      Senator Lincoln gave a brilliant speech on the Senate floor on 3/30. Here is the full transcript: Mr. President, I rise today to add my voice to this debate on
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 1, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Senator Lincoln gave a brilliant speech on the Senate floor on 3/30.
        Here is the full transcript:

        Mr. President, I rise today to add my voice to this debate on
        reforming our immigration system. While many of us here may have our
        differences, I think one thing on which we all agree is that the
        current system is broken and something must be done now if we are ever
        to get this situation under control.

        There does seem to be a consensus in this body, and I think it is
        appropriate, that we absolutely must strengthen our borders. I
        personally believe that securing our borders has to be a priority in
        what we achieve in this legislation. Our borders have been porous for
        years and we must take adequate steps to secure them, and we must do
        it now.

        This is a homeland security issue, first and foremost, but it is
        also a good government issue. American taxpayers continue to see their
        tax dollars spent on securing our borders without the results they
        deserve. While traffic from areas where we have placed more
        enforcement has decreased, border crossings in total have risen by 43
        percent, despite tripling patrol personnel. The cost of an arrest has
        increased from 1992, when it was $300, to the cost of $1,700 in 2002.

        Americans cannot afford this type of performance from a security
        standpoint or an economic standpoint. At a time when America is facing
        its most serious threat and dealing with record deficits, having our
        borders remaining unsecured as we spend more on them is simply
        unacceptable. It is unacceptable to the American people in terms of
        security and economics.

        But securing our borders without dealing with the over 12 million
        undocumented immigrants who are in this country is not the solution
        either. One without the other is not going to achieve the results we
        want in the cost-effective way we must do it.

        Many in this body are probably somewhat unaware that my State of
        Arkansas had the largest per-capita increase of its Hispanic
        population of any State in the Nation during the last census. Arkansas
        has become what is referred to as an emerging Hispanic community, with
        largely first-generation immigrants. These immigrants have a dramatic
        impact on our communities and on our economies. They are hard working,
        they are active in the religious community, they are law abiding, and
        they are putting their children through school. Whether they came here
        legally or illegally, they are establishing roots and we cannot
        dispute that. The majority of immigrants in my State came to the
        United States because they wanted good work and a better way of life
        for their families. A good number of them are educated and wanted to
        take advantage of the opportunities afforded to them in the U.S.
        economy. This is why a plan based on ripping these roots out of the
        ground and deporting over 10 million people is simply not realistic.

        First, we couldn't afford it. Second, I am not sure we could
        implement it. And then think of what it would do to our economy.

        While these people may have come here illegally, many of them have
        been here long enough now to have become part of the fabric of our
        communities. Removing them will break up families and it will hurt our
        local economies.

        I am not saying we should grant amnesty, and neither does the
        amendment Senator Specter has offered. It is critical to know that
        amnesty is not the answer. No reform should grant amnesty. Total and
        immediate forgiveness for past crimes--these are not things we believe
        in this country. The rule of law is critical. To do so would severely
        undermine the rule of law in this country.

        As I stated, it is impractical to believe, though, that we can
        simply round up and deport all illegals in this country. It is also
        unlikely we can coax illegals out of the shadows by offering them a
        limited period to remain in this country before we eventually deport
        them. They will continue to hide and move around in the same networks
        that have protected them thus far.

        I believe the solution is earned legalization, and that is why I
        have supported the McCain-Kennedy bill and the similar bill that was
        passed out of the committee, offered as a substitute by Senator Specter.

        Some have characterized these bills as amnesty. Amnesty is a
        general pardon for a previous crime. By contrast, this reform plan
        includes serious consequences for those who remain in our country
        illegally.

        Under the committee bill, an illegal immigrant faces an immediate
        $1,000 fine, a security background check, application for a work visa,
        and an 11-year path to citizenship. Most immigrants who apply for
        citizenship now achieve that in 5 to 6 years. After staying
        continuously employed for 6 years, paying all back taxes, learning
        English--as my colleague from Oklahoma has expressed as being a very
        important part of this--learning U.S. history and government, and
        paying another $1,000 fine in application costs, the worker could then
        apply for a green card and legalization.

        That is not going to the front of the line, but it is going to the
        end of the line after those who have already chosen a legal path to
        begin with. Their green card application, as I said, will go to the
        back of the line behind all the legal applicants who are waiting for
        those green cards. Finally, this path is only available to the illegal
        immigrants who were here before January of 2004.

        This does not sound like amnesty to me. It sounds like a challenge
        but a challenge that presents excellent rewards instead of the dire
        consequenceswe would suffer if we took an irrational reaction to this
        enormous problem that is growing in our Nation.

        The other path for an illegal immigrant would be to continue trying
        to hide. But now, under increased enforcement measures and stiffer
        penalties as we have seen that we would put into place under this
        bill, I believe the majority of the people who have come here
        illegally but came to make a better life for themselves, will emerge
        from those shadows to become legal residents of their communities, to
        engage in what we came here to seek, because we have provided for them
        a pathway to become legal.

        It comes at cost. It comes at great cost to them, both financially
        as well as the time they have to spend to engage themselves in
        becoming legal residents of this great Nation. But it is worth it to
        them and it is worth it to us to set this issue straight, to begin to
        reform a problem that is growing desperately out of control.

        Many of them already pay local taxes in the communities where they
        are. Some of them are paying into Medicare and Social Security with no
        promise of receiving any of the benefits. But think how we could
        strengthen those programs if we put them on a pathway to legalization.
        We know who these 12 million undocumented workers are and we put them
        into the system to strengthen Social Security and Medicare by assuring
        that their withholdings are coming out and going into the system as well.

        I am reminded of an incident in my home State of Arkansas.
        Recently, we saw law enforcement officials who were acting on a tip
        from an informant. These were national law enforcement officials. They
        did not contact the local law enforcement in our small communities
        there in Arkansas, but the folks from Washington swooped into a
        poultry processing plant and they arrested approximately 120 workers
        who were carrying forged or illegal identification documents.

        What occurred there does not make what those illegal immigrants did
        right. It doesn't make it right at all. They were there illegally.
        They were there with forged documents. Actually, it was a local U.S.
        citizen in the community who had helped produce those documents for
        them. But I want you for a moment to think about what occurred after
        these Washington law enforcement officials swooped into a community
        without notifying the local law enforcement and seized 120 workers.

        Most of these workers were parents. They are parents who were not
        allowed to call home to tell their children what was happening. We had
        children who were left behind in the care of the Catholic Church, or
        friends, or anybody who would take care of these children. Some of
        them were as young as 12 months old--kids abandoned because the
        parents were not allowed to call.

        It was a sudden and brutal act and it separated families and left a
        community divided. Not because people wanted to defend the illegals
        who were there, the undocumented, or those who were there with false
        documents, but because of the way it was handled. That is what we are
        here to debate. Not that we differ about that. I don't think anybody
        in this body wants amnesty. They don't. What they want to do is to
        make sure we handle this issue in the right way.

        I would imagine most of my colleagues in this body learned, as I
        did, at an early age from their parents that there is a right way and
        a wrong way to do everything. We have an opportunity to come together,
        to figure out the right way that is consistent with the American
        values we all hold dear, to figure out a solution to this enormous
        problem that continues to grow. It reflects on who we are as Americans
        with respect for the rule of law, making sure that people know they
        have to follow the law and they have to act within the confines of the
        law, but with the kind of encouragement that every human being should
        be allowed to reach their potential.

        You can pay those fines, you can take the initiative and

        learn English and learn about this great country. You can get back
        at the end of the line after having tried to break into the line in
        front and still have the ability to reach that potential if you are
        willing to pay for your mistakes. That is what this bill is about.

        When I think of the calls for the arrest and the deportation of 10
        to 20 million undocumented immigrants in this country, I think of that
        frightful night in Arkansas where children and parents were severed in
        an unruly way. Their families were destroyed. Children were left by
        themselves without anyone to care for them because law enforcement had
        not thought that out.

        I think of that frightful night in Arkansas and then I see it
        multiplied thousands of times across this country. That is not the
        right way to handle this issue. As Americans, we can be smart. Yes, we
        can be diligent and we can even be tough. But we can be tough in a way
        that reflects the values of who we are and how this Nation was
        created--by giving people opportunity and requiring responsibility.

        We stand at a crossroads in this country. Over the last decade and
        a half, the Latino population has expanded in every area of our
        country, many of them coming here legally but some illegally. We are
        faced with a decision that gets to the heart of what values we hold
        dear as Americans. We have always said: If you work hard and you play
        by the rules, there is a place for you in America to raise your
        children and contribute to our great melting pot, to strengthen our
        communities, to be a part of this great land.

        We are faced now with what to do with some who have broken the
        rules to come here but have since worked hard to provide for their
        families. I hope the Senate will give this very difficult question the
        reasoned and thorough debate it deserves, but that we will not forget
        the balance, the very intricate balance of American values that brings
        out the rule of law and the importance of the rule of law but also the
        desire and the compassion we feel. That is what the American spirit is
        all about.

        I believe the Senate will agree to welcome those who came here
        illegally if they are willing to show another American value, and that
        is sacrifice. We all know a great deal about sacrifice as we see
        incredible Americans, men and women in the Armed Forces and all over
        this country, whether it is our emergency responders or others. If we
        see those who have come here illegally showing that willingness to
        exhibit that American value of sacrifice, then I think we as a body
        will be able to produce something to welcome them into our great
        society and our great Nation.

        I urge my colleagues, as we continue in this debate, that we keep
        our heads calm and our minds open.

        I yield the floor.

        I suggest the absence of a quorum.


        --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > http://apnews.myway.com/article/20060327/D8GK56HO0.html
        >
        > Senate Cuts Part of House Immigration Bill
        >
        > Mar 27, 4:03 PM (ET)
        >
        > By SUZANNE GAMBOA
        >
        > WASHINGTON (AP) - As immigration rights activists
        > rallied outside the Capitol, senators broke Monday
        > from the House's get-tough approach by refusing to
        > make criminals of people who help illegal immigrants.
        >
        > The Senate Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment by
        > Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that would protect church
        > and charitable groups, as well as individuals, from
        > criminal prosecution for providing food, shelter,
        > medical care and counseling to undocumented
        > immigrants.
        >
        > "Charitable organizations, like individuals, should be
        > able to provide humanitarian assistance to immigrants
        > without fearing prosecution," Durbin said.
        >
        > The committee also approved more than doubling the
        > current force of 11,300 Border Patrol agents in an
        > effort to stem the tide of new undocumented workers
        > arriving daily. It voted to add 2,000 agents next year
        > and 2,400 more annually through 2011.
        >
        > In December the House voted to make offers of
        > non-emergency aid a felony. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas,
        > proposed Monday requiring humanitarian groups
        > providing aid to illegal immigrants to register with
        > the Department of Homeland Security but withdrew the
        > idea in the face of opposition from the Senate panel.
        >
        > The immigration bills have sparked protests around the
        > country, and with the committee's action on Monday,
        > demonstrators at the front of the Capitol claimed to
        > have already had an impact. Among the more than 1,000
        > demonstrators were at least 200 clergy members, dozens
        > of them wearing handcuffs to protest the House's
        > action.
        >
        > "This is not about legislation any more," said Jorge
        > Medina, an immigrant from Honduras now living in
        > Charlotte, N.C. "This is about feelings now. We are
        > Americans, too. We are not from Mars and we are not
        > from the moon."
        >
        > President Bush used a naturalization ceremony Monday
        > for swearing in 30 new citizens from 20 countries to
        > warn critics of his proposal to let some illegal
        > immigrants remain in the United State against stoking
        > anti-immigrant feelings.
        >
        > "The immigration debate should be conducted in a civil
        > and dignified way," the president said as lawmakers
        > began tackling the hot-button election issue of what
        > to do with the nation's estimated 11 million illegal
        > immigrants.
        >
        > More than 500,000 people rallied in Los Angeles on
        > Saturday, demanding that Congress abandon the
        > House-passed measures that would make being an
        > undocumented immigrant a felony and would erect a
        > 700-mile fence along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico
        > border.
        >
        > Similar but smaller protests were held in Dallas,
        > Phoenix, Milwaukee and Columbus, Ohio, over the
        > weekend. On Monday, thousands of demonstrators, many
        > waving U.S. and Mexican flags, marched through
        > Detroit. And hundreds of students walked out of high
        > schools Monday in Dallas and Huntington Park, Calif.
        >
        > The committee faces a midnight deadline for completing
        > a bill with a version of the "guest worker" program
        > that Bush wants for illegal immigrants. The House
        > rejected that program and Majority Leader Bill Frist
        > has said the Senate will start debating a bill Tuesday
        > without it if the committee fails.
        >
        > Overhauling the nation's immigration laws "is not
        > going to be easy," Bush said at the naturalization
        > ceremony at Constitution Hall two blocks from the
        > White House.
        >
        > "No one should play on people's fears or try to pit
        > neighbors against each other," Bush said. "No one
        > should pretend that immigrants are threats to
        > America's identity because immigrants have shaped
        > America's identity.
        >
        > "No one should claim that immigrants are a burden on
        > our economy because the work and enterprise of
        > immigrants helps sustain our economy," the president
        > said. "We should not give in to pessimism. If we work
        > together I am confident we can meet our duty to fix
        > our immigration system and deliver a bill that
        > protects our people, upholds our laws and makes our
        > people proud."
        >
        > Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, calls for
        > tougher border security have dominated debate over the
        > knotty problem of controlling immigration.
        >
        > But a tough immigration-enforcement bill passed by the
        > House last year has galvanized forces that want worker
        > programs for illegal immigrants already in the
        > country.
        >
        > "We will not accept enforcement-only approaches," said
        > Cecilia Munoz, vice president of the National Council
        > of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group.
        >
        > Senators up for re-election this year are being forced
        > by the debate to juggle the demand from voters for
        > tighter borders to keep out terrorists and businesses
        > who look to the tide of immigrants to help fill jobs.
        >
        > Employers and immigration advocates prefer a bill
        > drafted by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward M.
        > Kennedy, D-Mass., that would allow illegal immigrants
        > to become eligible for permanent residency after
        > working for six years. Both McCain and Frist are
        > likely candidates for the Republican presidential
        > nomination next year.
        >
        > Another approach offered by Cornyn and Sen. Jon Kyl,
        > R-Ariz., would let illegal immigrants get temporary
        > work permits for up to five years. They would have to
        > leave the United States but could then apply for legal
        > re-entry.
        >
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