Rift on illegal immigration

first_img But the bill does not include language or provisions giving the country’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants the chance to attain legal residency. And by late Thursday, GOP leaders still had not decided whether to allow votes on some of the more controversial amendments including denying U.S. citizenship to American-born children of illegal immigrants. “This caucus is very divided on how to solve the illegal immigration problem,” said Rep. George Radanovich, R-Fresno, emerging from a two-hour emergency GOP meeting. Radanovich, whose Central Valley district is largely agricultural, favors a guest-worker program and said he wouldn’t vote for a bill that doesn’t include such a provision. Other Republicans adamantly opposed to guest-worker plans – such as Reps. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., Gary Miller, R-Brea, and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach – also said they could oppose the bill if House leaders add nonbinding language that urges Congress to someday pass such a temporary-worker program. “Every newspaper in Mexico will be running it Monday morning,” Miller said. “I have a very difficult time with that language.” The fate of that seemingly innocuous language remained unclear late Thursday. House leaders also indicated they would change the bill to make being in the United States without proper documents a misdemeanor instead of a felony. The vast majority of Republicans – including Dreier and the authors of the bill, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., and Peter King, R-N.Y. – expressed support for a temporary-worker plan and described the enforcement bill as a first step. “As we look to move this legislation to the president’s desk, it should include comprehensive reform,” Dreier said. “This bill is focused on the supply side. It is also equally important for us to focus on the demand side.” But Rep. Howard Berman, D-Van Nuys, called the bill a “sham.” “This is a con,” he said. “This is a bill that the speaker of the House, the chairman of the Rules Committee and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee know cannot solve the problem of illegal immigration. “To tell the American people they’re doing something by passing a bill they know cannot solve the problem of illegal immigration is an insult to the American people.” Lisa Friedman, (202) 662-8731 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – Bitterly divided Republicans opened debate Thursday on a sweeping illegal-immigration enforcement bill that exposed the party’s deep fractures on the issue and left uncertain the fate of President Bush’s guest-worker proposal. The House easily passed a series of noncontroversial amendments to the bill, including condemning rape by smugglers and mandating all border patrol officers’ uniforms are made in America. Lawmakers also passed an amendment by David Dreier, R-Glendora, and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, mandating construction of a fence along 698 miles of the Southwest border with the highest levels of illegal-immigrant crossings, deaths and drug smuggling. A final vote on the legislation – which also would turn illegal immigrants into a new class of “aggravated criminals” and demand every employer verify their workers’ eligibility – is expected today. last_img