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House Passes Enforcement-Only Bill That Would Criminalize 11 Million Immigrant

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  • GOP Emphasizes Border Security By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
    Thu Jan 19, 6:25 PM ET

    WASHINGTON - Republicans on Thursday strengthened an immigration resolution that is likely to be considered by the national party, calling for better border security before establishing a guest worker program.

    The Republican National Committee is holding its winter meeting in Washington. The resolution from Texas committeeman Bill Crocker was offered as an alternative to a measure by Arizona committeeman Randy Pullen, who opposes guest worker plans like the one being promoted by President Bush.

    Republicans are divided on the president's guest worker proposal. An RNC vote opposing a guest worker program could put the national party at odds with the president.

    Crocker's proposal was amended Thursday by the party's resolutions committee to further emphasize border security. It proposes establishing a guest worker program for a fixed period without offering amnesty to people already in the United States in violation of immigration laws.

    The measure was unanimously passed by the resolutions committee and would give RNC members a strong alternative to the Pullen measure.

    Pullen's resolution called for enforcing immigration laws and withholding federal funds from states and localities that don't report illegal aliens to federal authorities. "Any guest worker plan that allows illegal aliens to remain and work in our country will only result in more illegal immigration and increased crime in our country," that resolution said.

    Neither Crocker nor RNC officials knew if Pullen still plans to offer his original proposal to the full RNC. Efforts to reach Pullen on Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful.

    The president has stepped up pressure on Congress to embrace his plan for a guest worker program while talking tough about illegal immigration and a need for secure U.S. borders.

    The president's goal is to stop more immigrants from crossing the border while increasing the number of temporary work visas for those who will take jobs that Americans are unwilling to fill.

    Democratic plans to push more of its 2008 caucuses and primaries into January have some Republicans talking about the impact on the GOP, which is locked into its current primary calendar.

    Democrats are going to allow one or two caucuses between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, as well as a primary or two after New Hampshire but before the end of the month.

    Republicans have a 2008 schedule that allows states to hold contests starting in February and threatens to punish states that hold contests earlier by not seating up to half their delegates to the convention, said rules chairman Davis Norcross of New Jersey.

    "We have always considered the fact that the rules stay the same between one convention and the next to be the fairest way for candidates to know the rules they will have to play by," Norcross said. "We think we've got it the right way."

    Some in the RNC's rules committee want to consider whether the GOP should allow more flexibility in its primary calendar rules in 2012. The RNC sets its rules at its national convention every four years and currently does not allow shifts in those rules between conventions.

    RNC member Morton Blackwell said efforts to introduce more flexibility in the rules have come up before and been defeated. "They're still trying to beat some life into that dead horse, he said. Norcross said he agrees the approach is unlikely to change.

    On the Net:

    Republican National Committee:


    • "Before the RNC members returned to their home states, they approved an immigration resolution supported by the White House. A competing measure backed by hard-line conservatives opposed to Bush's guest worker program was withdrawn under pressure from White House allies."

      I believe that Americans are smart people and they will support a guest worker program in the near future.



        Border Plan Seen as U.S. Conceit
        Across Latin America, people are dismayed by a bill calling for a 700-mile wall along the frontier with Mexico to stem illegal immigration.

        By Héctor Tobar, Times Staff Writer
        February 26 2006

        MEXICO CITY "” "The wall" does not yet exist, and it may never be built, but already the proposed 700 miles of fencing and electric sensors loom like a new Berlin Wall in the Latin American imagination.

        The plan for a barrier along the border with Mexico was approved by the U.S. House in December and is scheduled to be debated by the Senate next month.

        El muro, as it is called in Spanish, has been in the news for weeks not only in countries such as Mexico and El Salvador that are increasingly dependent on the money migrants send back home, but also those ****her away, such as Argentina and Chile. Across the region, el muro is seen as an ominous new symbol of the United States' unchecked power.

        "The U.S. government has fostered an atmosphere of collective paranoia, given a green light to its spies ... and institutionalized torture," Salvadoran novelist Horacio Castellanos Moya said. "The only thing missing was a wall."

        The brainchild of Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), the measure calls for two "layers of reinforced fencing," new lighting, cameras and underground sensors similar to those in place near San Ysidro, Calif. One new stretch would seal off nearly the entire 350-mile length of the Arizona-Mexico border.

        "Our nation has lost control of its borders," Sensenbrenner said on the House floor when introducing the bill in December. An estimated 1 million people cross illegally into the United States each year.

        The bill proposes elevating illegal crossing from a misdemeanor to a felony, and includes new provisions to curb hiring of undocumented workers.

        "Large majorities of Americans support efforts to restore the security of our nation's borders," Sensenbrenner said. The House later approved the bill by a vote of 239-182.

        South of the proposed barrier, news of the vote has been greeted with expressions of confusion, sadness and official concern. The foreign ministers of 11 Latin American countries who met Feb. 13 in Colombia agreed to formulate a plan to lobby the U.S. Senate to kill the proposal.

        Guatemalan Vice President Eduardo Stein, whose center-right government is close to the Bush administration, made an unusually strident statement about the bill last month.

        "It seems to us a real affront that a government that calls itself a friend and regional partner only wants our money and our products, but treats our people as if they were a plague," Stein said.

        A minority of commentators have suggested that Latin American governments share at least some of the blame for the disorder on the U.S. frontier.

        "The diatribes [against the wall] are a poor substitute for adequate policies," Sergio Aguayo Quezada wrote in the Mexico City newspaper Reforma. "The long era of open borders is over, and the escape valve is slowly closing."

        Others point out that the walls already in place for more than a decade in Tijuana, El Paso and other border areas have driven illegal crossers into the Sonoran Desert, where hundreds have died.

        Fearing that more fences will result in more deaths, Bishop Renato Ascencio Leon led a Mass in Ciudad Juarez against the proposal. "We pray to the Lord that this wall not be raised," he said.

        The president of Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights, Jose Luis Soberanes, called the proposal an act of "idiocy."

        The Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre sounded out the country's artists and athletes, who unanimously condemned the fence.

        "It's one more slap in the face from the gringos, an example of their cynicism," actress Patricia Orantes told the newspaper. "The walls are falling now. Berlin's fell, and [the Americans] still haven't learned yet."

        Bristling over the repeated comparisons with the wall built by East German Communist leaders, U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza responded last month with an angry letter.

        "Comparisons of proposals to alter our border policies to the Berlin Wall are not only disingenuous and intellectually dishonest, they are personally offensive to me," Garza wrote in a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy here. "The Berlin Wall was built to keep its own people trapped inside, and was created by an oppressive authoritarian government."

        The United States, Garza wrote, has an inherent right to defend its security.

        U.S. relations with Latin America have been strained in recent years, especially since the invasion of Iraq. Latin American epresentatives on the U.N. Security Council in 2003, Chile and Mexico, opposed the war.

        In Mexico, where perceived ill treatment by the United States is more than ever a national obsession, the rhetorical power of el muro has been hard to resist.

        Leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador refers to el muro in his speeches, saying, "If there is no economic growth in Mexico, people will continue to cross, no matter if they build walls." Felipe Calderon, presidential candidate of the center-right National Action Party, called the proposal "historically unacceptable."

        In a televised interview last month, President Vicente Fox called the barrier "the wall of ignominy" and promised to fight it.

        A few days later, during a visit to the city of Merida on the Yucatan peninsula, a group of union activists threw the metaphor back at the president. "Why won't you talk to us?" the protesters shouted at Fox from behind a crowd barrier. "Here is the wall! The wall is here!"

        In the Buenos Aires newspaper Clarin, Marcelo Moreno compared el muro with Argentina's exclusive "country club" gated neighborhoods. If the rich of Latin America are building barriers to keep out the poor, he argued, why should anyone be surprised that the U.S. is building walls too?

        "When the Berlin Wall fell, many believed that with globalization on the march, the last great barrier had fallen," Moreno wrote. "Now the opposite is happening. The walls are multiplying."

        Times researchers Alex Renderos in San Salvador, Andrés D'Alessandro in Buenos Aires and Carlos Martínez in Mexico City contributed to this report.


        • The US-Mexicanwall is O.K.

          The only what scares me is the enforcement bill without guest worker program.

          Stop talking and adding hundreds of new proposals and start changing the broken laws.


          • SunDevilUSA,

            Have you ever served?


            • Publicus,

              You shot down SunDevilUSA like she is a lame duck! I would suggest that you don't waste time on people like SunDevilUSA, just help all you can.



                It has been a long time since this country heard a call to organized lawbreaking on this big a scale. Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation's largest, urged parishioners on Ash Wednesday to devote the 40 days of Lent to fasting, prayer and reflection on the need for humane reform of immigration laws. If current efforts in Congress make it a felony to shield or offer support to illegal immigrants, Cardinal Mahony said, he will instruct his priests "” and faithful lay Catholics "” to defy the law.

                The cardinal's focus of concern is H.R. 4437, a bill sponsored by James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin and Peter King of New York. This grab bag legislation, which was recently passed by the House, would expand the definition of "alien smuggling" in a way that could theoretically include working in a soup kitchen, driving a friend to a bus stop or caring for a neighbor's baby. Similar language appears in legislation being considered by the Senate this week.

                The enormous influx of illegal immigrants and the lack of a coherent federal policy to handle it have prompted a jumble of responses by state and local governments, stirred the passions of the nativist fringe, and reinforced anxieties since 9/11. Cardinal Mahony's defiance adds a moral dimension to what has largely been a debate about politics and economics. "As his disciples, we are called to attend to the last, littlest, lowest and least in society and in the church," he said.

                The cardinal is right to argue that the government has no place criminalizing the charitable impulses of private institutions like his, whose mission is to help people with no questions asked. The Los Angeles Archdiocese, like other religious organizations across the country, runs a vast network of social service programs offering food and emergency shelter, child care, aid to immigrants and refugees, counseling services, and computer and job training. Through Catholic Charities and local parishes, the church is frequently the help of last resort for illegal immigrants in need. It should not be made an arm of the immigration police as well.

                Cardinal Mahony's declaration of solidarity with illegal immigrants, for whom Lent is every day, is a startling call to civil disobedience, as courageous as it is timely. We hope it forestalls the day when works of mercy become a federal crime.


                • Senators, sharply divided, tackle immigration law Need to secure borders clashes with desire for guest worker program

                  By Nicole Gaouette

                  Originally published March 3, 2006

                  WASHINGTON // The opening bell sounded yesterday on the Senate's effort to overhaul immigration laws, but the panel that will take the lead on the legislation appeared severely divided.

                  Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee staked out sharply different positions on whether to create a guest worker program, how to enforce border security and how to handle the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country.

                  "I have seen virtually no agreement on anything," said Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican who leads the committee, during a meeting intended to begin negotiating the legislation.

                  He said the committee faced a "gigantic task" in fashioning legislation by a deadline set by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican.

                  Committee members, four of whom are first-generation Americans, seemed united only in their assessment that the bill Specter provided as a starting point is "an unmitigated disaster," as Specter characterized their criticism.

                  Frist has told the committee that if it cannot deliver a bill by March 27, he will present a measure of his own for a vote. Like the immigration legislation passed by the House in December, Frist's bill concentrates on enforcement measures.

                  To meet the deadline, the lawmakers will have to work through Specter's 305-page bill and more than 30 of their own amendments, ranging from proposals that would deny U.S. citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants to amendments that would forbid the Department of Homeland Security from indefinitely detaining illegal immigrants.

                  Their challenge will be reconciling the views of senators who feel that no reform can take place until there is greater control of the border with those of senators who feel that border security will be possible only with the creation of a guest worker program, which would create a legal pathway for foreign workers to take jobs in the United States.

                  Specter's bill, which has heavy enforcement provisions, has been controversial in both camps. Specter would create a program that allows workers to come to the United States for up to six years, but would not lead to citizenship.

                  And while Specter would allow undocumented workers already in the country to stay under an indefinite work permit, they also could never become citizens.

                  Republican Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Cornyn of Texas also offered a guest worker plan that would not grant citizenship.

                  A competing bill by Sens. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, would create a guest worker program that could allow newly arriving workers to gain citizenship. It would also set a pathway for the 11 million illegal immigrants now in the country to obtain citizenship as long as they met certain requirements and paid fines and back taxes.

                  "The choice is to legalize them or leave them in the shadows," Kennedy said yesterday of undocumented immigrants. He argued that without the incentive of citizenship, illegal immigrants would not come forward. "Only legalizing them will work," he said.

                  Sen. Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, dismissed that argument. A guest worker program would simply draw more undocumented immigrants and burden already struggling government agencies, he said, advocating more resources for the border. "If we go forward with a guest worker program, we'll have a much worse problem," he said.

                  Sen. Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat, proposed a modified version of a guest worker program for the agriculture industry that would provide 300,000 jobs a year for three years. Feinstein said she did not want to expand her program beyond agriculture because "you displace American workers that way."

                  But others made it clear that they saw no value in even limited programs. Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who sponsored the amendment to deny citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants, said the senators "shouldn't do anything until we secure the border."


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