Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Immigration Bill Advances in US Senate

Immigration Bill Advances in Senate

NewsMax.com Wires
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to revive a stalled immigration overhaul backed by President George W. Bush that would offer a path to citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants.

The Senate voted 64-35 to resume debate on the bill, which ties tough border security and workplace enforcement measures to a plan to legalize an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants and a create temporary worker program sought by business groups.

The legislation would be a significant victory for President George W. Bush in his second term in office. It faces strong opposition from many of his fellow Republicans, who call it an amnesty for people who broke U.S. laws and argue it would do little to stem the flow of illegal immigration into the United States.

"The momentum against this bill is gathering all across the country and that is certainly taking hold within the Congress," said Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina.

The bill faces more hurdles in the Senate as leaders try to push it toward a final vote before Friday, when lawmakers are scheduled to begin a week-long break for the July 4 holiday.

Republican opponents have said they are determined to kill the bill, which has already become an issue in next year's presidential election campaign. Bush has been working to try to build more support among Republicans.

"We've got a couple of days of hard work ahead of us to get the bill through the first stage of the process," Bush told supporters on Tuesday. "And then, of course, when it's successful in the Senate, we'll be reconvening to figure out how to get the bill out of the House."

The measure also faces opposition from some labor unions, who say its temporary worker program will create an underclass of cheap laborers. Immigrant groups opposed the bill's limits on family migration.

The compromise bill was brokered by a group of Republican and Democratic senators and the White House after months of painstaking negotiations. It combines tough border security and workplace enforcement measures with a plan to legalize an estimated 12 million unlawful immigrants and create a new temporary worker program.

Supporters say that if the legislation stalls again in the Senate, lawmakers are unlikely to attempt to revive it again before next year's presidential election.

In an effort to help quell Republican opposition, Senate leaders have added to the legislation some $4.4 billion to pay for additional border security and enforcement measures.

Senators are expected to consider a number of amendments, including one from Republicans that would tighten security. Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, has offered an amendment that would give more weight to family ties in the new merit-based system proposed for future immigrants.

© Reuters 2007.


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