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"Clinton vows to block bill criminalizing illegal immigrants
By BETH FOUHY
AP Political Writer
March 22, 2006, 2:51 PM EST
NEW YORK -- Invoking Biblical themes, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton joined immigration advocates Wednesday to vow and block legislation seeking to criminalize undocumented immigrants.
Clinton, a potential 2008 presidential candidate and relative latecomer to the immigration debate, made her remarks as the Senate prepares to take up the matter next week.
Clinton renewed her pledge to oppose a bill passed in December by the House that would make unlawful presence in the United States _ currently a civil offense _ a felony. The Senate is set to consider a version of that legislation, as well as several other bills seeking to address the seemingly intractable issue of immigration reform.
Surrounded by a multicultural coalition of New York immigration advocates, Clinton blasted the House bill as "mean-spirited" and said it flew in the face of Republicans' stated support for faith and values.
"It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures," Clinton said, "because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself."
Clinton did not specifically endorse any competing legislation, including a bill co-authored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and another by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), saying she hoped the Senate Judiciary Committee would produce a compromise incorporating the best elements of all the bills and would remove the harsh penalties contained in the House measure.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has said the Senate will take up his proposal to tighten borders and punish employers who hire illegal immigrants if the Judiciary Committee doesn't complete a broader bill by next week."............