'Amnesty' jams compromise bill
By Jerry Seper and Stephen Dinan
Source THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he is willing to accept a temporary-worker program for future workers, but citizenship for illegal aliens -- which he said definitely constitutes "amnesty" -- is out.
"A guest-worker program I think can be on the table if it does not contain an amnesty, but only if the employer sanctions and the increased border patrols are effective," the Wisconsin Republican said.
It's not just Mr. Sensenbrenner. House Republicans are lining up behind him in their opposition to the Senate bill, including Rep. Charlie Norwood, Georgia Republican, who said it "constitutes treachery against U.S. sovereignty" and called it "dead on arrival in the House."
"The U.S. Senate voted to sell out the American people to vested and foreign interests with passage of a bill granting not only amnesty, but preferential treatment of illegal aliens over American citizens," Mr. Norwood said.
Meanwhile, two members of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of moderate to liberal Republicans, said they will try to broker a deal on their own.
Mr. McCain, the Arizona Republican who was a driving force behind the Senate's bill, and Rep. Michael N. Castle, Delaware Republican, announced they already have begun meeting to try to reach an agreement.
The Senate on Thursday passed its broad immigration bill, which offers a chance for citizenship to millions of illegal aliens, increases legal immigration, creates a separate program for future foreign workers, builds 370 miles of fencing on the border, and approves hiring thousands of new border and interior law-enforcement personnel.
The House in December passed an immigration bill that focuses on enforcement including 698 miles of fencing, thousands of new enforcement officers, a system to check for employers to verify that both current and future employees are legally able to work, and a provision extending criminal penalties to cover all illegal aliens and raising the crime to a felony.
The Senate bill passed on the strength of Democratic votes, 62-36. Four Democrats and 32 Republicans -- a majority of the Senate Republican Conference -- voted against it. The House bill passed 239-182, with 17 Republicans and 164 Democrats opposing it.
From the White House standpoint, press secretary Tony Snow said the administration has done what it could to take the border-security objection off the table, and have now "gotten past that important benchmark."
"Border enforcement starts the first full week of June. It's already happened," Mr. Snow said, referring to the deployment date for the first of up to 6,000 National Guard troops President Bush wants sent to the border. "What the president has proposed is far more aggressive and robust than anything that had been considered by either house." ...............