The top sponsor of the House of Representative’s immigration bill on Friday fiercely rejected a the proposal to give millions of illegal immigrants a “get out of jail free card” and a direct path to US citizenship. Many Washington insiders believe the Senate bill will receive a cold reception from the GOP-led House.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who heads the Judiciary Committee, called the bill the Senate passed on Thursday an “amnesty” that the House would not accept. Other House Republicans — including Rep. Peter King, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee –say they will not pass any bill that rewards lawbreaking.
“I reject the spin that the senators have been putting on their proposal,” Rep. Sensenbrenner said at a news conference on Friday. “It is amnesty.”
The Senate on Thursday passed an immigration overhaul that some claim is the biggest power-grab in that body’s history. The bill border security and enforcement measures that are less stringent than that which is contained in the House bill, coupled with a guest worker program, social security benefits, wage controls that few American citizens enjoy, and a plan that would give many of the 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the country a chance to become citizens.
President George W. Bush, who strongly supports a guest worker plan, pushed hard for the Senate passage of the measure and is expected to become deeply involved in the House-Senate bargaining for a final bill.
“[President] Bush on Friday got a phone call from his boss, Mexican President Vicente Fox, who is in California on the last day of a US tour, and praised Bush’s efforts to push for legalized status for some immigrants,” says political analyst Mike Baker.
Fox is deeply troubled by the amount of resistance to the Senate giveaway. The Mexican President hopes to continue sending his poor, his mentally ill and his criminals to the United States, thereby relieving the Mexican government of the expenses incurred for providing social services for his people. Instead, the Senate bill will be the largest redistribution of wealth strategy since President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.”
The only difference is, according to observers, the wealth is being redistributed to another country — Mexico — and it’s the American people who will foot the bill while lawmakers in Washington take the credit and garner the votes.
Bush and Fox discussed the effort to secure the border and boost economic prosperity in both countries, said Frederick Jones, spokesman for the White House National Security Council. Of course, President Fox opposes fences or walls. He opposes using the National Guard to assist the Border Patrol agents. He opposes penalties against companies that employ illegal aliens. He opposes restrictions on funneling US dollars into his country. And he refuses to allow his troops — which are already on the border helping drug traffickers and human smugglers — to help in controlling the illegal aliens entering the US.
Critics called the guest worker idea an amnesty that rewards people who broke US laws. But supporters said it was not forgiving anyone because people would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English and meet other requirements to get on the citizenship track. By contrast, the House in December passed a tough border security and enforcement measure that would make being in the United States illegally a felony instead of a misdemeanor..
Sensenbrenner said any bill that emerges out of negotiations between the House and the Senate would have to concentrate on securing the nation’s leaky borders and punishing employers who hire illegal immigrants.
“With the border controls and the enforcement of employer sanctions, the jobs for illegal immigrants will dry up,” Sensenbrenner told Fox News Channel on Friday.
“And if you can’t get a job because employer sanctions are enforced, my belief is is that a lot of the illegal immigrants will simply go back home voluntarily.”
The House bill has sparked protests around the country from Hispanic groups and their supporters. But the tough Sensenbrenner said he would not accept the Senate’s position. In fact, following the rallies and protests by illegal aliens — which were organized by radical groups — more American became concerned over the problem of illegal immigration.
“It seems to me that what we need to do is to figure out a way, short of amnesty, to deal with the labor needs of the American economy,” Sensenbrenner said. “And if the Senate gets off of the dime of pushing for amnesty, even though they call it something different, then I think there’s room for negotiation.”
Bush, mindful of the growing clout of Hispanic voters, has long supported immigration reform and has said he backs a comprehensive approach along the lines of the Senate bill. But the issue deeply divides Republicans and many believe it is an important issue for them in this year’s congressional elections.
Recent polls show growing public dissatisfaction with the Republican majority. Many lawmakers say Bush will have to become deeply involved in the bargaining if a final bill is to be agreed upon before the November elections, when Democrats hope to make big gains. Even African-Americans overwhelmingly oppose amnesty for illegal aliens saying it takes money away from programs designed to help poor American citizens.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said on Friday that lawmakers were staking out their positions ahead of House-Senate negotiations and he thought there was broad support for the president’s stand.
“I get the very clear sense from leadership in both houses that they want to get something done,” Snow said. “This is not an issue to be dragged past election day. They want to get something done.”
Snow is correct, but the bill passed by the Senate is not what most Americans had in mind when they demanded immigration reform.
Some provisions in the Senate bill are viewed as out-and-out unjust. For instance, those illegal aliens who perpetrated identity theft and used the fraudulent ID for paying into the Social Security system, will still be eligible for benefits. Meanwhile, Americans who perpetrated the same crime are doing hard time in our nation’s prisons, according to one dissatisfied congressional staffer.
Conservatives angrily state that they hope the House Republicans “squash” the Senate bill. Better yet, they say, it should be dead-on-arrival.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.us