Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Immigrant Bill Fallout May Hurt House GOP

In the wake of this week's massive demonstrations, many House Republicans are worried that a tough anti-illegal-immigration bill they thought would please their political base has earned them little benefit while becoming a lightning rod for the fast-growing national movement for immigrant rights.

House Republicans rushed through legislation just before Christmas that would build hundreds of miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, require that businesses verify the legality of all employees' status through a national database, fortify border patrols, and declare illegal immigrants and those who help them to be felons. After more lenient legislation failed in the Senate last week, the House-passed version burst into the public consciousness this week, as hundreds of thousands of protesters across the country turned out to denounce the bill.

Yesterday, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) issued a joint statement seeking to deflect blame for the harshest provisions of the House bill toward the Democrats, who they said showed a lack of compassion. "It remains our intent to produce a strong border security bill that will not make unlawful presence in the United States a felony," Hastert and Frist said.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) fired back that "there's no running away from the fact that the Republican House passed a bill and Senator Frist offered one that criminalizes immigrants."

FULL STORY

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