- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 3, 2007

The president of the Arizona chapter of the National Border Patrol Council says the 2,600 rank-and-file U.S. Border Patrol agents he represents were “sold out” by Sen. Jon Kyl when he agreed to support a pending immigration-reform bill criticized as calling for amnesty.

“We are extremely surprised and disappointed at your decision to support the latest Senate bill regarding illegal immigration,” Edward Tuffly II, president of NBPC Local 2544, said in a letter to the Arizona Republican.

“No matter how it is presented to the American people and no matter how our elected representatives try to spin it to avoid the word ‘amnesty,’ the sad fact remains that this bill will provide amnesty to the millions of illegal aliens who have succeeded in avoiding arrest,” he said.

Mr. Tuffly said the chapter, which represents the state’s non-supervisory field agents, endorsed Mr. Kyl’s 2006 campaign “with the clear understanding” that he would not support amnesty for illegal aliens. “We feel we have been sold out,” he said.

The local’s concerns have been echoed by Arizona Republican Party officials, who said the bipartisan immigration bill being pushed by the White House and Mr. Kyl is fracturing rather than “saving” the Republican Party nationally.

Arizona Republican Party officials have received “hundreds and hundreds of calls, e-mails and letters from Republicans angry about the bill,” state party Chairman Randy Pullen said. “They were saying, ‘I am going to register independent and not give you any more money.’ ”

Mr. Pullen said that by pushing a bill giving illegal aliens a way to gain legal status and eventually citizenship, the White House and Mr. Kyl are giving Democrats “exactly what they need: cover.”

“Democrats aren’t going to be out there alone, giving amnesty to 20 million illegal aliens,” he said.

Conservatives also have warned that Republican lawmakers who support the bill can expect retribution at the ballot box.

“This immigration issue should be of serious concern to all members of Congress with an interest in being re-elected,” said Curly Haugland, a North Dakota rancher and Republican National Committee member. “So far, the only member of Congress that has expressed an opinion on the matter that I agree with is that of House Minority Leader John Boehner, who called the bill ‘a piece of [expletive].’ ”

Critics have charged that Mr. Kyl, who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, ceded too much in the negotiations. Mr. Kyl has said he is committed to the bipartisan deal, fearing only that Democrats will pull the bill too far to the left for him to support it.

“I have already taken the political hit,” he said. “I have already made my decision to support this legislation, and I will support it to the end if it is not substantially modified. My commitment is firm, and I don’t want the situation to occur where I have to pull my support.”

Mr. Tuffly called the new bill a repeat of a 1986 amnesty law.

“As we all learned from the 1986 amnesty debacle, the simple fact of the matter is that amnesty does not work,” he said. “It simply rewards lawlessness, which naturally encourages more lawlessness.”

“We legalized approximately 3 million illegal aliens pursuant to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, and now, 20 years later, we’re looking at legalizing 12 to 20 million more,” said Mr. Tuffly, a 21-year Border Patrol veteran. “I want to assure you that amnesty is a tremendous morale breaker for front-line Border Patrol agents who are trying to secure this nation’s borders against all odds and at an ever-increasing risk of personal harm.”

He called on Mr. Kyl to “re-evaluate” his position, saying the new bill is “long on amnesty, short on enforcement.”

William King Jr., a retired Border Patrol agent and former sector chief who served as the Western regional director for the 1986 amnesty program, agreed, saying the 1986 bill never delivered on promises to impose stiff employer sanctions for hiring illegals or to increase border security.

“They’re using the same language, the same logic, and I assure you will reach the same conclusion: failure,” he said.

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