- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 23, 2002

House Republican leaders are expected to hold a vote on a Senate-passed border-security bill as early as today, which does not include President Bush's proposal to grant amnesty to thousands of illegal immigrants.
The House approved the border-security and amnesty measures last month, despite a strong undercurrent of opposition to the amnesty provision from conservatives. The Senate approved beefing up border security last week in a 97-0 vote but decided to address the amnesty issue later.
Asked if the amnesty issue is dead, a senior House Republican aide said, "I don't want to say that. [The proposal] still enjoys a lot of support among a majority of senators and a lot of support in the House."
Meanwhile, the Republican chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus asked Mr. Bush yesterday to enforce U.S. immigration laws, saying his "open door" policy on immigration is a threat to national security.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, told Mr. Bush in a letter that despite his efforts to protect the country against international terrorists, U.S. borders remain "woefully undefended" and that immigration laws are being ignored by "those seeking to enter the country illegally and those charged with stopping them."
"I do not believe is it possible to simultaneously defend America's border and advocate policies that move the country toward a state of open borders, such as amnesties for illegal immigrants," he said.
Mr. Tancredo said the administration's amnesty proposal sent out "a confusing and ambiguous message" that only encourages illegal immigration. He asked the president to make a "strong public statement of your commitment to enforcing the immigration laws that are already on the books."
The House, under pressure from Mr. Bush to reach out to Hispanics, narrowly approved the amnesty provision March 12. It would grant amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and allow some illegal aliens who have overstayed their entry visas or entered the country illegally to apply for legal status.
The bill was approved 275-137, one vote more than the two-thirds majority needed under the special rules that brought it to the floor. Opponents credited a furious grass-roots campaign by immigration-reform groups for the bill's near defeat.
House Republican leaders coupled the amnesty provision with a bill to beef up border security. But the Senate balked, approving only the border-security bill, which would require information-sharing among the FBI, CIA, Drug Enforcement Administration, State Department and INS.
The bill would also require passenger manifests to be filed from ships and planes before they leave their home ports for the United States, give authorities more time to investigate visitors, and give federal agencies the mandate and tools to monitor visa holders' movements into and out of the country.
It also would authorize the hiring of hundreds of Border Patrol personnel.
The amnesty provisions approved by the House last month would impose a $1,000 fine on people who have overstayed entry visas or, in some cases, entered the country illegally but have a qualifying family relationship or business sponsor.
In exchange, their legal status would be adjusted and they would avoid having to return to their home countries and waiting as long as 10 years before applying for green cards.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, has said the Senate will address the amnesty issue before the end of May.
Last week, during a meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Times, Mr. Tancredo called Mr. Bush the leading obstacle to controlling illegal immigration in this country, adding that his open-door border policy was a threat to national security.
He said Mr. Bush was out of step with the majority of Americans, who want immigration reform and that his "altruistic views" on the subject were an open invitation to terrorist attacks.

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