- The Washington Times - Friday, March 22, 2002

Senate Democrats yesterday postponed action on an amnesty measure for illegal immigrants, denying President Bush a chance to announce the accomplishment during his trip to Mexico this week.
The border security bill was first blocked Monday by Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, because of the amnesty provision added by the House last week.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said yesterday he will not bring up the issue until after the Easter recess, which ends April 8.
"We're going to take it up when we get back. Border security is very important," Mr. Daschle said.
There are two versions of the bill the Senate can choose for final passage one contains the amnesty provision, the other does not.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and a sponsor of the measure, said she is willing to let the bill go to the floor without the provision in order to quickly pass the border security bill.
Mr. Daschle would not commit to which version he will bring up for a vote.
"I don't think we've concluded yet just what the package will entail. I think that there are those who would favor taking [the provision] out, and then there are some who favor keeping it in," Mr. Daschle said.
"We're going to try to resolve just which approach is more conducive to getting the job done. My preference would be to keep [the provision] in, but we'll have to see when we get back just how much support there is for that proposition," he said.
The immigrants who would benefit are here illegally because they have overstayed their visas. But because they entered the United States legally, Mr. Bush prefers to describe them as lawful inhabitants.
Senate offices are being inundated with calls and letters from angry constituents urging a vote against the measure, which would benefit hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens, aides said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican and a former federal prosecutor, said he supports the border security bill but is opposed to the immigration provision.
"We're getting a lot of calls; people say this is amnesty and of course they are correct. You can spin it anyway you want to spin it but what we are saying is that people who are in violation of the law [would] get the benefit from that violation," Mr. Sessions said.
"They say just one more amnesty, but there will always be another amnesty and another amnesty. The most important thing that you can do is have people know the law means what it says. And when we undermine the law then we have bad consequences," Mr. Sessions said.
The House passed the measure just hours after it was learned that the Immigration and Naturalization Service issued student visas for two of the terrorist hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks.
The amnesty measure would allow immigrants to pay $1,000 fees to stay in the country while their residency applications are being processed.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said he was "surprised and disappointed" the vote on the overall bill was delayed.
"I thought we had made a commitment to the president we would get that done, so I was disappointed that it was put off," he said.
Mr. Lott said he is also willing to have separate votes on amnesty and border security.
"I would be glad to do any part of it, I don't see why they have to be tied together, maybe they do in some people's mind but I would be glad to try and move them separately," Mr. Lott said.


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