- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 24, 2002

Sen. Jeff Sessions said that he opposes President Bush's plan to grant amnesty to undocumented aliens living in this country who apply for legal status, and that he believes many Americans share his concerns.
Interviewed yesterday on CNN's "Saturday Edition with Jonathan Karl," the Alabama Republican and deputy minority whip was asked why the Senate alllowed the president to leave for Latin America empty-handed, without the so-called "limited" amnesty deal he sought.
"There's a real concern in America about our lack of control of the border. The border is not under control. The INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] is completely incapable, at this point, of enforcing our very generous immigration laws," said Mr. Sessions, who is a member of both the Armed Services and Judiciary committees.
As for his own views on amnesty, Mr. Sessions said: "I don't support that. It says to us that if we get here illegally … and stay here and stay here, sooner or later, we'll have another amnesty. This is the second or third amnesty we've had."
In his weekly radio address broadcast yesterday from Monterrey, Mexico, Mr. Bush said an agreement signed at the United Nations conference in that city is meant to create a "common border" with Mexico and Canada to keep North America safe from terrorists without disrupting legitimate travel and trade.
Mr. Bush said the pact would "make our shared borders more open and more secure" from the threats of terrorists, drug smugglers and other outlaws through strategies such as exchanging more customs information and establishing a system to catch criminals at the border.
U.S. officials see the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico as a weak link in homeland security because of the flood of illegal drugs and immigrants . However, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Texas Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who also appeared yesterday on "Saturday Edition," said: "A lot of people forget that the documented terrorists that have come into this country have actually come in, not through the southern border, but from Canada."
House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, who appeared yesterday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields," shared Mr. Sessions' concerns about the problems of border security. Mr. Armey has already made it known that he supports the president's proposed amnesty policy. He says the bill would mean that spouses and parents applying for residency would not have to return home and be separated from their families while waiting for the INS to process their applications.
Mr. Armey's comments yesterday, however, gave no indication that the Bush amnesty measure would benefit hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.
"People who do comply with our laws and are here legally and are trying to maintain their legal resident status and are failed by a dysfunctional agency that could not get the work done should not be separated from their family and punished," he said.
Mr. Armey hailed Mr. Bush for sponsoring the legislation, which is part of the administration's campaign to court the growing bloc of Hispanic voters in the United States.
As for border security, Mr. Armey said it's true that the U.S. borders are porous. "That's why President Bush is saying we need to make border security a No. 1 priority. We can't continue to have one senator, Sen. [Robert C.] Byrd, stop us from securing our borders," he said.
Mr. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, announced last Monday he would delay passage of border-security legislation because it contains the amnesty provision.
"It is lunacy sheer lunacy that the president would request, and the House would pass, such an amnesty at this time. The point seems obvious to the American people, if not to the administration," Mr. Byrd said on the Senate floor.


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