- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

SAN DIEGO (AP) — As the Senate prepares to tackle the most sweeping immigration reforms in years, the chamber’s top Democrat vowed yesterday to do everything in his power, including filibuster, to thwart Majority Leader Bill Frist’s plan to introduce his own bill directly onto the floor.

Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said he would “use every procedural means at my disposal” to prevent Mr. Frist from bypassing the Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Frist, Tennessee Republican, has made clear that the Senate will take up his proposal next week if the 18-member committee fails to complete a broader bill.

“If Leader Frist brings a bill to the floor that does not have the approval of the Judiciary Committee, it will not get out of the Senate,” Mr. Reid told reporters at the San Ysidro, Calif., border crossing, a few steps from Tijuana, Mexico.

Bob Stevenson, a spokesman for Mr. Frist, did not immediately respond to a call last night.

Mr. Reid said the overhaul must include heightened border enforcement, a “guest worker” program and a “path to citizenship” for the estimated 12 million illegal aliens in the United States. He called legislation by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, and John McCain, Arizona Republican, a “good place to start.”

Mr. Frist introduced a bill last week that sidesteps the question of temporary work permits. It would tighten borders, punish employers who hire illegal aliens and provide more visas.

President Bush, in a State of the Union address two years ago, urged Congress to create a worker program under which participants could gain legal status for a specific time and then be required to return home. Mr. Bush said at a press conference Tuesday that a guest-worker program should not provide “automatic citizenship” to illegal aliens already here.

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