- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2007

Members of the Congressional Immigration Caucus say a compromise reached between members of the Senate and the Bush administration over immigration reform violates the rule of law, giving amnesty to millions of illegal aliens in the United States.

“The compromise … will reward 12 million illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship — what part of ‘illegal’ does the Senate not understand?” asked Rep. Brian P. Bilbray, California Republican and caucus chairman. “Any plan that rewards illegal behavior is amnesty.

“You would think the Senate would have learned their lesson after the 1986 amnesty debacle, but it looks like their idea of a compromise is to repeat the failed policies of the past,” he said.

Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican and ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said the proposed compromise would “do lasting damage to the country, American workers and the rule of law.” He said amnesty puts lawbreakers ahead of those legally seeking citizenship, puts foreign workers ahead of U.S. workers and encourages more illegal immigration.

“The American people aren’t demanding amnesty. They are demanding border security,” Mr. Smith said. “We need border security, but we don’t need amnesty to secure the border. Just because someone is in the country illegally doesn’t mean we have to give them citizenship, the greatest honor our country can bestow.”

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, described illegal immigration as a homeland security issue — citing the recent arrests in a plot to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J.

“Granting amnesty would reward lawbreakers and legalize scores of criminals and terror suspects that are currently here illegally, making it that much easier for them to operate within our society undetected,” he said. “In reality, the Senate’s amnesty proposal will only serve to weaken the security of our homeland, and I strongly oppose the measure.

“A country which cannot control its borders loses control of its destiny,” he said.

This week, the Senate will debate an immigration deal reached Thursday that offers a multistep path to citizenship to millions of illegal aliens in the United States in exchange for better border security and a new way of choosing how future immigrants are selected.

The plan allows the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the United States to come forward and receive probationary status. Meanwhile, the government would continue to build fences and vehicle barriers on the Mexico border, hire more immigration officers and institute better checks on employers.

The plan also would create a temporary-worker system and an immigration point system based on education, work skills and English proficiency, alongside a redesigned family-reunification system.

Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican and ranking member of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, citizenship, refugees, border security and international law, disputed claims in the compromise deal that it renewed respect for the rule of law.

“Let me respond to that absurd statement by stating clearly: You cannot simultaneously tear down and rebuild one of our constitutional principles,” he said. “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law. The price for amnesty is the sacrifice of the rule of law. Each one of these senators should wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ for amnesty.”

Other caucus members objecting to the compromise were:

• Rep. Phil Gingrey, Georgia Republican, who described the plan as “truly outrageous” — saying he feared it “may simply be amnesty by another name.” He said citizenship is a “precious commodity, and we need to ensure that our immigration laws benefit the American public and our economy, not bankrupt our government services in the name of amnesty.”

• Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, Florida Republican, who said she knew Democratic Sens. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Harry Reid of Nevada were “tone deaf when they proposed opening our borders and granting illegal immigrants amnesty,” but did not know “Senate Republicans would follow their misguided lead.”

• Rep. Sam Johnson, Texas Republican, who said granting instant citizenship to countless illegal aliens “is blanket amnesty, plain and simple, and I vehemently oppose it.” He said the compromise rewards lawbreakers and punishes those who have waited their turn to become U.S. citizens.

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