• search

US senators near compromise on immigration reform

Written by: Staff
|

WASHINGTON, Mar 17 (Reuters) Under pressure to produce broad immigration reform legislation by the end of the month, a US Senate panel neared agreement on a proposal that would give some of the 12 million illegal aliens living in the country an opportunity to earn citizenship.

Although no vote will be held until after a weeklong congressional recess, the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday appeared ready to back a proposal by panel member Sen.

Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, who has worked on the issue with his Republican colleague John McCain of Arizona.

The panel, which is working on comprehensive immigration and border security legislation, will also consider a related proposal that would allow foreigners to enter the United States as legal guest workers and then have a chance to earn permanent status.

Republicans are divided over immigration policy, and the Judiciary Committee plan is likely to spark a firestorm from conservatives who oppose regularizing the status of illegal immigrants, saying they would be rewarded after breaking U.S.

immigration law.

But backers cite both economic and security reasons. They say that providing a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship will avoid creating a permanent underclass of workers and help bring illegals aliens out of the shadows.

Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who opposes giving permanent status to illegals, said after the meeting that the panel would probably vote for the Kennedy plan.

''The votes are there,'' Grassley said.

NO AMNESTY Kennedy told the committee the proposal was not an amnesty.

People seeking legal status would have to pay a WASHINGTON, Mar 17 (Reuters) Under pressure to produce broad immigration reform legislation by the end of the month, a US Senate panel neared agreement on a proposal that would give some of the 12 million illegal aliens living in the country an opportunity to earn citizenship.

Although no vote will be held until after a weeklong congressional recess, the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday appeared ready to back a proposal by panel member Sen.

Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, who has worked on the issue with his Republican colleague John McCain of Arizona.

The panel, which is working on comprehensive immigration and border security legislation, will also consider a related proposal that would allow foreigners to enter the United States as legal guest workers and then have a chance to earn permanent status.

Republicans are divided over immigration policy, and the Judiciary Committee plan is likely to spark a firestorm from conservatives who oppose regularizing the status of illegal immigrants, saying they would be rewarded after breaking U.S.

immigration law.

But backers cite both economic and security reasons. They say that providing a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship will avoid creating a permanent underclass of workers and help bring illegals aliens out of the shadows.

Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who opposes giving permanent status to illegals, said after the meeting that the panel would probably vote for the Kennedy plan.

''The votes are there,'' Grassley said.

NO AMNESTY Kennedy told the committee the proposal was not an amnesty.

People seeking legal status would have to pay a $2,000 fine, apply for a six-year temporary status, have a job, pay taxes, learn English and show an understanding of US government.

They would not get permanent status faster than the three million foreigners awaiting legal entry, he said.

''There is no moving to the front of the line, there is no free ticket,'' Kennedy said. ''This is not amnesty.'' Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, quipped that the requirements ''probably exclude half of my family.'' The panel also reached tentative agreement on a guest worker program sought by President George W. Bush has said he wants. A compromise struck between Kennedy and Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, would give future temporary workers an opportunity to seek permanent status after four years.

US business groups favor creating a temporary worker program to help fill jobs that Americans either cannot or will not do. Both business and labor groups also favor giving current undocumented workers a way to legalize their status.

Committee members said details would be worked out during the recess.

The panel is working against a deadline set by Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Tennessee Republican, and possible contender in the 2008 presidential race, wants the Senate to take up a bill addressing only enforcement and border security.

He threatened to do that on March 27 if the Judiciary Committee failed to reach agreement on comprehensive legislation.

Whether Congress will finalize immigration legislation before the November congressional elections is unclear. Both Democrats and Republicans are likely to use the issue to gain vantage.

The House of Representatives has voted for tough border security and enforcement legislation with no guest worker program. The two sides would have to work out their differences before a bill could be sent to Bush for his signature.

REUTERS SK RAI0458 ,000 fine, apply for a six-year temporary status, have a job, pay taxes, learn English and show an understanding of US government.

They would not get permanent status faster than the three million foreigners awaiting legal entry, he said.

''There is no moving to the front of the line, there is no free ticket,'' Kennedy said. ''This is not amnesty.'' Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, quipped that the requirements ''probably exclude half of my family.'' The panel also reached tentative agreement on a guest worker program sought by President George W. Bush has said he wants. A compromise struck between Kennedy and Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, would give future temporary workers an opportunity to seek permanent status after four years.

US business groups favor creating a temporary worker program to help fill jobs that Americans either cannot or will not do. Both business and labor groups also favor giving current undocumented workers a way to legalize their status.

Committee members said details would be worked out during the recess.

The panel is working against a deadline set by Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Tennessee Republican, and possible contender in the 2008 presidential race, wants the Senate to take up a bill addressing only enforcement and border security.

He threatened to do that on March 27 if the Judiciary Committee failed to reach agreement on comprehensive legislation.

Whether Congress will finalize immigration legislation before the November congressional elections is unclear. Both Democrats and Republicans are likely to use the issue to gain vantage.

The House of Representatives has voted for tough border security and enforcement legislation with no guest worker program. The two sides would have to work out their differences before a bill could be sent to Bush for his signature.

REUTERS SK RAI0458

For Daily Alerts
Get Instant News Updates
Enable
x
Notification Settings X
Time Settings
Done
Clear Notification X
Do you want to clear all the notifications from your inbox?
Settings X
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. This includes cookies from third party social media websites and ad networks. Such third party cookies may track your use on Oneindia sites for better rendering. Our partners use cookies to ensure we show you advertising that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on Oneindia website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time. Learn more