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Less strict immigration bill emerging

Medill News Service

WASHINGTON – In an attempt to garner support from divided Senate Republicans, Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter began his revision of an immigration and border security bill introduced last May. Democrat Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado is a co-sponsor of the bill, proposed by Arizona Republican John McCain, R-Ariz., and Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy. The bill aims to secure borders while creating a three-year, temporary visa for alien workers who perform jobs not covered in existing visa categories.Colorado’s Republican senator, Wayne Allard, is backing a different bill that creates a temporary worker program, but does not address illegal immigrants already in the country.Unlike the McCain-Kennedy bill, under Specter’s proposal, there would be no path to a green card and U.S. citizenship under the temporary worker program. The new idea would also make it more difficult for long-time legal residents to become citizens and would also deny battered immigrants and refugees protection if they use fake documents to flee an oppressor.In a statement Thursday, Kennedy said an immigration reform bill that “brings everyone out of the shadows and eliminates illegal inflows” is needed.”The chairman’s bill before us contains some elements of a smart approach to immigration control,” Kennedy said. “But rather than targeting U.S. enforcement primarily at the criminal networks which make up the infrastructure of undocumented immigration, the bill is indiscriminate in its criminalization of immigrants themselves.”The bill Allard prefers would mandate illegal immigrants to leave the country within five years. A new visa category would provide for a temporary worker program, but the workers would be required to return to their countries of origin for one year every two years. In addition, they would be limited to working in the U.S. for a total of six years, according to the bill, which was sponsored Republican senators John Cornyn of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona. The House passed an immigration reform and border security bill Dec. 16 which does not include a temporary worker program, and includes a 700 mile-long fence along the U.S. -Mexican border. That bill garnered support from 49 Democrats and all of Colorado’s representatives except for Democrat, Diana DeGette.Colorado Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo said in a statement he hopes the Senate follows the “standard for immigration reform” set by the House.In Wednesday’s conference call, Salazar initiated an exchange with Tancredo when he said he hoped “cooler heads can prevail” over the “emotionalism” of the House when differences between the House and Senate bills are ironed out.”I’m hopeful that’s where the president can himself weigh in and try to make sure the House crazies don’t derail a workable immigration reform package,” Salazar said. “The emotionalism around the immigration issue needs to be tempered with a dose of reality. We haven’t had that in a long time.”When asked if he was referring to Tancredo, who was called a “House crazy” while in the Colorado legislature, Salazar said he doesn’t think “putting labels on anybody really helps.”Tancredo countered with a statement that said he “used to think Ken Salazar was John Kerry in a cowboy hat – he looked conservative but voted like a liberal. I realize now that I was confusing him with the wrong Massachusetts senator.”Vail, Colorado


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