House GOP draws line on immigration - Leaders won't back Senate's citizenship plan

By Rick Klein, Boston Globe, May 27, 2006

House Republican leaders yesterday refused to yield on immigration, insisting that any bill to emerge from upcoming House-Senate negotiations will contain no provisions for undocumented [criminal illegal] immigrants to become citizens.

House leaders' refusal to budge could make President Bush's goal of passing comprehensive immigration reform impossible to achieve this year. Senate leaders, backed by Bush, favor a plan to allow some undocumented immigrants to apply for guest worker visas, but they contend that denying such workers an eventual path to citizenship could create a permanent underclass.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the top House negotiator on the immigration issue, said yesterday that the bills passed by the House and Senate are moons apart." He said a compromise bill will be possible only if senators drop their requirement that undocumented immigrants [criminal illegal aliens] be offered a path to citizenship, which he and other House opponents call "amnesty."

"If the Senate gets off of the dime of pushing for amnesty -- even though they call it something different -- then I think there's room for negotiation," said Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican. "I would like to see a bill passed and signed into law. However, I'm a realist."...

The Senate bill also includes a new "guest worker" program for those who are living in other countries.

Sponsors of the Senate bill say a final measure must include a citizenship provision, a position that also has the support of the White House....

Key Republicans, including Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, have joined Democrats in making clear that taking out a path to citizenship would be a deal-breaker....

But House leaders appear adamant against anything they perceive as forgiveness for those who entered the country illegally.

"I am totally opposed to any legislation [that allows undocumented [criminal illegal] immigrants to become citizens], and I think the clear majority of the Republican caucus agrees with that," said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, a New York Republican. "People would rather see no bill than to see 11 million illegals legalized."...

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