Minutemen Believe Lawmakers Will Face Immigration Backlash

By: Jim Gilchrist

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration and key congressional Democrats and Republicans stepped up their efforts to sell a broad immigration compromise Thursday as lawmakers braced for a public backlash at home.

“Many Americans are rightly skeptical about immigration reform,” President Bush said in a Rose Garden news conference. “This bill provides the best chance to reform our immigration system and help us make certain we know who’s in our country and where they are.”

With Congress set to break for a weeklong Memorial Day recess, supporters and opponents of the compromise were scrambling to shape public perceptions of the immigration overhaul.

It grants quick legal status to an estimated 12 million unlawful immigrants while strengthening border security and creating a temporary worker program for new arrivals.

Proponents were working to refute criticism that the measure is too lenient by playing up border security and worker verification measures that would force employers to check the identity of everyone they hire.

They highlighted the hurdles illegal immigrants would have to scale – including fines, background checks and holding down a job – to gain lawful status through a new “Z visa.”

“This bill does not grant amnesty. Amnesty is forgiveness without a penalty,” Bush said.

Critics argue the measure could invite new waves of illegal immigrants by rewarding those already here.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said she would push when Congress returns from its break to make illegal immigrants leave the country before they could obtain a Z visa. The bill only requires heads of households seeking a green card for permanent legal residency to return home.

The Senate was expected to vote Thursday on a proposal by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., to allow federal, state or local authorities to question people about their immigration status if the officials had probable cause to believe the individuals were in the U.S. illegally.

Senators were also set to weigh in again on the measure’s temporary worker program. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. was seeking to sunset the program after five years – a move that drew intense opposition from some of the bill’s authors.

“This is one of those killer amendments,” said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

The Congressional Budget Office told senators Wednesday that the measure would reduce the deficit by $37 billion over 10 years, mostly due to the increase in payroll taxes expected from the anticipated jump in legal immigrant workers.

The budget office estimated that Congress would have to allocate about $40 billion over a decade to implement the bill, with the largest expenditures coming from new border security and worksite enforcement measures.

Meanwhile, interest groups which have mixed views of the measure were mobilizing to activate a public clamor across the nation for action on immigration.

The Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform unveiled Internet and radio ads quoting Kennedy, an architect of the bill, as saying it was “not perfect.”

“That’s why it’s urgent to elevate our voice to achieve the improvements our community needs,” said the spot, which is to run in heavily Hispanic media markets.

Source: The Associated Press

About Jim Gilchrist:

Jim Gilchrist founded the multi-ethnic Minuteman Project on Oct. 1, 2004, after years of frustrated efforts trying to get a neglectful U.S. government to simply enforce existing immigration laws.

Jim holds a B.A. in newspaper journalism, a B.S. in business administration, and an M.B.A. in taxation. He is a former newspaper reporter and a retired California CPA (Certified Public Accountant).

Jim is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and recipient of the Purple Heart award for wounds sustained while serving with an infantry unit in Vietnam, 1968 – 1969.

Mr. Gilchrist is a passionate defender of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and an avid supporter of law enforcement organizations. He has appeared on over 1000 radio and TV news and commentary shows in the past twelve months, and he believes he is only one of millions of 21st century minutemen / women / children who want the U.S. to remain governed by the “rule of law” and who want proactive enforcement of our national security protections and our immigration legal code.

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