Tuesday, April 04, 2006

OK, how is this not Amnesty?!?

From what I heard on the radio this morning the "plan" breaks down like this. If you're an illegal and have been in the US more than five years, and can prove it, you can stay, get a work visa, and work towards citizenship. If you've been here less than five years you get booted.

So how is this not amnesty and how would this plan prevent more people from storming over the boarder in hope of getting "in line" for the NEXT amnesty?


By SUZANNE GAMBOA / Associated Press

Senate Republicans searching for a compromise on whether more than 11 million illegal immigrants should be allowed to eventually seek citizenship moved toward limiting that opportunity to those who've lived in the country at least five years.

Negotiators who met for about an hour late Monday evening in the office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., seemed to have settled on five years as a demarcation for who could remain and work and eventually earn citizenship.

Details were to be provided to other Senate Republicans at their closed-door Tuesday morning meeting.

"We're looking at the roots concept, and that is if they have been here more than five years," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "If they have been here less then five years and they do not have roots to the same extent and can be treated differently, and that is what we're looking at."

The fate of those with less time in the country was unclear, but Specter suggested they might be asked to go to ports of entry, like the Texas border city of El Paso, and would not have to return to their native countries.

A similar proposal made in Specter's committee received little support.

However, the idea seemed to have some support from Frist, who told CNN over the weekend that 40 percent of illegal immigrants have been in the country less than five years and "need to be dealt with in a different fashion."

The Senate is in its second week of debate and pressure is on to have a bill by the end of the week. Frist scheduled only two weeks of debate on immigration and the Senate has yet to resolve which of the three major immigration proposals will move forward.

A bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee — based on a proposal by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. — would allow illegal immigrants in the United States before Jan. 7, 2004, and who have jobs, to work legally for an additional six years and eventually become citizens.

Both Frist and McCain are considered likely candidates for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

A separate bill filed by Frist does not deal with illegal immigrants, but boosts border enforcement and cracks down on employers who hire illegal workers. The House in December passed a bill that would make being in the country illegally a felony.

Opponents consider the Judiciary Committee bill amnesty. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., would give illegal immigrants up to five years to leave the country, before they can return legally to apply for permanent residence or be guest workers.

Cornyn was not at the meeting at Frist's office, but his spokesman Don Stewart was skeptical of the suggested compromise.

"It's a matter of giving amnesty to 8 million people or giving amnesty to 12 million people. It's still amnesty to millions of people," Stewart said.