Beth Fouhy, AP, March 22, 2006
NEW YORK — Invoking Biblical themes, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton joined immigration advocates Wednesday to vow and block legislation seeking to criminalize undocumented immigrants.
Clinton, a potential 2008 presidential candidate and relative latecomer to the immigration debate, made her remarks as the Senate prepares to take up the matter next week.
Clinton renewed her pledge to oppose a bill passed in December by the House that would make unlawful presence in the United States — currently a civil offense — a felony. The Senate is set to consider a version of that legislation, as well as several other bills seeking to address the seemingly intractable issue of immigration reform.
Surrounded by a multicultural coalition of New York immigration advocates, Clinton blasted the House bill as “mean-spirited” and said it flew in the face of Republicans’ stated support for faith and values.
“It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures,” Clinton said, “because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself.”
SAN DIEGO — As the Senate prepares to tackle the most sweeping immigration reforms in years, a top Democrat vowed Wednesday to do everything in his power, including filibuster, to thwart Majority Leader Bill Frist’s proposed overhaul.
Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would “use every procedural means at my disposal” to prevent Frist from bypassing the Judiciary Committee. Frist, R-Tenn., has made clear the Senate will take up his proposal next week if the 18-member committee fails to complete a broader bill.
“If Leader Frist brings a bill to the floor that does not have the approval of the Judiciary Committee, it will not get out of the Senate,” Reid told reporters at the San Ysidro border crossing, a few steps from Tijuana, Mexico.
Bob Stevenson, a spokesman for Frist, did not immediately respond to a call Wednesday evening.
Reid said the overhaul must include heightened border enforcement, a “guest worker” program and a “path to citizenship” for the estimated 11 million people in the United States illegally. He called legislation by Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., a “good place to start.”