Charles Hurt, Washington Times, May 12, 2006
Senate leaders reached an agreement yesterday on immigration reform legislation that would strengthen border security but also would allow millions of illegal aliens who have been in the U.S. for two years or longer to apply for citizenship.
Derided by conservatives as “amnesty,” the proposal could be amended but senators on both sides of the aisle say they doubt it will be dramatically altered.
“Senate Republicans are united in their commitment to an open and full debate on multiple amendments,” said a statement from seven Republicans who represent the full spectrum of positions on immigration reform.
“We are willing to put differences aside so we can get on with the important work to be done securing our borders and grappling with the 12 million illegal immigrants currently living in our country,” said the group that included Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.
“We are also in agreement that efforts to curtail the debate prematurely will only derail this process. We call on Senate Democrats to allow an open debate and votes on this complex and challenging issue,” the statement read.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, with whom Mr. Frist has been negotiating for weeks, said he “welcomed” the return of the thorny bill to the floor.
“America’s immigration system is broken, and our national security depends on Republicans and Democrats finding common ground to fix it,” he said yesterday. “The assurances I have received from Senator Frist make me hopeful we can finally move forward on real comprehensive reform.”