Saturday, May 27, 2006

Will Immigration Be a Partisan Campaign Issue?

Votes on the immigration bills in Congress reveal a partisan divide on what to do. The House bill, essentially an enforcement-only bill, is a Republican measure and passed with only 17 Republicans voting against it.

The Senate bill is mainly a Democrat proposal, despite the support of the President. It is a comprehensive bill, providing amnesty-like treatment for illegal immigrants already here, a path to citizenship for those illegal immigrants, and other provisions granting favorable benefits to illegal immigrants. Democrats voted for it 38-4 (39-4 if you count the nominal independent who votes with Democrats for organization purposes), and Republicans voted against it 32-22.

The two bills now go to a conference committee, which will determine the final compromise version to be voted on. The House conferees should insist on strict border control and tough enforcement for future violations. If that requires a compromise on other provisions, a compromise is in order, but the Senate bill goes mush too far in giving benefits to illegal immigrants.

Voters back home are paying attention to this immigration issue. Immigration is one of the issues that separate the parties. Voters need to pay attention to which party is taking care of the security of U.S. citizens and which party is taking care of special interests.

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