Border fence vote is pushed

first_imgSenate Minority Leader Harry Reid and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said they expect many Democrats to support the Secure Fence Act of 2006. “Democrats are solidly behind controlling the border, and we support the border fence,” Feinstein said. “This is all meant to box Democrats in to voting `no’ and we’re not going to fall for it.” Added Reid, D-Nevada: “Democrats are for border security. And when the roll is called you’ll find Democrats on that roll.” Several Republicans said passing the border fence separately will not hurt chances of voting on a broad immigration reform later. “We only have about two weeks left, and I think we ought to get pragmatic about what we can finish,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn. “People like me are committed to comprehensive reform.” Added Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., “I think we’ve seen here that complete reform or comprehensive reform is not moving ahead until we can guarantee the American people that we can secure our borders. The only way to get comprehensive reform is to do this first.” Others, however, lambasted Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for forcing the fence vote. “They’ve got to come to the reality that we have to do more than just border security,” said Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. “We have job shortages showing up across the country at the moment. We are at a near crisis in American agriculture as our fruits and vegetables rot in the field. “Surely the House members aren’t so frightened of the politics of this issue that they don’t understand the reality of the problem,” Craig said. He and Feinstein said they will try to attach a bill originally written by Rep. Howard Berman, D-Van Nuys, that would legalize about 500,000 undocumented farmworkers. As of Tuesday night, however, it appeared unlikely that Frist would accept any amendments. Feinstein said she will vote in favor of the fence even if no guest-worker provisions are included. “We’ve got to get tough on the border,” she said. “There’s no question that the border is a sieve. What I regret is that it’s not going to solve the problem.” In the meantime, House Republicans on Thursday also will consider three additional bills aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants. One particularly controversial measure would allow local police to enforce immigration laws. GOP leaders said they likely will insert those provisions into a Department of Homeland Security spending bill in order to get them passed quickly. Eun Sook Lee, executive director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium in Los Angeles, said she fears that Congress has lost the political will for immigration reform. “We feel like this is the first step in the wrong direction,” she said of the fence bill. “We think that they’re trying to take what seems like the easy way out of a complicated problem that deals with not just security but family and people’s lives. “Regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you really need to start finding your backbone,” Lee said. [email protected] (202) 662-8731160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe Christmas Truce of 1914 proved that peace is possibleIts passage would mark a significant step forward in months of legislative haggling over immigration reform and would open the door for Republicans to push through a flurry of additional get-tough border measures aimed at bolstering their base and turning up the heat on Democrats. “What Republicans appear to be doing is passing all the things for which there is a lot of support among the public and leaving the rest,” said Steven Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors a more restrictive immigration policy. As for the border fence, Camarota said, “In an election year, my guess is that Democrats are not going to fight it very hard. It’s not what they wanted, but they might go along.” As of Tuesday, that appeared to be the case. With a procedural vote set for this afternoon that would signal the start of debate on authorizing the double-layer fence along 2,000 miles of California, Arizona and Texas border land, Democrats appeared reluctant to put up much resistance. WASHINGTON – With the congressional session barreling to a close and politicians eager to hit the campaign trail, Republicans moved with new determination Tuesday to seal off the U.S. border and impose strict new immigration controls. The accelerated pace means the Senate is expected to consider as early as today Republican-sponsored legislation that would stretch 700 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. And while key Democrats said they would try to attach provisions that would legalize undocumented immigrants, they also vowed not to block the bill if Republicans force it to the floor without amendments. If the Senate approves the bill, it would go to President George W. Bush for his signature. last_img

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