Skip to comments.Senate OKs Border Fence, Mulls Citizenship
Posted on 05/17/2006 12:32:49 PM PDT by BenLurkin
WASHINGTON - The Senate voted to build 370 miles of triple-layered fencing along the Mexican border Wednesday and clashed over citizenship for millions of men and women who live in the United States illegally.
Amid increasingly emotional debate over election-year immigration legislation, senators voted 83-16 to add fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the southern border. It marked the first significant victory in two days for conservatives seeking to place their stamp on the contentious measure.
The prospects were less favorable for their attempt to strip out portions of the legislation that could allow citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants and create new guest worker programs.
The Senate acted in a volatile political environment, as the White House struggled for a second day to ease the concerns of House Republicans who contend that President Bush favors amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Thousands of demonstrators massed a few blocks from the Capitol demanding immigrant rights.
Construction of the barrier would send "a signal that open-border days are over. ... Good fences make good neighbors, fences don't make bad neighbors," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (news, bio, voting record), R-Ala. He said border areas where barriers already exist have experienced economic improvement and reduced crime.
"What we have here has become a symbol for the right wing in American politics," countered Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. He said if the proposal passed, "our relationship with Mexico would come down to a barrier between our two countries."
The Senate labored to complete work by next week on immigration legislation that generally follows an outline Bush set out in a nationally televised speech this week.
The measure includes provisions to strengthen border security, create a new guest worker program and crack down on the hiring of illegal immigrants.
Most controversially, it offers an eventual chance at citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country. Senate Republicans staged an impromptu, occasionally emotional debate over whether that amounted to amnesty.
Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana said it did. "Surely this is a pardon from what present law says must happen," he said of provisions in the bill that require immigrants to undergo background checks, pay back taxes and take other steps before they can become citizens.
Sens. John McCain and Chuck Hagel replied heatedly it was not amnesty.
"Let's stop the nonsense," said Hagel, addressing fellow Republicans. "You all know it's not amnesty." Said McCain, addressing Vitter, "Call it a banana if you want to ... to call the process that we require under this legislation amnesty frankly distorts the debate and it's an unfair interpretation of it."
Vitter sought the last word. "Methinks thou dost protest too much."
The clash erupted after Vitter sought a change in the legislation to strip out provisions of the bill that would allow for guest worker programs and give some illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship.
Supporters of the Senate measure credited Bush's prime-time Monday night speech with giving fresh momentum to the effort to pass long-stalled legislation.
Across the Capitol in the House, the story was different. Republicans pushed through a border security bill last year, and several members of the rank-and-file have criticized Bush for his proposals. To calm their concerns, the White House dispatched Karl Rove to their weekly closed-door meeting.
Rep. Steve King (news, bio, voting record), R-Iowa, an outspoken opponent of the Senate bill, derided the effort. "I didn't see it was a persuasive event. If it was about Karl Rove seeking to convince members of Congress after debate that he's right and we're wrong it would have been better not to have the meeting," he said.
King said Rove told lawmakers Bush is sincere about enforcement. But, he added, "The president doesn't want to enforce immigration law because he's afraid he'll inconvenience someone who wants to come into the country for a better life."
Rep. Peter King (news, bio, voting record), R-N.Y., agreed that Rove did not seem to have been persuasive. "It's not the kind of issue you can compromise on; either you're giving amnesty to people who are here illegally or you aren't."
At the White House, press secretary Tony Snow defended Bush against criticism. "The president is actually taking a more aggressive role on border security than the House itself took," he said. "That is the sort of thing that is going to answer a lot of the complaints that we have heard."
The National Capital Immigration Coalition organized the afternoon demonstration on the National Mall a few blocks from where lawmakers debated the issue they cared about.
"This is a critical moment. We oppose the militarization of the U.S-Mexican border," said Juan Jose Gutierrez, one of the event's organizers.
Building 370 miles of fence is worse than building no fence at all. It will simply encourage illegals to travel through the desert to locations where there isn't a fence. It will simply result in the deaths of more illegals, but it won't stop them from coming.
To be effective, the fence HAS to cover most or ALL of the border to completely discourage border crossings.
Perhaps this is a start, but considering how difficult it was just to get 370 miles approved, it is not encouraging that more miles of fence will be built.
Rove told lawmakers . . . The president doesnt want to enforce immigration law because hes afraid hell inconvenience someone who wants to come into the country for a better life.
""King said Rove told lawmakers Bush is sincere about enforcement. But, he added, "The president doesn't want to enforce immigration law because he's afraid he'll inconvenience someone who wants to come into the country for a better life.""
Rove! Doing a double plus good job to earn that backend performance bonus after 2008 from the National Chamber of Commerce!
King said Rove told lawmakers Bush is sincere about enforcement. But, he added, The president doesnt want to enforce . . ."
The Representative said that, not Rove. That was his interpretation.
"King said Rove told lawmakers Bush is sincere about enforcement. But, he added, "The president doesn't want to enforce immigration law because he's afraid he'll inconvenience someone who wants to come into the country for a better life." "
And there we have it folks, Bush's strategist admitting that the president does not want to enforce the very laws he swore he would when sworn in. Even worse, because he doesn't want to inconvenience illegal aliens. So instead of working to increase legal immigration and streamline that process through legislation he chose to out and out ignore the laws on the books and do whatever he damn well pleased.
I am beyond disgusted.
Reread it... The Representative said that, not Rove. That was his interpretation.
LOL. He's sooo out of touch with his own people.
This "symbol" meme about the fence...does Durbin think we should tear down the fence already there?
The globalist lobbyist behind this must be laughing their rears off watching this show of Liberal guilt and shame. They manipulated it well. Lefty blogs have no voice, aimless, cowering from being labeled with the race card.
If the fence is "pork", then I'm going to have to change my attitude on wasteful government spending. Just call me a "spend and fence" conservative.
its a start but it needs to be 1,900 miles.
It better be.
My BP is now about 370/120 and my head is ready to explode.
If Dubya refuses to enforce the laws he swore an oath to uphold because of his 'feelings' he has NO business being POTUS. He should resign and go work at Bleeding Hearts 'R' Us.
That quote is just unf*king believably STOO-PID. <<<-head shaking->>>
(I gotta go take a pill}
That sounds great to me. I hope the 'pork-barrel' fence doesn't get stopped until it's a super-larded pork-barrel wall...
Somebody help me out, if you will. I'm trying to figure out what my representative voted on the original House immigration bill. Where do I go to figure this out?
For the 5th time... If you reread it, and put it in context. It seems the Representative said that, not Rove.
Too many holes in the fence if you ask me.
I've read it a number of time and it reads to me just the opposite.
Even if it was the Rep that said it his interpretation would have come directly from what Rove told them and based on what the administration has done to date to secure the border it would certainly seem to be the case.