Issues and Influentials in the Immigration Reform Debate 

By Ilene Rosenblum
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Updated Thursday, June 28, 2007; 12:31 p.m. ET

On June 28 the Senate effectively killed an attempt at a dramatic overhaul of the nation's immigration laws with a bipartisan filibuster. With a vote of 46-53, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and move to a final vote, handing the alliance of bipartisan Senate leaders who crafted the bill with White House approval a setback on a major domestic priority. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that after this second failure to bring the bill to a vote it will not be resurrected this Congressional session.

The bill faced tough opposition from Conservative critics, who called the bill an amnesty provision. Others voiced concern that it could separate families and leave a new group of temporary workers vulnerable to exploitation.

On May 9, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) introduced this year's attempt at a plan to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. On May 17, a bipartisan coalition of senators led by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) reached what appeared to be an adjusted compromise version of the legislation that met with President Bush's approval.

The Senate voted on a series of amendments May 22 to 24 and June 6 and 7 to tweak the fragile agreement. However, the coalition failed to move the bill forward on June 7.

On June 26, the Senate voted 64-35 to revive the legislation. Senators are considering 26 amendments that could alter key parts of it and leaders are expected to push for a final vote before Friday, when Congress begins a week-long break for the July 4 holiday. If the bill stalls, lawmakers are unlikely to bring it up again before next year's presidential election.

Key Provisions of Senate Bill as Introduced May 17 :

  • Illegal Immigrants: Allow nearly all of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants who entered the country before 2007 to apply for a "Z visa" that would permit them to live and work in the country as long as they pay a series of fees and renew their visas every two years. Applicants must pass a background check, remain employed and receive a counterfeit-proof biometric card.
  • Temporary Workers: Create a temporary-worker program that would grant two-year work "Y visas," renewable twice, as long as foreign workers leave the country between each period. Through a mostly merit-based "point" system based on education, job skills, market needs and English proficiency, immigrants can work toward receiving a visa. Allow as many as 600,000 foreign laborers a year into the country. (An amendment to the bill passed that would scale back the number to 200,000.)
  • The Border: Make provisions above contingent on increased border security by raising the number of border patrol agents from 13,000 to 18,000, building new vehicle barriers, fencing, ground-based radar and camera towers.
  • Workplace Enforcement: Strengthen enforcement by fining employers who hire illegal immigrants up to $5,000 for a first offense and up to $75,000 for subsequent offenses with possible jail time.
  • Green Cards: Create a new system for green-card applications that would deemphasize family ties and favor applicants with advanced education, work skills and English-language proficiency. Visas for parents would be capped.

Amendments Considered in the Senate June 27: 

Rejected:

  • Hutchinson Amendment - Would require illegal immigrants to return to their home countries before they could qualify for a renewable Z visa to live and work lawfully in the United States. 53-45.
  • Menendez Amendment - Would grant points to those with family in the United States to those waiting for a visa. 55-40
  • Webb Amendment - Would have given legal status only to those illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least four years. Its defeat leaves intact a provision in the bill that extends eligibility for legalization to those who arrived by Jan. 1, 2007. 79-18
  • Dodd Amendment - Would have increased the availability of green cards for relatives of those already in the United States. 56-41
  • Bond Amendment - Would have denied citizenship to all illegal immigrants. 56-41

Amendments Considered in the Senate June 6 and 7: 

Passed:

  • Cornyn Amendment No. 1250 - To strike the confidentiality protections for legalization applicants. 57-39.
  • Dorgan Amendment No. 1316 - To end the Y-1 guest worker program after a five-year period. It clarifies that the H-2A visa program would not be subject to this termination. 49-48.
  • Inhofe Amendment No. 1151 - To declare English as the national language of the United States. It provides that the English language be the default language for government communication, and that no person has a right to have the government communicate in any language other than English, unless "specifically stated in applicable law." 64-33
  • Kennedy Amendment No. 1333 - To create inadmissibility and deportability grounds for various categories of offenders, including gang members, sex offenders and drunk drivers, so they will not qualify for the legalization program. 66-32.
  • Kyl Amendment No. 1460 - To modify the allocation of visas with respect to the backlog of family-based visa petitions. 51-45.
  • Reid Amendment No. 1331 - To clarify that nothing in the bill would change the prohibition on illegal aliens gaining access to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). 57-40.
  • Salazar Amendment No. 1384 - To reaffirm that English is the common language of the United States, but does not undermine existing law that requires the government to provide native language documentation for safety, health care, education, and other services. 58-39.
  • Sanders Amendment No. 1223 - To raise the fees for employers who wish to import H-1B high-skill nonimmigrant workers from $1,500 to $8,500, with the funds going to scholarships for U.S. citizens pursuing high-tech studies. 59-35
  • Sessions Amendment No. 1234 - To deny the EITC for undocumented individuals applying for "Z visa" status and "Y visa" holders until they become a permanent resident. 56-41.
  • Lieberman Amendment - To reform the asylum process by improving translation services, access to legal counsel and medical for those seeking aslym. It would also establish an Office of Detention Oversight within the Department of Homeland Security. Agreed to by voice vote.
  • Thomas Amendment - To authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish up to five additional units of 15 Customs and Border Patrol Officers on Indian reservations. Agreed to by voice vote.
  • Schumer Amendment - To provide for the establishment of B-1 visitor visa decision-making guidelines and a tracking system. Agreed to by voice vote.
  • Hutchison Amendment - To prohibit obtaining Social Security benefits based on earnings obtained during any period without work authorization. Agreed to by voice vote.

Rejected:

  • Bingaman Amendment No. 1267 - To remove the requirement that Y-1 nonimmigrant visa holders leave the U.S. before they are able to renew their visa. 41-57.
  • Clinton Amendment No. 1183 - To remove limits on visas for the spouses and minor children of immigrants with permanent resident status. 44-53
  • Cornyn Amendment No. 1184 - To bar criminals - including those ordered by judges to be deported - from gaining legal status. Democrats won adoption of a rival version that would ban a more limited set of criminals, including certain gang members and sex offenders, from gaining legalization. 46-57.
  • DeMint Amendment No. 1197 - To tie participation in a health plan to access to legal status, thereby limiting the number of people who would qualify for legalization. Rejected 43-55.
  • Ensign Amendment No. 1374 - To increase weight placed on education and skills but eliminate the family credits for "Z visa" eligibility. 42-55.
  • Menéndez-Hagel Amendment No. 1194 - To reclassify spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents as "immediate relatives," thereby exempting them from visa caps. This would have allowed as many as 833,000 more visas than the bill now offers, based purely on family connections. Under a Senate procedural rule invoked by opponents to the amendment, 60 votes were needed for passage. 44-53.
  • Obama Amendment No. 1202 - To end the new point system for those seeking green cards in five years rather than 14 years. 42-55.
  • Vitter Amendment No. 1339 - To require that the U.S. VISIT system - the biometric border check-in/check-out system first required by Congress in 1996, which is past its already postponed 2005 implementation due date - be finished as part of the enforcement legislation. 48-49.
A full list of submitted amendments can be found here.

Key Players:

In the Senate 


Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) - Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship

As the bill's leading Senate negotiator with the White House, this is the third time that the liberal Massachusetts senator has backed a major initiative of President Bush's (the other two were the No Child Left Behind education law and a Medicare prescription drug bill). Kennedy is pushing for more recognition of less-skilled workers in the green-card point system.

"Year after year, we've had the broken borders," Kennedy said before the June 28 vote. "Year after year, we've seen the exploitation of workers. Year after year, we've seen the people who live in fear within our own borders. This is the opportunity to change it."

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) - U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship

The leading Republican negotiator, Kyl is under intense criticism in his border state for creating a guest worker program and a path to citizenship.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) - Ranking Republican, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security

On May 29, Cornyn said that he is "unhappy" with the compromise. "I'm not going to support a bill, just any old bill, just to send the bill to the president. It's got to be a good bill. This bill does not meet that description. I don't know if it ever will," the Dallas Morning News reported.

He voted against the procedural motion to revive the bill again on June 26.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) - Senate Majority Leader

Reid is a cosponsor of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which eliminates denial of an unlawful immigrant's eligibility for higher education benefits based on state residence, a part of the current legislation. Reid has called for strong border enforcement, tough sanctions against employers who hire undocumented immigrants and allowing for undocumented immigrants to earn U.S. citizenship.


White House 


President George W. Bush

Bush was encouraging legislators to back the compromise plan reached by the White House and a group of senators on May 17. He has vehemently defended the bill against conservative critics from his own party who call it an amnesty provision. He acknowledges that the bill is a compromise but recognizes it as a chance to fix a broken system. On June 28, before the critical cloture vote, Bush called senators, urging their support for the measure.

On June 14, Bush endorsed a plan by Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), that grants $4.4 billion in accelerated funding for the legislation to beef up border security and prevent illegal immigrants from being hired in an attempt to appeal to conservatives who are opposed to the bill that is stalled in the Senate.

The following are some of Bush's most recent comments on the compromise:

"And [Secretary of Commerce] Carlos [Gutierrez] and [Secretary of Homeland Security] Mike Chertoff spent a lot of time sitting with the senators from both political parties. I don't know if you're tired of it, but a lot of Americans are simply tired of this endless political bickering, that we can't work together because it might make somebody else look good. I tried to change the system. It's not working. So I sat the two secretaries in there with the senators from both parties and said, "OK, why don't we sit down and see if we can't figure something -- something what's good for the country? Each side's going to have to give a little bit. Not everybody's going to get everything they want. But what matters more is fixing the problem now. And we're making some progress."

-- May 29, before U.S. Customs and Border Patrol trainees, Glynco, Ga.

"On a piece of legislation this complicated, the question people have to answer is: Are we going to sacrifice for the good for the sake of the perfect?"

-- June 1, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington

"We're going to show the American people that the promises in this bill will be kept."

-- June 14, Associated Builders and Contractors conference, Washington


In the House of Representatives 


Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) - Speaker of the House

"I agree that it's a good first step," Pelosi said of the bill on May 19. However, she expressed concern about family reunification. "A point system for unification undermines our family values that we espouse in our country," she said. "I don't know why we have to make a compromise on reunification of families. I really don't."

Pelosi has indicated that any House immigration bill introduced this summer is likely to look considerably different from the Senate bill, which is designed to attract more Republican votes.

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.)

The lead House negotiator said he disagrees with Senate version favoring immigrants with certain skills. "We need to find a system that values and honors the work of all," he said, shortly after the Senate compromise was reached. "The landscaper is just as important as the computer scientist."

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

Flake, who with Rep. Gutierrez introduced the STRIVE Act, the House's reform proposal, applauded the Senate compromise, saying: "Our task in the House is to build a similar coalition."

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) - House Majority Whip

Clyburn, along with Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), is conducting a series of "listening sessions" this week with members of Congress from different regions to build a consensus among House Democrats on a comprehensive package of immigration changes. If they are successful, Clyburn and Becerra will be largely responsible for drafting immigration legislation to send to the Judiciary Committee, which could then send a bill to the House floor before Congress departs for its August recess.

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) - House Minority Leader

Boehner has sounded his party's call for an enforcement-first approach. "Securing our borders and stopping the flood of illegal immigration into the United States must be the first priority of this Congress," Boehner said in a statement. He expressed "significant concerns about parts of the Senate proposal - particularly provisions that would reward illegal immigrants who have consistently broken our laws."


Presidential Candidates' Views 


Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.)

In November, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's chairman called Mexico an "erstwhile democracy" with a "corrupt system" that is responsible for the illegal immigration and drug problems in America. Unless the political situation changes in Mexico and American employers who hire illegal immigrants are punished, illegal immigration won't stop, he said. "All the rest is window dressing," he said. Biden abstained from voting on consideration of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act on May 17.

Biden also abstained from voting to invoke cloture to proceed to consider the original compromise on May 21. He voted "Yes" on the June 7 cloture motion to cut off debate on the measure and bring it to a final vote, and voted to revive the bill again on June 26 and on June 28 voted in favor of bringing the bill to a final vote.

In the last Congress, Biden voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized the construction of 700 miles of double-layered fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border, and the failed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)

Clinton is pushing for family reunification and cosponsored an amendment with Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Robert Menéndez (D-N.J.) that would allow spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residence to be exempt from visa caps.

Clinton abstained from voting to invoke cloture to proceed to consider the original compromise on May 21. She voted "Yes" on the June 7 cloture motion to cut off debate on the measure and bring it to a final vote, and she voted in favor of reviving the bill again on June 26 and on June 28 approved bringing the bill to a final vote.

Clinton has cosponsored the DREAM Act, which would allow certain alien students to meet residency requirements for higher education, and the AgJOBS bill, which would open the way to legal status for some agriculture workers. She has also pushed for passage of the Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act and the Access to Employment and English Acquisition Act. In the last Congress, she voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and last year's Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)

Dodd introduced an amendment to unite parents with their children who are U.S. citizens by increasing the annual cap on green cards for parents and extending the duration of the parent visitor visa. Dodd abstained from voting on consideration of the May 17 reform compromise.

Dodd abstained from voting to invoke cloture to proceed to consider the original compromise on May 21. He voted "Yes" on the June 7 cloture motion to cut off debate on the measure and bring it to a final vote and also supported reviving the bill on June 26 and on June 28 approved bringing the bill to a final vote.

In the last Congress, he voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006.

John Edwards

The former senator from North Carolina has expressed concerns about a "poorly conceived" guest worker program. Edwards said he supports an "earned path" to citizenship for illegal immigrants, which includes paying a fine and learning English.


Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.)

Obama has called the compromise's green card point plan a "radical experiment in social engineering." He has criticized the bill for favoring immigrants with stronger job skills rather than for their character and work ethic and has cosponsored an amendment with Menéndez that would weaken the point system that favors immigrations with higher education. He did not vote on consideration of the larger reform compromise introduced May 17.

Obama has outlined several provisions for immigration reform. He identified security checks and application backlogs as a major problem with the current immigration process and introduced legislation that passed the Senate to improve the speed and accuracy of these background checks. Obama supports providing a path for undocumented immigrants to earn their citizenship.

Obama abstained from voting to invoke cloture to proceed to consider the original compromise on May 21. He voted "Yes" on the June 7 cloture motion to cut off debate on the measure and bring it to a final vote and he voted to revive the measure on June 26 and on June 28 he again approved bringing the bill to a final vote.

In the last Congress, Obama voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006.


Bill Richardson

The New Mexico governor and the only Hispanic in the Democratic presidential race says he opposes the legislation, citing misgivings about supporting job skills over family unification and for additions to the border fence. "It's a terrible symbol," he said. Richardson has stated that he believes the number of temporary workers should be adjusted to the needs of the U.S. economy so guest workers would not be taking citizens' jobs. He supports allowing immigrants who arrived illegally the opportunity to gain legal status after passing a background checks, learning English and paying back taxes. Richardson supports increasing the number of legal immigrant guest workers. He has called the requirement for the head of the household to leave the country and reenter legally "bureaucratic and problematic."

Fred Thompson

The former senator from Tennessee urged Congress to "scrap this bill and the whole debate until we can convince the American people that we have secured the borders or at least have made great headway."

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)

Last year Brownback, a conservative, stood out in sponsoring a reform bill that would have allowed millions of illegal immigrants to seek U.S. citizenship. Though one of the seven original sponsors of this year's reform compromise, he was assailed by conservatives as liberal and later rescinded his support after its passage. He said the bill would lead to "chain migration," allowing immigrants to sponsor family members.

Brownback voted in favor of invoking cloture to consider the original compromise on May 21. He voted "No" on the June 7 cloture motion to cut off debate on the bill and bring it to a final vote. He voted in favor of reviving the bill on June 26, but on June 28 he voted against bringing the measure to a final vote.

In the previous Congress, Brownback voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006.

Rudy Giuliani

The former New York mayor has criticized the bill as an ineffective "hodgepodge" that lacks a central focus and a plan for keeping track of foreigners crossing the border. "The problem with this immigration plan is it has no real unifying purpose," he said on June 5 during a debate among candidates vying for the GOP nomination. "It's a typical Washington mess. It's everybody compromises. ... And when you look at these compromises, it is quite possible it will make things worse.

Giuliani has said he would be willing to compromise on legalizing illegal immigrants, but only if legislation requires tamper-proof identification cards and a database of foreigners. On June 7, he issued a statement in support of Sen. Vitter's failed amendment, which would have required a biometric identification card for every non-citizen in the country.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

As one of the bill's co-sponsors, McCain has taken heavy criticism from his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, particularly from former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for backing the compromise legislation. The Senate unanimously approved an amendment he introduced that requires illegal immigrants to pay back taxes on earnings for the time they had been in the United States. (Some have questioned the feasibility of collecting such back taxes.) McCain did not vote on whether to move forward with the bill's consideration on May 21.

During a speech to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce on June 4, McCain said passage of the compromise bill is an "imperfect" effort to deal with the issue, but he called it "a serious, comprehensive and practical attempt to secure our borders, defend the rule of law, help our economy grow and make it possible for the United States to know who has entered this country illegally." He also challenged his critics to come up with a better plan: "If someone objects to it, especially if they are a candidate for president, they should have the responsibility and courage to propose another way."

McCain was only one of four senators to not vote on the June 7 cloture motion to cut off debate on the measure and bring it to a final vote. He voted in favor of reviving the legislation on June 26 and on June 28 approved bringing the measure to a final vote.

In the last Congress, McCain voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006.

Mitt Romney

Romney has offered mixed messages on immigration. He described last year's bipartisan reform efforts as "reasonable proposals," but characterized this year's plans as "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. During the June 5 GOP debate he said that providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants would be unfair to those who arrived legally: "Every illegal alien, almost everyone, under this bill, gets to stay here," he said. "That's not fair to the millions and millions of people around the world that would love to come here, join with family members, bring skill and education that we need." However Romney has also said that he would "not deny" illegal immigrants the "opportunity to apply for permanent residency or citizenship." In a statement released June 4, Romney said the bill "falls short" of a solution to immigration problems.

He has also said that he favors a biometric identification system for immigrants.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.)

A staunch opponent of illegal immigration, Tancredo criticizes the proposal's path to legal status as an amnesty measure that rewards lawbreakers. Tancredo, who was chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus until February, wants to have every illegal immigrant in the country deported and to make English the country's official language. During the June 5 debate, he took an extreme stance, calling for suspension of most legal immigration. He favors strengthening the Mexican border and cracking down hard on illegal immigration at the workplace.

In the 109th Congress, Tancredo voted in favor of the House version of the Secure Fence Act of 2006

Interest Groups

Business 


Some business groups have called the temporary-worker program impractical and protest a provision that would force employers to verify the legal status of every worker in the country. Of concern in some sectors is the bill's point system for permanent-residence visas, or green cards, which would deprive them of the ability to bring in foreign workers with distinct skills they need. Industries needing highly skilled, well-educated workers and industries employing lower-wage, minimally skilled workers have both identified problems with the compromise.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce backs the proposal as "the countours of a sound compromise." Of particular concern to the chamber is a backlog in the immigration bureaucracy that impedes the movement of legitimate cargo and travelers. The group advocates the expansion of temporary visa programs for essential workers, while ensuring that temporary workers would not take jobs being filled by U.S. citizens.

The National Association of Home Builders issued a statement rejecting the reform bill, saying that its problems are "grave and extensive" and if enacted "would do irreparable harm to America's small businesses." The trade association, whose members employ thousands of immigrant workers, says the bill could hurt employers who unwittingly hire illegal immigrants. The group is also concerned about language that would limit the number of permanent-resident green cards for low-skill workers needed by many construction crews.

The National Association of Manufacturers supports exempting foreign nationals who are graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees from a visa cap and backs an amendment by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) that would keep the existing green card system largely intact, arguing that it would keep employers' flexibility in selecting workers with needed skill sets.

Immigrant Advocacy Groups 


Several immigrant groups fault the proposed guest-worker program for denying them rights and a path to citizenship. Some also say the point system may limit the diversity of immigrants and allow bias in favor of immigrants from English-speaking countries.

National Council of La Raza, a Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, applauds the bill under consideration though it said it has "serious concerns about the specifics." It supports the DREAM Act, which would allow certain alien students to meet residency requirements for higher education, and the AgJOBS bill, which would open the way to legal status for some agriculture workers.

The League of United Latin American Citizens opposes the reform because it says the temporary workers program does not provide "a meaningful pathway to permanent legal residence" and eliminates some family-based green card categories. It supports the DREAM Act and AgJOBS bill.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a nonprofit Latino litigation, advocacy and educational outreach institution, is pushing hard for family reunification and to eliminate some provisions that would bar illegal immigrants from becoming legalized


Labor 


The Service Employees International Union, representing 1.3 million workers, supports a wider legalization program and stricter workplace enforcement to deter employers from skirting the law for competitive advantage. In a letter to Sen. Kennedy, the SEIU criticized the bill's legalization provisions as "unacceptable and unworkable," claiming that undocumented workers will not leave the country voluntarily. Service workers would like to create a path to citizenship for these temporary workers, such as the STRIVE Act in the House version of the bill. They also call for increasing the number of visas available for family reunification.

The AFL-CIO and the Laborers' International Union of North America oppose the immigration bill, arguing that workers here on a temporary basis are more vulnerable to labor violations. The AFL-CIO, whose members have historically viewed illegal immigrants as competitors, contends that some temporary workers will stay in this country illegally rather than go home when their visa expires.

The UNITE HERE International Union, representing 450,000 workers in the textile, hotel, casino, foodservice and restaurant industries, supports the legalization of undocumented workers and replacing employer sanctions with labor law enforcement. It is concerned about the creation of an underclass of temporary workers who have no chance of gaining citizenship.

Other Groups 


The Roman Catholic Church is concerned about the separation of families and the potential for the exploitation of temporary workers who cannot get full rights and supports an earned legalization program for the country's undocumented workers. Catholicism is the religion of the majority of Latin Americans, the population most central to the immigration debate. In a May 17 statement, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed "significant reservations" about the proposal with regard to these issues. During his May 22 testimony before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, representing U.S. bishops, said: "From the church perspective, a family member from Central America, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean or elsewhere could well offer the country as much as a computer software engineer. Wenski proposed a new worker visa program agreed on by U.S. and Mexican bishops as a way to safeguard the rights of migrant workers.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials does not support the compromise because the group believes the law reduces the emphasis on family reunification, does not provide a clear path to legal permanent residency for temporary workers and considers the legalization requirements of returning to one's home country and paying a penalty to be "unfair and burdensome." It supports the compromise's "earned" legalization program, the DREAM Act and the temporary worker program that provides workers with legal status and labor protections.

U.S. Border Control, a lobbying group dedicated to ending illegal immigration, issued an action alert against the "Amnesty Bill" calling it "a betrayal of everything America stand[s] for."

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