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GOP LEADERS CALL FOR BORDER SECURITY FIRST, THEN OTHER ASPECTS OF PROBLEM
by MONTANA NEWS ASSOCIATION
By Bill Fancher and Jim Brown
September 25, 2006
WASHINGTON, DC (AgapePress) - In Washington, DC, House Republican leaders say a series of public hearings across the country have given them a clear message on what needs to be done to secure the country's borders.
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri says the hearings led to the conclusion that a "comprehensive" bill on immigration is not necessary to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. The term "comprehensive immigration bill" is code for an amnesty-based, "guest worker" program -- which the GOP leader maintains will not happen if his party maintains control of the House in the upcoming mid-term elections.
According to Blunt, great strides are already being made toward fixing the problem of illegal immigration. "We spent over twenty-million new dollars for fencing, for Border Patrol agents, [and] for detention facilities," he explains. And Blunt says the U.S. no longer has a "catch and let go" policy, but rather a "catch and send back" policy. He says a new House bill will allocate even more money to further secure the border.
He says the legislation would designate "another twenty-two billion new dollars for the virtual fencing of the border, for the kinds of things that need to be done that secure the border." Such legislation, he contends, would mean "we don't have to have a comprehensive bill to get to the important first step, which is to stop the problem from getting bigger."
'Ellis Island Centers' Proposed
Meanwhile, the leader of the House Conservative Caucus is urging conservative voters to back his proposed approach to a "guest worker" program. Indiana Republican Mike Pence says the plan he developed with Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson is where justice and mercy meet. He told conservative activists at the Values Voter Summit in Washington this weekend that the plan takes care of border security exclusively for two years and rejects amnesty.
"Once we have secured our borders -- and [after] they are verifiably secured -- and once we have rejected amnesty, then I will say, not without controversy, that I believe we should create a new 'guest worker' program without amnesty and without creating a new massive federal bureaucracy," he stated, adding that participants in this program would also be required to "learn our native tongue."
The Pence-Hutchinson program involves private sector-based "Ellis Island centers" outside the U.S. where illegal immigrants who desire to work in the U.S. would first undergo background checks and health screenings before being granted a two-year guest worker visa -- provided they commit to learn English. Pence says the plan has its critics, but has won the approval of President Bush, who he recently met with in the Oval Office to discuss the plan.
"The president said he was intrigued with our proposal," Pence shared with those at the Summit. "[He liked] the way that we put border security first, the way that we rejected amnesty -- but [also] the way that we found a way [to address the issue] that consisted within our laws, to create an orderly system built in the private sector to meet the needs of our economy. And he said, 'I'm intrigued.'"
Pence described illegal immigration as "the most pressing domestic policy issue in a generation."