Securing the border with Mexico
The Senate, which has been the major obstacle to strict border-security legislation this year, will take up a bill this week that calls for constructing 700 more miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"It's time to secure the border with Mexico," Majority Leader Bill Frist said last night before filing the parliamentary motions to force the House-passed bill onto the Senate floor in a final effort to get a major immigration bill on the president's desk before the elections.
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Minority Leader Harry Reid, said the move "smacks of desperation" and was a "clear repudiation of President Bush's call for comprehensive legislation."
The Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was easily approved by the House last week, contains none of the "comprehensive" measures that President Bush, Democrats and some Senate Republicans have demanded. Those include provisions to grant citizenship rights to about 10 million illegal aliens living in the country and a guest-worker program that would usher hundreds of thousands more foreign laborers into the U.S.
"Mr. Frist was for comprehensive reform before he was against it," Mr. Manley said.
On the Senate floor last night, Mr. Frist said he still supports comprehensive immigration reform legislation. But, he said, because no consensus can now be reached on other issues, Congress should move ahead with border security. It's not "enforcement only," he said, but "enforcement first."
"Border security is the essential first step of any effort to enact immigration reform," Mr. Frist said. "Only when we have convinced the American people of our commitment to securing our borders will we be able to reach a consensus on comprehensive immigration reform."
The last time the Senate considered a border-security-only bill, the measure failed, with all but two Democrats and 20 Republicans refusing even to debate it. Since then, several Republicans bent on comprehensive reform have told The Washington Times that they would now consider legislation that dealt only with stopping the flow of illegal aliens into the country.
Still Time To Block Immigration-Induced Leftism—If We Act Now