WASHINGTON - As immigration rights activists rallied outside the Capitol, senators broke Monday from the House's get-tough approach by refusing to make criminals of people who help illegal immigrants.
The Senate Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that would protect church and charitable groups, as well as individuals, from criminal prosecution for providing food, shelter, medical care and counseling to undocumented immigrants.
"Charitable organizations, like individuals, should be able to provide humanitarian assistance to immigrants without fearing prosecution," Durbin said.
The committee also approved more than doubling the current force of 11,300 Border Patrol agents in an effort to stem the tide of new undocumented workers arriving daily. It voted to add 2,000 agents next year and 2,400 more annually through 2011.
Update 1: It seems the Senate Judiciary Committee has come to a final decision on this immigration bill.
WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee approved sweeping election-year immigration legislation Monday that clears the way for 11 million illegal aliens to seek U.S. citizenship without having to first leave the country.
I think that this is a good idea. Immigrants who have lived here and worked here for a long time should not have to be sent back to their countries of origin. To be quite honest, I’m surprised that Republicans allowed this --well they all didn’t, but enough did-- because it seemed that immigration was their new pet project. I really expected them to go at this with full far-right fervor, leaving me totally hating everything they came up with. You know, the whole Conservative horrible idea machine.
The 12-6 vote was unusual, with a majority of Republicans opposed to the measure even though their party controls the Senate.
At several critical points, committee Democrats showed unity while Republicans splintered. In general, GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Mike DeWine of Ohio, who is seeking re-election this fall, sided with Democrats. That created a majority that allowed them to shape the bill to their liking.
That’s right folks, some Republicans actually strayed away from a party line vote. It’s like Armageddon, or something.
In purely political terms, the issue threatened to fracture Republicans as they head into the midterm election campaign — one group eager to make labor readily available for low-wage jobs in industries such as agriculture, construction and meatpacking, the other determined to place a higher emphasis on law enforcement.
That was a split Bush was hoping to avoid after a political career spent building support for himself and his party from the fast-growing Hispanic population.
It seems we are finally seeing a split between the far-right Republicans and the more moderate Republicans.
I agree with this entire legislation. For once, I feel that Republicans and Democrats worked together to produce something that I can agree with. Hopefully this bill will not be eroded when it comes out of the full Senate. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually agree with this 100 percent.