"These hearings are a con job on the American people," said Rep. Howard Berman, D-North Hollywood, who accused Republicans of avoiding a fight within the party ahead of elections. President Bush supports a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants, provisions that were included in Senate legislation passed in May.
Before the hearing, Catholic leaders including the Rev. Gilbert Chavez, auxiliary bishop of San Diego, gathered on the steps of downtown's St. Joseph Cathedral to denounce the hearings.
"It's time to put an end to these hearings that are asking all the wrong questions," said Rosemary Johnston, a board member of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights.