Immigration Reform Revisited
Bipartisan Bill in House Includes Guest-Worker Program
By Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 23, 2007;
A bipartisan proposal for comprehensive immigration reform that would allow millions of illegal immigrants to participate in a guest-worker program and possibly gain citizenship was introduced in the House yesterday, the first to be submitted since Democrats took control of Congress this year.
The proposal from Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is a far cry from a measure passed by the Republican-controlled House in 2005 that focused on tough enforcement actions to reduce illegal immigration. The House bill died in a conference committee along with a competing Senate bill that was similar to the Flake-Gutierrez proposal.
Flake said the legislation is needed because current laws have failed to seal the border and to stop the hiring of illegal workers. "This bill addresses that problem by bolstering border security, increasing interior enforcement, and creating a temporary worker program that's enforceable and fair," he said.
Gutierrez acknowledged that opponents of guest-worker programs inside and outside the House will try to pick the bill apart. "I know that there are those out there already revving up their fax machines, ready to malign and mischaracterize this legislation," he said.
The bill seeks to clamp down on illegal border crossings from Mexico while allowing some illegal
workers and their family members already in the United States to legally remain for up to six years if they pay a $1,000 fine for breaking the law and continuously hold a job.
Illegal immigrants who become guest workers could eventually become citizens if they have broken no additional laws, leave the country, return legally, pay a second $1,000 fine and become proficient English speakers.
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