Activists Fired Up As Senate Advances on Immigration Bill

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - "No human being is illegal," says a Quaker organization that will spend much of Wednesday demanding "real solutions" to America's immigration crisis.

The group advocates a path to citizenship for people who came to this country illegally; it wants "worker rights" for future migrants; and "respect and protection of civil and human rights for all migrants and border communities."

On the other side of the debate, those who insist that people should not be rewarded for sneaking into the country illegally will visit Capitol Hill on Wednesday, hoping to change the minds of so-called "Amnesty Republicans."

The American Friends Service Committee and a coalition of 48 grassroots "immigrant-rights" organizations are holding press conferences around the nation on Wednesday, at which activists will urge Congress to "dramatically change course on immigration reform."

The activists say the House and Senate bills do not address the root causes of immigration; they complain that the pending legislation creates an "apartheid-like, multi-tiered legalization process," is heavy on "detention and deportation actions" and eliminates "core elements" of the nation's legal system, including due process under the law.

"For more than twenty years, the U.S. has poured billions into harsher penalties, more deportation, increased technology and border patrol officers, and more detention facilities -- efforts that do nothing to bring thousands of immigrant families out of the shadows into full membership in our society," the AFSC said in a press release announcing Wednesday's press conferences.

The House has passed an enforcement-only immigration bill; and the Senate this week is finishing work on a more lenient bill that includes a path to "earned citizenship" for illegal aliens already in this country. Conservative critics call the provision "amnesty."

(A final vote on the Senate bill could come this week; but the issue of immigration reform faces an uncertain future if -- as some expect -- the House refuses to take a final vote on a compromise bill.)

'Amnesty Republicans'

Petitions opposing the "Senate amnesty plan" will be presented to so-called "Amnesty Republicans" on Wednesday., a grassroots conservative organization, said the petitions are intended to ensure that "the voice of citizens is heard over the objectionable protests of illegal aliens."

Citizens "overwhelmingly oppose amnesty," said President Steve Elliott.

Grassfire's petition, which demands secure U.S. borders and rejects amnesty, is gathering steam, with more than 120,000 citizens signing it in the past week, Elliott said.

The group is targeting Republican senators who have either shown support for earned citizenship/amnesty -- or are undecided. Grassfire said those senators include Bennett, Brownback, Chafee, Coleman, Collins, Craig, DeWine, Graham, Hagel, Lugar, Martinez, McCain, Shelby, Snowe, Specter, Stevens, Voinovich and Warner.

"Without the votes of these Republicans, there is no amnesty," Elliott said. "President Bush and these Amnesty Republicans are playing into their opponents' hands, dividing our nation and demoralizing their base. They should focus on what the vast majority of citizens agree on: border security and tough law enforcement."

Grassfire says its nationwide "Stop The Invasion" billboard campaign is expanding from coast-to-coast and will reach six states by June 1.

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