Gingrich Calls Immigration Reform Compromise 'Cave-In'

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - A Senate compromise bill on immigration reform announced by Senate leadership amounts to a "cave-in," former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Thursday afternoon that they had reached agreement on the legislation, which would allow illegal immigrants inside the U.S. for more than five years the opportunity to become U.S. citizens after they pay a fine and meet certain requirements.

"It is very important for America to control its borders for national security reasons," said Gingrich in a statement.

"It is also important for America to continue to develop a system to encourage patriotic legal immigration whereby immigrants are on the path to becoming American citizens by being effectively integrated and assimilated into American society," he added.

Gingrich said immigration reform must instead be focused on holding U.S. employers accountable for hiring illegal aliens.

"Any new proposal should sanction severely employers who willfully break the law by hiring workers without verifying legal status or by failing to pay employment taxes on them," said Gingrich. "The key to a legal temporary guest worker program is ensuring that employers only hire employees with legal status."

The Senate is expected to pass the reform legislation in time for the senators' two-week break, which begins this weekend.

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