(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) warned Republicans to either accept the Senate's version of immigration reform - which includes amnesty for illegal aliens - or risk losing Congress to Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections.
"If we can't get this Congress to pass fair immigration before now, we'll elect a new Congress in November that will pass it," said Kennedy to a cheering crowd at a rally supporting amnesty for illegal aliens on the National Mall. "We will pass an immigration bill in Congress that is worthy of America."
Thousands of people gathered to hear Kennedy speak in support of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (S. 2611), one of two bills currently under consideration by Congress. The turnout was significantly less than the hundreds of thousands predicted by rally organizers.
Kennedy also used the opportunity to rally for something closer to home when he spotted some of his constituents from Massachusetts.
"I see some Massachusetts people here," Kennedy said. "They are gonna get me re-elected."
The crowd laughed in response.
Switching back to immigration, Kennedy criticized the Republican-led Congress for not passing the Senate bill.
"Congress does not have the right or the luxury to let four weeks go by refusing to deal with it," Kennedy said.
The House of Representatives has passed differing legislation (H.R. 4473), which would implement deportation and other enforcement activities targeting illegal aliens and the businesses that employ them, before any type of "guest worker" program could begin.
Amelia of Gettysburg, Pa., agrees with the idea of border security in principle, but supports amnesty for illegal aliens who are already in the United States.
"[I want] legalization for the people that is [sic] already here and they have a job, because if they have a job in this place, they are needed," she said. "We came here to scream as loud as we can, because we need to be heard. We need them [Congress] to understand."
Tyler, a schoolteacher who was part of small counter-protest on the fringe of the crowd, opposes amnesty for illegal aliens.
"It's unfair for people who are trying to come here legally for these criminals to cut in line ahead of them," he said. "These protesters are effectively demanding that the law be bent to allow people who violated the law to cut in front of immigrants who are waiting to get here legally."
He believes that - by enforcing its immigration laws - America is only exercising its right to protect its borders and to improve its national security.
"[The protesters] want any restrictions on immigration to be completely removed, which is ridiculous, because we need the lawful ability to regulate who comes into this country," Tyler said. "Every other nation has the right to do that."
Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-Brief.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.