Republican Urged to Stand Firm Against 'Amnesty'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

( - Press reports say Senate negotiators are close to agreement on an immigration reform bill that is expected to please Democrats, President Bush and Republican business interests while disappointing anti-amnesty conservatives.

The bill that Republicans and Democrats have been working on for weeks reportedly would give millions of illegal immigrants a shot at U.S. citizenship.

The Associated Press said as of late Tuesday, it's "unclear whether the talks would result in a breakthrough or a meltdown."

The bill now being negotiated behind closed doors reportedly would give illegal aliens already in the country "Z" visas. To gain permanent residency, the illegal immigrants eventually would have to return to their home countries and pay fees and fines before gaining permanent residency.

Such a provision would reward law-breakers, some conservatives complain.

If the negotiators can't produce a bill, Sen. Harry Reid says he'll bring up an immigration bill that passed the Senate last year as a starting point for Senate debate.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona is believed to be the chief Republican negotiator on the immigration reform bill. In the past, he has strongly opposed any legislation that includes amnesty for illegal aliens, and Kyl's constituents are urging him not to change his mind now.

This week, more than a hundred Arizona Republicans, including the speaker of the Arizona house and the state senate majority leader, sent a letter to Kyl, urging him to stay true to his past campaign promises on immigration.

"It is with great concern that we observe your integral role in crafting an amnesty plan in concert with the Bush Administration. We urge you to abandon these efforts," wrote 112 leading Arizona Republicans in the May 14th letter.

"Kyl appears to be needlessly abandoning his principles to do the bidding of an unpopular president and an assortment of special interests," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). "The White House is banking on the fact that Kyl's support for a bill that includes an illegal alien amnesty will clear the way for other Republicans to support it."

Kyl has been quoted as saying that his role in crafting the compromise bill will prevent more radical amnesty provisions from creeping into the final legislation.

But some Republicans disagree: "No bill is better than a bad bill," Stein said in a news release.

"Once an amnesty is enacted it is irrevocable, and will inevitably turn out to be far larger
and more expensive than anyone anticipated."

Stein said any bill that includes amnesty for illegal aliens and a new guest worker program - in exchange for "worthless government promises to enforce immigration laws in the future" - is a betrayal of the public trust, not to mention Sen. Kyl's own principles.

"Like those who signed the letter to Kyl, we strongly urge him to pull the plug on a damaging and unjustifiable illegal alien amnesty bill," Stein concluded.

In another immigration-related development, President Bush on Wednesday planned to attend a demonstration of an Employment Eligibility Verification System, which employers could use to verify the legal status of their workers.

The White House said the president would follow the demonstration with a "roundtable discussion."

The Senate's immigration reform bill reportedly calls for a high-tech worker identification program as well as border security improvements.

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