Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
Declaring the Senate “should be ashamed” of itself, an opponent of a comprehensive immigration plan that includes a guest-worker program believes the measure will pass next week.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., made his remarks as the Senate prepared to act on a bill designed to tighten border security and provide a path to citizenship for most of the estimated 12 million illegal aliens in the country.
Sessions said a filibuster to block the bill is unlikely, but he believes the House and Senate will not be able to hammer out a compromise this year. The House’s companion bill, passed in December, calls for making illegal presence in the country a felony.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., won’t say whether he’ll support the bill.
President Bush has supported the Senate’s general approach, but he also has not publicly stated whether he would sign it into law.
The White House has expressed support for two amendments passed yesterday, one declaring English the national language and the other calling it the “common unifying language.”
White House press secretary Tony Snow said the president “wants to make sure that people who become American citizens have a command of the English language. It’s as simple as that.”
Some senators say the two amendments are contradictory, but 24 voted for both.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., explained: “We are trying to make an assimilation statement.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid charged yesterday that support of English as a national language is racist because it’s aimed at Spanish speakers.
The measure would make an exception for any language assistance already guaranteed by law. Anyone seeking citizenship would be required to demonstrate a “sufficient understanding of the English language for usage in everyday life.”
Yesterday, the Senate rejected an effort to limit Social Security benefits for illegal aliens who become permanent residents under an immigration reform bill being debated.
As it stands, the bill the Senate is considering would give millions of illegals a path to U.S. citizenship if they pay fines, back taxes and meet other requirements.
The Social Security proposal, offered by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., would have prevented illegals who become legal from collecting the benefit on wages they earned while working unlawfully.
“Social Security was not intended for people who entered our country illegally,” Ensign is quoted as saying.
Countered Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.: “Their money sits in the Social Security Administration waiting to be matched with an eligible beneficiary, and once those workers establish the eligibility, how in all fairness can we deny them the credit for their past contributions?”
As WorldNetDaily reported, Wednesday the Senate approved an amendment to the immigration reform bill that would direct the building of a triple-layer fence along 370 miles of the southern border with Mexico.
The Bush administration indicated yesterday the president supported the fence proposal.
“[The president] doesn’t think you fence off the entire border but there are places … where fences are appropriate, and then, you build fences there,” spokesman Tony Snow said.
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