Jun 27 2007

Shelby, Sessions, congressmen oppose immigration bill

Montgomery Advertiser

 By Kenneth Mullinax

The five legislators who represent the tri-county area in Washington all oppose the comprehensive immigration reform bill that could go before the Senate for a final vote as early as Thursday.

Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions and House members Terry Everett and Mike Rogers -- all Republicans -- are against the measure because it would grant amnesty to 12 million immigrants now in the United States illegally. Rep. Artur Davis, a Democrat, doesn't think the proposal does enough to help those now seeking permanent residency or citizenship.

The bill, resoundingly endorsed by President Bush, came to the Senate floor Tuesday after a 64-35 vote to allow debate. Shelby and Sessions opposed debate, essentially voting to kill the bill. A final vote could come as early as the end of the week. The House could vote on the measure before its August recess.

"As long as amnesty remains a component of this legislation, I will continue to vigorously oppose its enactment and encourage my colleagues to do the same," Shelby said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Besides the amnesty provision, the bill includes a temporary worker program for illegal immigrants and funding for border security.

Sessions has been one of the bill's most outspoken opponents. He spoke at length from the Senate floor Monday night.

"There is no free lunch in America, and you can't have an immigration law and not enforce it, then grant amnesty to millions of people and then expect others to follow the new law," he said.

Rogers opposes the bill because it doesn't keep illegal immigrants from crossing America's borders.

"I don't think very much of the immigration bill at all, and I am certain it will not succeed in the House," Rogers predicted in a telephone interview.

Everett, too, is voting "no" because he opposes the amnesty provision, said spokesman Mike Lewis. The congressman, according to Lewis, describes the provision as a "deal breaker."

Everett believes America is a nation of immigrants, but also a nation of laws, Lewis said.

Davis, the Democrat, opposes the bill because it doesn't do enough to ease the path of immigrants who play by the rules.

"We must legislate fairness and common sense so more people will follow the legal path and not get mired in the bureaucracy of our government's arcane rules," he said.