May 23 2007

Senator opposed to amnesty

The Troy Messenger

By Matt Clower

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said he remains staunchly opposed to any immigration reform legislation that offers amnesty to current illegal immigrants.

Shelby, in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, said granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would be like rewarding them for breaking the law.

“If we were to pass this bill, and I'm afraid it will pass, though not with my vote, we are saying that if you break the law, if you come here and stay long enough, we'll give you a way to stay forever,” Shelby said.

The Senate is wrangling this week over provisions of the comprehensive immigration reform bill. The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the Senate turned back an early attack on the broad immigration overhaul, voting to keep alive a temporary worker provision that could bring in as many as 600,000 foreign laborers each year.

Shelby said he is not against a guest work program “per se.”

“We used to call them migrant workers. They would come and work and then go home,” Shelby said. “It was needed in our economy, and I am not against that.”

Shelby said he is most opposed to the provision in the bill that would grant quick legal status to the estimated 12 million immigrants in the country.

“If we knock out amnesty, I would look favorably on it. That's my number one problem with it,” Shelby said.

Shelby wants to see immigration legislation that would focus on tightening border security to “stop the hemorrhaging.”

“Do (illegal) immigrants create energy for the economy? Absolutely they do, but what does it say to the people who stood in line for the right to come in under the law?” Shelby said.