May 24 2007
The Sand Mountain Reporter
By David Clemons
Sen. Richard C. Shelby said he’s concerned about the message an immigration bill facing Senate consideration would send.
“We’ve always been told that we’re a nation of laws, but are we?” Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, said in a teleconference Tuesday in Washington. “I think what we’re doing, we’re saying it’s OK to break the law.”
A proposal in the Senate is being hailed by some as a compromise on immigration. It provides a path to citizenship for 12 million immigrants already in the United States and includes provisions for strengthening border security and a guest worker program.
The proposal sets out steps for immigrants to follow over a period of up to 12 years.
“It’s built around amnesty. I think it ignores the rule of law,” Shelby said. “I just think it will give people courage to keep coming, and where will we be in 20 years?”
Shelby said he was in the House of Representatives 21 years ago when what was called the “mother of all immigration bills,” the Immigration Reform and Control Act, passed.
“I said basically, then, it was just the beginning, and it was,” Shelby said.
Shelby said he’ll vote against anything to provide amnesty for illegal immigrants currently in the United States.
In a statement Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Sessions said he’s glad that debate on the issue and the “extraordinarily complex legislation” will continue past the Senate’s Memorial Day recess.
“The bill is critically important to the American people, and to railroad it through the Senate would be unthinkable,” Sessions, R-Mobile, said. “Senators have not received the final text of the legislation, which will be 800 pages or more.”
Rep. Robert B. Aderholt said he too is opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants.
“The people of Alabama and the 4th District have made it clear that they do not like amnesty; therefore, I cannot support any legislation that includes such a provision for illegal immigrants,” Aderholt, R-Haleyville, said in a statement.
“No amnesty is what we’re hearing. Any ‘compromise’ that includes amnesty is really no compromise at all.”
Aderholt said he has “major concern” about an eight- to 12-year grace period for illegal immigrants.
“It stretches credibility to believe that people will take the steps necessary to follow this path before it’s too late,” Aderholt said.
“It is far more likely that in 6 years, as illegal immigrants face this new deadline, a different Congress will offer legislation that will wipe out any penalties and allow these illegal immigrants a free and clear road to citizenship.
“Just look at our past history,” he said.
Aderholt said the 1986 law legalized 2.7 million illegal immigrants, but he believes millions more came into the United States in hopes of receiving citizenship.