San Diego Union Tribune

June 20, 2007

Caucus vows fight if immigration pact reaches the House


WASHINGTON – Rep. Brian Bilbray of Carlsbad and other “anti-amnesty” House Republicans delivered a sharp warning yesterday, saying compromise immigration legislation pending in the Senate faces raucous and determined opposition if it reaches the House.



“The way you stop illegal immigration is not to start by announcing that you're going to reward illegal immigration,” said Bilbray, chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus.

The group, made up of 100 Republicans and seven Democrats, opposes the Senate and Bush administration proposal to legalize the nation's 12 million illegal immigrants as part of a broad immigration law makeover.

The Senate recently debated and shelved the proposal but is moving toward a new round of debate. If the Senate passes it, attention will shift to the House.

Last year, with Republicans controlling both sides of Capitol Hill, the House passed an enforcement-only bill while the Senate approved a sweeping legalization. With the two chambers moving in opposite directions, both bills died.

This year, Democrats control the House and Senate. For that reason, it's unclear whether Bilbray and his largely Republican caucus would be able to defeat the legalization bill again.

However, that didn't stop them from talking tough yesterday in rejecting the latest gambit by proponents in the Senate to win over balky Republicans – a promise to spend $4.4 billion on border enforcement.

“Only in Washington would people believe that throwing money at the problem is going to solve it,” Bilbray said.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he would soon introduce legislation that would require a crackdown at the border and in the workplace.

“It's time to be resolute, it's time to show some backbone and it's time to stop amnesty,” King said.

The Senate could take up its immigration bill late this week, and a final vote on the measure could come as soon as next week.

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