Feb. 23, 2006: Senate Has Yet To Draft Its Version (Of Immigration Bill)
Senate has yet to draft its version
By Peter Clark
Newsday, February 23, 2006
House legislation that would severely stiffen the penalty for helping and hiring undocumented immigrants will not be taken up in the Senate until next month.
Language in the bill, drafted by Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford) and F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), created an uproar in many advocate groups that try to provide immigrants aid.
King, however, made statements that he would push to take out any words that upset those groups. Advocates have complained that the bill would make it a crime to assist undocumented immigrants.
Kevin Appleby, director of the Office of Migration and Refugee Policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, does not feel confident about King's position. He said because the House passed the bill with the controversial language intact, it was its intention for the language to become law.
In December, the Sensenbrenner-King bill was passed in the House by a 239-182 vote. But before the bill becomes law, the Senate Judiciary Committee must draft its version of the immigration bill and pass it in the Senate, which is thought to be less unfriendly to immigrants than the House. A joint Senate-House conference committee would then meet to work out the differences.
The Senate's immigration bill is most likely to blend aspects of different bills.
Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, is hopeful that the spirit of the immigration bill sponsored by Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), which includes a guest worker program, will outweigh the legislation by Sensenbrenner and King.