Specter Proposes Increase in Aliens; Legal Entries Could Double

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 26, 2005 | Go to article overview

Specter Proposes Increase in Aliens; Legal Entries Could Double


Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A draft immigration bill from Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter calls for dramatic increases in legal immigration, far beyond any of the other major proposals now before Congress.

Immigration and border security have become the hottest issues in Washington, with senators and members of Congress filing bill after bill to address them. The Senate is preparing for a major debate early next year on an overhaul, including creating a new flow of foreign workers like that contained in the bill by Mr. Specter, Pennsylvania Republican.

The House, meanwhile, is pushing toward a vote this year specifically on border and immigration enforcement.

"What we want to do is go home saying we've taken a first step, and it's not just at the hearing level, and we've voted on something," said Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican and vice chairman of the House Republican Conference.

The two approaches underscore the difficulty Congress will have in putting together a bill for President Bush to sign, especially when, Mr. Kingston said, the politics of immigration have now joined "race, guns, school prayer, religion and Social Security" as the most volatile issues of American politics.

As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Specter might be able to control flow of the debate in the Senate with his bill. His measure combines provisions from several of his colleagues' bills, including requiring illegal aliens to return home, but only for a short period of time before being let back into the United States on a path to citizenship.

His biggest addition, though, is the increase in green card totals, or legal immigration.

A review by NumbersUSA, which advocates lower immigration levels, found that the level of legal, permanent immigration could double from its current level of more than 900,000 in fiscal 2004.

Rosemary Jenks, the group's director of government affairs, said Mr. Specter increases the cap on family-preference immigrants by 254,000 a year, raises the cap on employment-based visas by 150,000 a year, "recaptures" unused visas and exempts hundreds of thousands of family members from caps as well.

"My best estimate is more than doubled, so another million a year," she said.

A brief analysis by Michael M. …

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Specter Proposes Increase in Aliens; Legal Entries Could Double
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