Enforcement Bill Tests Debate; Immigration Not Partisan
Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A Democratic senator yesterday introduced an enforcement-only immigration bill, joining forces with House Democrats and Republicans to try to shake up the immigration debate.
Sen. Mark Pryor's bill is identical to the enforcement bill Rep. Heath Shuler, North Carolina Democrat, introduced last week with strong bipartisan support. Taken together, the bills challenge the notion that the debate is a partisan fight in which Republicans want stricter enforcement while Democrats only want a broad bill that includes a path to citizenship for illegal aliens.
"Border patrol is the first step. Expanding the employee-verification program is the second. And beefing up interior enforcement is the third," Mr. Pryor, Arkansas Democrat, said in introducing the Senate bill.
The bill would boost the U.S. Border Patrol to more than 22,000 agents, but also would pay off college loans to help recruitment and retention and make sure the Border Patrol can fill those slots. The bill also requires businesses to use E-Verify, the federal database to check work eligibility.
Mr. Pryor voted against President Bush's broad immigration proposal earlier this year, helping kill the bill in the Senate. That bill would have granted illegal aliens a path to citizenship, allowed in millions of new foreign workers and redrawn the legal immigration system to favor needed skills.
Mr. Pryor said yesterday his goal is to convince Americans that the government can enforce the laws already on the books and secure the borders. …