CHN: Senate Resumes Immigration Debate In 110th Congress

On February 28, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) presided over his first immigration hearing as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Witnesses were members of the President’s Cabinet, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.  During the hearing, Sen. Leahy and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee inquired about the President’s commitment to reform the country’s broken immigration system and tried to ascertain what type of reform the President would be willing to support.
In his opening remarks, Secretary Gutierrez stated that the Administration believes a solution can be found with some hard work and that it promises to roll up its sleeves to work to find a solution.  He also stated that national security, economic growth and American unity are the Administration’s main goals as it considers immigration reform.  When pressed about the President’s support for creating a path to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the country neither Cabinet member was willing to give a clear indication of the Administration’s stance.  This issue will certainly continue to be a sticking point in the immigration debate.

Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and McCain (R-AZ) introduced bipartisan legislation in the last Congress combining border security and worksite enforcement with a guest worker program and a three-tiered path to citizenship.  They are expected to introduce new legislation later this month.  Indications are that their bill will include a path to citizenship but may drop the three-tiered structure.