Hillary on HR 4437: "this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself"
After months of skirting the issue of immigration reform, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) yesterday spoke at a news conference in Manhattan flanked by a multicultural group of 30 immigrant leaders. Clinton, who had been criticized by immigrant activists for remaining silent on the issue until her remarks before an Irish rally on March 8th , vowed to oppose a bill passed in December by the House (HR 4437) that would make unlawful presence in the United States - currently a civil offense - a felony. The Senate is set to consider a version of that legislation put forward by Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), as well as several other bills seeking to address the issue of immigration reform
Clinton did not specifically endorse any competing legislation, including a bill co-authored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and another by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), saying she hoped the Senate Judiciary Committee would produce a compromise incorporating the best elements of all the bills and would remove the harsh penalties contained in the House measure
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tags: immigration, HR4437, Clinton, Frist, S.2454, Sensenbrenner
"It is hard to believe that a Republican leadership that is constantly talking about values and about faith would put forth such a mean-spirited piece of legislation," she said of the measure, which was passed by the House of Representatives in December and mirrored a companion Senate bill introduced last week by Senator Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican and the majority leader.
"It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scripture because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself," she said. "We need to sound the alarm about what is being done in the Congress."
Mr. Frist's bill, like the House measure, would make it a crime to be in the United States without proper papers and would add guards and fencing along the Mexican border, and speed deportation.
Some versions, including one proposed by Senator Arlen Spector of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, would expand the definition of alien smuggling to include help to illegal immigrants already here.
Mr. Frist has set a Monday deadline for the Senate Judiciary Committee to complete its own, broader version of immigration legislation, which could include "a path to earned citizenship" for illegal residents who qualify, and a guest worker program for foreigners, as well as new enforcement provisions. But even if a committee bill emerges in time, unless a majority of the committee's Republicans vote for it, he has vowed that he will not let it reach the Senate floor. Instead, Mr. Frist, who is also considered a 2008 presidential contender, said he would seek a vote on his bill, without debate.
Mrs. Clinton said she and New York's other senator, Charles E. Schumer, were trying to build momentum toward a bipartisan bill that would include a legalization provision that many Republicans would support in defiance of Mr. Frist. But any form of legalization is anathema to supporters of the House measure, co-sponsored by two Republican representatives, Peter King of Long Island, and F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.
Mrs. Clinton said, "We want the outcome to be that they're on the wrong side of politics as well as on the wrong side of history and American values."
New York Times