Thursday, March 22, 2007

Flake, Gutierrez introduce amnesty bill into the House

Two Representatives today opened the amnesty in Congress for this year. The bill offered by Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) offers citizenship to illegal immigrants.

The bill also would creates a new worker program, stiffens worker verification procedures and overhauls the visa system to reduce waiting times for legal immigrants. It requires that tough border security and work-site enforcement standards are met before the amnesty can go forward. Illegal aliens would be required to leave the country and return legally to be considered for citizenship..

Senate efforts to craft such a bill have stalled in recent weeks, but the Bush administration has worked intensely to build GOP support.

Illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before June 1, 2006 would be eligible for amnesty under the Flake/Gutierrez bill. They would have to pay a $2,000 fine and back taxes, pass background and security checks, learn English and civics, and keep a clean record. The head of household would also have to leave and reenter the U.S. legally before becoming a legal perm.

The bill would increase penalties for crimes committed by immigrants, including human smuggling, gang activity, and visa and document fraud, and folds in the AgJobs bill, which would create a dedicated-worker program for the agricultural industry.

The bill would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state rates for college tuition and give those brought to the United States as youngsters a way to gain citizenship.

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