From The Morning Grind
The debate over how to address illegal immigration moves from Capitol Hill to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and San Diego, California Wednesday as Congress holds field hearings on the issue. In Philadelphia, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) hold a 10 a.m. ET hearing, while two hours later on the West Coast, House International Terrorism and Nonproliferation Subcommittee Chairman Ed Royce (R-California) holds a similar hearing.
The House and Senate remain deadlocked over how to address the illegal immigration issue, which has moved beyond the traditional Republican versus Democrat political fight. A majority of the Senate endorses President Bush's immigration plan that includes a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, while a majority of the House opposes it.
And the debate over illegal immigration is no longer a policy discussion. It is a political issue. The Minuteman Project, a group that endorses strict immigration laws, has erected a billboard in Arizona criticizing Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) for supporting the Bush plan. And the President has found an unlikely ally in Democrats who are chastising House Republicans for not supporting Bush's proposal. A House Democratic aide tells the Grind that they "will not miss an opportunity to highlight Republicans' wrong direction on border security and comprehensive immigration reform" at this hearing and another scheduled later this week in Laredo, Texas. The Democratic National Committee is also launching a radio campaign on Spanish language stations featuring Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) that "calls on Republicans in Washington to stop scapegoating immigrants for political gain and join Congressional Democrats in fighting for comprehensive immigration reform." The ad coincides with the House hearings and will run in markets in California and Texas.
In a letter to the editor published Monday in The Wall Street Journal, House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wisconsin) pledged to work with the White House and Democrats to try and pass immigration reform legislation, but added that House Republicans will not bend on what they describe as amnesty for illegal immigrants.
"House Republicans will ... not support any bill that includes amnesty, weak border enforcement, weak interior enforcement, weak work site enforcement, or other provisions that the public doesn't support," he wrote. "In November, voters will judge members of Congress based upon whether they lead with an understanding of voters' concerns, as House Republicans are committed to doing, or whether they ignore voters by enacting legislation, such as the Senate amnesty bill, that the public doesn't support."