GOP leaders float immigration reform bill revisions

[JURIST] In a joint statement issued late Tuesday, US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) [official website] and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) [official website] said they would reexamine two provisions of a contentious immigration bill passed by the House of Representatives [JURIST report] last year "to produce a strong border security bill that will not make unlawful presence in the United States a felony." Besides the provision that would turn millions of illegal immigrants into felons, aid groups and religious organizations have expressed concern about a provision that could punish them for providing humanitarian relief to immigrants. Republicans have said they are prepared to amend language to eliminate concerns about blocking humanitarian assistance and that the language was inserted to stop human traffickers. The House passed the border security bill [HR 4437 summary] late last year, but the Senate version of the legislation, S 2454 [summary], which dropped [JURIST report] the felony provisions, stalled [JURIST report] last week after a compromise agreement [PDF summary] fell through.

The decision to reexamine the provisions comes after large numbers of immigrants and supporters assembled in cities across the US [JURIST report] Monday for a National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice [advocacy website], urging lawmakers to make it easier for the nation's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants to live in the country legally. Reuters has more.

 

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