[JURIST] Two Republican members of the US Congress announced a proposal [summary, DOC] Tuesday to bridge the gap between the Senate and House versions of immigration reform legislation [JURIST news archive]. The plan devised by US Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) [official website] and US Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) incorporates elements of the Senate and House bills by implementing a temporary worker program suggested by President Bush and endorsed by the Senate only after border security measures favored by the House are in place. Speaking at a news conference Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Pence said [text]:
I believe Hutchison-Pence is a plan where justice and mercy meet. America is based on the rule of law, and that rule must be enforced. But, the history of our country is also grounded in immigration and in the belief that we treat others, even those who are aliens, with care and compassion. This sentiment is essentially an expression of a moral principal. The ancient words from the Bible, "Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him for you were aliens in Egypt," reflect the sentiment of millions of Americans who share this compassionate view of the illegal immigrants in our midst. But, this must be done without amnesty in order to maintain the rule of law.Pence said conservative lawmakers could support the plan because it does not grant "amnesty" to illegal immigrants, who would have to return to their home countries before applying for a two-year visa, renewable for a total of 12 years. After the 12 years, those immigrants could apply for another five-year visa and then for permanent resident status.
Although President Bush has urged Congress to forge a compromise on immigration [JURIST report], passage of a bill before November's mid-term elections is viewed as unlikely, partly because of a series of nationwide hearings scheduled by House leaders [JURIST report]. The Senate bill [S 2611 summary], passed in May [JURIST report], would set millions of illegal immigrants on a path to potential citizenship and would authorize a temporary worker program, while the more restrictive House version [HR 4437 summary], passed last year [JURIST report], makes unlawful presence in the US a felony subject to deportation and could punish humanitarian groups aiding illegals. Reuters has more. The Washington Post has additional coverage.