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Rep. Campbell spearheads immigration agenda

September 15, 2006|By Ana Facio Contreras

Border security proposals announced by U.S. House Republican leaders Thursday are not everything Newport Beach Rep. John Campbell wanted, but he thinks they will make a substantial difference in combating illegal immigration.

Republican leaders announced their "Border Security Now" agenda in place of a more comprehensive immigration-reform bill. The agenda consists of 10 border-security proposals that House Republicans want to pass before the end of the month.

"If we can get this through the Senate and signed by the president, it will make a dramatic difference in the illegal alien problem," Campbell said Thursday.

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The initiatives are the result of nationwide hearings held in August on the matter.

"And feedback from members like me," added Campbell, co-sponsor of the Secure Fence Act, the first item on the border agenda passed Thursday by the House of Representatives. The fence act, part of the 10 proposals, includes a 700-mile border fence and improved surveillance along the southwestern U.S.-Mexico border.

Three of the proposals on the agenda complement Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor's plan to train police to enforce immigration laws in the city. One reaffirms the authority of state and local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws. Another — the Alien Gang Removal Act — prohibits illegal immigrant gang members from entering the country, and deports the ones already in the country. And lastly, the Criminal Alien Removal Act would speed up the deportation process of illegal immigrant criminals.

Mansoor said he supports those three proposals.

"I fully support upholding our federal immigration laws," he said regarding the agenda.

Among other proposals included in the House Republican agenda are funding for more border patrol agents; an increase in prosecution of illegal immigrant smugglers; the creation of criminal penalties of up to 20 years in prison for constructing underground tunnels at the border used to smuggle people, terrorists and other illegal contraband; and the detention of dangerous illegal immigrants.

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