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Rep. attacks reform bill

Dana Rohrabacher says U.S. Senate proposal for immigration reform is 'a declaration of war on America's middle class.'

May 18, 2007|By Alicia Robinson

A federal immigration-reform bill announced Thursday is being touted as comprehensive and bipartisan, but it's likely to be panned by Newport-Mesa's congressmen.

While Newport Beach Rep. John Campbell reserved judgment until he sees the bill, Huntington Beach Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said it will "increase the overall flow of immigrants, both legal and illegal."

The bill's provisions won't be finalized until they're in print Monday, but a White House fact sheet listed these highlights:

  • Border security, including a fence and more Border Patrol agents, and tougher enforcement on employers will come before other provisions.

  • Temporary workers could come here for up to three terms of two years each, with at least a year outside the country between terms.

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  • Illegal immigrants who are here now could apply for the new "Z visa," with which they eventually could be eligible for a green card. They would be required to pay fines of up to $5,000, learn English, and wait until the backlog of people applying to immigrate legally is cleared.

  • English would be the official language of the U.S.

    Rohrabacher attacked the bill in no uncertain terms Thursday, calling it "a declaration of war on America's middle class."

    Allowing guest workers to come to the U.S. simply depresses wages for everyone and takes jobs away from Americans, and letting illegal immigrants apply for citizenship will encourage more illegal immigration, said Rohrabacher, a Republican.

    "The purpose is to legalize the status of millions who are here illegally, and it will draw millions more here illegally in the future," he said. "The president keeps saying that you have to have a comprehensive bill because the things that might be acceptable in the bill or even positive are aimed only at giving cover to the things that are horrible."

    Campbell, also a Republican, was more measured in his response but said he's not encouraged by what he's hearing about the bill.

    Rumors include provisions that require guest workers to receive prevailing wage and illegal immigrants to get in-state college tuition rates, Campbell said. "Obviously all that's a nonstarter with me," he said.

    Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor, who used enforcement of illegal-immigration laws as a campaign platform last fall, said he has learned not to expect tough enforcement out of the current administration.

    "This is going to encourage more illegal immigration," he said. "There's absolutely no teeth in what's being proposed in Washington, D.C."

    The bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate on Monday, where it will go through the meat grinder of committee hearings and floor debate. Rohrabacher said with Democrats in control of Congress and President Bush supporting the bill, it has a good chance of passing. But that could create a backlash from the American public, he said.

    "I think it will create a whole new dynamic force in America, and there will be a whole counter-reaction to this betrayal in the next election," Rohrabacher said.

  • QUESTION FOR THE READERS

    What do you think of the proposed immigration reform? Send comments to 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626 or e-mail dailypilot@latimes.com. Please spell your name and tell us your hometown and phone numbers for verification purposes only.

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