Nelson on Immigration by Mitch E. Perry

06/23/06

US News & World Report is reporting that the announcement from House Republicans earlier this week that there will be public hearings around the nation this summer on immigration reform had its roots in GOP fears over the midterm elections.

The hearings are expected to delay negotiations on reconciling the enforcement-only House immigration bill with the Senate version that has rankled many conservatives because it includes provisions for millions of illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.

But the magazine reports now many Republicans are nervous that the hearings by threatening to stymie Congress in passing any immigration reform, will backfire.

Democrats hope the immigration debate will now shift from whether they support "amnesty" for illegal immigrants to focus instead on what they expect will be a failure among Republicans to pass any immigration reform.

The magazine reports that a Republican strategist close to the House says the hearings gambit was born largely of meetings between Tom Reynolds, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and dozens of Republican congressmen locked in competitive races this fall. Over a series of monthly meetings, the vulnerable members told Reynolds that they "could not swallow" the immigration bill that had passed the Senate because anything less than the House's enforcement-only measure "would be considered weakness."

The House immigration bill, passed by Republicans last December, calls for stepped-up law enforcement and border security to crack down on illegal immigration. The Senate bill, which passed earlier this year largely on the backs of Democrats, provides a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants.

WMNF asked Florida Senator Bill Nelson what he makes of the House to conduct hearings across the country, in lieu of trying to reconcile the House bill with the Senate Bill (roll tape#1 o.q.� that the President will sign�)

The House hearings are scheduled to take place in San Diego, Arizona, and Laredo, Texas, and will begin on July 5th.

Meanwhile, the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, determined to help inform the public about public opinion on the immigration, citing a new Tarrange Group Poll showing that 75 percent of GOP voters FAVOR a comprehensive approach, including heightened border security as well as a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already. in the U.S.

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