Is Immigration Reform in Trouble?

Immigration bill inspires heated debate on both sides of the aisle.

May 29, 2007 — -- Attempting to quell conservative criticism that the immigration reform bill he supports doesn't take border security seriously enough, President Bush heads today to a facility in Georgia where border patrol agents are trained.

The bill, which is supported by Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy as well, is also under attack from the left, putting the delicate compromise at risk.

The debate is getting so heated the compromise may be starting to unravel behind closed doors.

Last week in a private meeting, House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio called the legislation a piece of "s--."

"I think it's clear from what I said that I have serious concerns about the bill," Boehner said when asked about his assessment.

It has been a passionate debate. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a bill supporter, suspected Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican opponent of the bill, of trying to kill the compromise.

McCain also used profanity against Cornyn, suggesting that he perform an anatomically impossible act.

And the office voice mail of another bill supporter, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., is filled with similar language. "I have learned some new words from some of my constituents," Kyl said jokingly last week.

Something for Everyone to Hate

Conservatives say the bill needs more border security and is too easy on illegal immigrants in the United States. Liberals say that the guest worker program will drive down wages and that the bill lacks compassion.

"It gives too much credence to job skills rather than families," said presidential candidate and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The essence of all our immigration laws have been to preserve families, and this separates families," Richardson said.

At this point, the odds do not look good that the bill will make it through the Senate or the House.

"Everyone wants a compromise until you comprise and then they say, 'You've compromised and you've sacrificed your principles,'" conservative columnist George Will said.

But the White House will not let the deal blow up without a fight.

"People in the White House say they're not really interested in legacy, they're just interested in fundamental change, but give me a break," David Gergen, a former presidential adviser, said. "Everybody who's in there is interested in legacy, and yes, they do see the immigration bill as perhaps their major domestic accomplishment of the second term."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the fact that there's something in this bill for everyone to hate indicates that it's fair, but that also may make the bill impossible to pass. Congress will return to debating this contentious issue in less than a week.

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