Senate to debate immigration reform next week

| 3/27/2006

The issues of guest-worker programs, illegal immigrants, security and enforcement are scheduled for debate in the U.S. Senate beginning Tuesday.

President Bush has called for the debate to be civil and to avoid hot buttons such as calling immigrants threats to national security, The Associated Press reported.

There are at least 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. according to statistics being used by senators on both sides of the aisle. The debate centers on how to handle things like temporary employment, deportation and border security.

The U.S. House approved an immigration bill last year that makes felons out of immigrants without documentation, and calls for a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Critics and activists are calling the bill unfair. Half a million people rallied on Saturday in Los Angeles, demanding changes to the bill.

The Senate is working on a separate bill that could be filed before the round of debates set to begin Tuesday, March 28.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, will open the debate floor with a measure to increase the number of immigrant visas and punish employers who hire illegal immigrants, ABC News reported.