Immigrant issue spurs division in Assembly

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SACRAMENTO – As several hundred immigrants rallied on the west steps of the Capitol, the Assembly on Monday voted for a resolution calling on President George W. Bush and Congress to reject extreme immigration laws. The party-line vote was symbolic, but the debate showcased the ideological emotions that have divided lawmakers in California and Washington, D.C. On one side, Democrats led by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez of Los Angeles said Congress should give an estimated 12 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally a path to citizenship. But Republicans insisted that immigrants who have crossed the border illegally should not be rewarded for breaking American laws. The Assembly passed the resolution 42-26. Republicans lined up against the measure, complaining that Democrats had polarized the debate by describing a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives as “mean-spirited, shortsighted and anti-immigrant.” In December the House passed a bill that would make it a felony to be in the country illegally, criminalize people who help illegal immigrants and build a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate is considering a measure that more closely adheres to a proposal by President Bush. It calls for stronger enforcement, a new guest worker program and an eventual chance at citizenship for most immigrants in the country illegally. Seeking to add their voice to the national debate, the Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution asking Congress to stand up to “the extremists’ voices” that drove the immigration debate in the House. Assembly Republicans tried to weaken the resolution but came up short on the votes. “Using language like this I think is inflammatory,” said Assemblyman Rick Keene, R-Chico. Assemblyman Mark Wyland, R-Vista, said the federal government should reimburse California for the $10.5 billion a year that it cost the state to care for illegal immigrants. “The immigration debate I think is about following the rules,” said Assemblyman Chuck Devore, R-Irvine. “While we all celebrate immigrants and understand many people would like to come to the United States, we ought to follow the rules.”last_img read more