Opposing immigration bills
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Monday an immigration bill that differs markedly from one passed by the House this past December. Here are key points:
• Judiciary - Illegal immigrants in the US before 2004 may work legally for six years if they pay a $1,000 fine and have no criminal record. They become eligible for permanent residence upon paying another $1,000 fine and any back taxes and learning English.
• House - Makes illegal presence in the US a felony. Requires detention of all non-Mexican illegal immigrants arrested when entering the US and mandatory sentences for those smuggling them in.
• Judiciary - Creates a pilot guest-worker program for some 1.5 million farm workers. New immigrants may obtain temporary work visas. Both groups can earn permanent residence.
• House - Does not include a guest-worker program. Requires all employers to use a database to verify Social Security numbers of employees within six years or face civil or criminal penalties.
• Judiciary - More than doubles the number of Border Patrol agents by 2011. Authorizes a "virtual wall" of unmanned vehicles, cameras, and sensors to monitor the US-Mexico border.
• House - Requires building two-layer fences along 700 miles of the 2,000-mile border between Mexico and the US.