Good news: Pro-, anti-amnesty Republicans determined to pass bill; Update: Kyl under siege from constituents

Goldarnit, there’s a compromise to be had here. Why, just imagine what concessions our side might extract. More fencing? Harsher penalties on employers? Cooperation from Mexico in policing their side of the border?

Even better, my friends: retention of the meaningless, purely symbolic touchback requirement!

The compromise, backed by President Bush, won support from conservative Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) but was criticized by another GOP conservative from a border state, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas…

Hutchison said Republican opponents’ primary objection was what she described as an “amnesty portion” that would grant legal status to illegal immigrants who had arrived in the U.S. before Jan. 1, 2007, and who paid $5,000 over the next eight years for a temporary “Z visa.”

Immigrants with the visas would be required to return to their home countries — “touch back,” in immigration parlance — only if they wanted to apply for green cards, which signify legal permanent residence.

Hutchison said she and other opponents wanted illegal immigrants to touch back before they were granted the visas.

“That is what is causing the amnesty outcry — that you can stay here, you will never have to go home, as long as you don’t want the permanent green card,” she said.

Specter said he was “prepared to negotiate” that provision, and he called Hutchison’s concession that the legislation was necessary “a breakthrough.”

Two-part exit question: Is there even a single opponent of this bill among our readers who (a) doesn’t think the border enforcement provisions are at least as important as the amnesty provisions and (b) gives a squat about the touchback requirement?

Update: To think — if Kyl was up for reelection this year instead of last, the bill might never have happened.

Angry calls poured into Senator Jon Kyl’s office this week by the thousands, expressing outrage beyond anything he said he had witnessed in his 20-year political career. The callers were inflamed by Mr. Kyl’s role in shaping the bipartisan immigration compromise announced May 17, which lawmakers continue to debate.

“Yes, I have learned some new words from some of my constituents,” Mr. Kyl, an Arizona Republican, said at a news conference on Thursday, drawing titters from those in the room…

The day after the proposal was announced, the eight phone lines at the [state Republican] party headquarters were so jammed that staff members almost decided to close the office.

“Every single line was literally off the hook most of the day,” said Sean McCaffrey, the state party’s executive director. “None of these were happy calls. Truly, from our headquarters to the 15 county parties, the ratio was 100 to zero. Not a single county chairman, not a single legislative district chairman reported having a single call from a grass-roots individual saying, ‘Please pass this immigration bill.’ ”

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