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Senators warned on 'voting scared'
By Audrey Hudson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES (04-20-06)
A key House member yesterday warned the Senate that they must not be intimidated by rallies in 60 cities this week against immigration reform legislation pending in Congress.
Republican Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, says that he expects "several thousand people" will protest his district offices in New York but that "you can't allow that to intimidate you."
"The Senate, I think, was quite frankly intimidated by having hundreds of thousands of people in the streets waving flags, but I don't think we should pass legislation or devise legislation based on how many people you can get out into the street," the New York Republican told "Fox News Sunday."
Although Congress is in adjournment for the two-week Easter recess, protesters will rally in Washington and will be joined by students from Montgomery County schools, who will get extra credit for the effort, as part of the 60 hours of "student service learning hours" that students must do through volunteer work or activism on social issues.
"Frankly, if the Ku Klux Klan was having a rally downtown, would the school system allow that" to be used as credit? one parent asked WTOP radio (103.5 FM). "That's a political event. I would hope not."
Hundreds of thousands of protesters waved Mexican and Salvadoran flags during the last round of rallies to protest any crackdown on illegal aliens, but some say the foreign flags created a backlash against the protests' intended message that illegal aliens want to become U.S. citizens.
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, told "Meet the Press" that the flag symbolism "doesn't help in this debate" and that he has made televised pleas to leave the Mexican flag and other national flags at home and instead embrace the American flag.
"Make sure that you do not give up your essential message, which is that you're proud to be here in this country and that you embrace that flag," Mr. Gutierrez advised.
Rep. Henry Bonilla, Texas Republican and the grandson of a Mexican migrant worker, said the foreign flags were an insult to many Americans.
"I think when you come here and wave a Mexican flag in our face in a country that's giving a lot of these people an opportunity that they've never had before, I think a lot of Americans are insulted, whether they're first-, second-, third-, fourth- or fifth-generation Americans," Mr. Bonilla said on "Meet the Press."
"If I went to Mexico and wanted to demonstrate and wave the American flag, you'd be arrested and they'd throw the key away and ... you'd never be heard from again.
"A lot of these countries from which these people come are fleeing oppressive governments that have never given them an opportunity. I get so sick and tired on occasion from hearing from Mexican officials who talk about how illegals are treated in this country when in fact, they don't do anything to lift a finger to improve economic conditions for people when they're in their country," Mr. Bonilla said.
A House measure focusing on border security has already passed that chamber, but its companion bill in the Senate that focuses on the guest-worker plan was crippled Friday by both parties use of parliamentary procedures.
Republicans wanted to offer as many as 20 amendments to the Senate version, in a procedure called "filling the tree," which often is used to kill legislation by adding provisions unacceptable to bill's core supporters. Democrats instead used a cloture vote to send the bill back to committee.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, says he will pick up the pieces and give the legislation a second push despite the issue's political pitfalls.
"I think tempers will cool over a two-week period," said Mr. Specter, who predicts that a compromise will be reached.
"And there's a real risk of significant political fallout here, and members of the Senate think about that, believe it or not," said Mr. Specter also appearing on "Fox News Sunday."
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