(CNN) — The battle over illegal immigration promises to rage on until
Election Day and beyond. Emotions surrounding this contentious issue
are high, as evidenced in the massive pro- and anti-immigration rallies
held across the country this spring.
The House and Senate each passed vastly different versions of
immigration reform and now face the difficult task of reconciling these
differences. The Senate version included a guest-worker program for
illegal immigrants already in the United States, a provision backed by
President Bush but unpalatable to many conservatives. The House passed
a much tougher bill that made illegal immigrants subject to felony
prosecution and did not include any amnesty or guest-worker provisions.
Despite a hard push by President Bush and polls that indicate voters
want reform, a compromise looks unlikely before November.
The impact on candidates is still unclear. Rep. Chris Cannon
(R-Utah) survived a stiff primary challenge earlier this year in a
contest that focused on immigration and his position that not all
illegal immigrants should be deported. Republicans also won a special
election this year in California’s 50th Congressional District, where
candidates spoke extensively about voter anger over illegal
While not passing reform before November could hurt both sides
at the polls, Republicans and Democrats alike know that compromising on
controversial measures like a guest-worker program could hurt
candidates with their respective bases.
• Video: Border security initiatives
• California message: Immigration will be key theme
• December 16, 2005:
The House passes 239-182 a tough immigration bill that would make
unlawful presence in the country a felony, require that a fence be
built along part of the Mexican border, and require employers to verify
the legality of their employees. The bill does not include any amnesty
provisions favored by President Bush.
• May 25, 2006: The
Senate passes 62-36 a wide-ranging overhaul of immigration laws,
including strengthening security at the Mexican border and granting
many illegal immigrants a path toward citizenship. (38 Democrats, 23
Republicans, 1 independent vote yes; 32 Republicans, 4 Democrats vote
• March 1, 2003:
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service is moved into the
Department of Homeland Security and renamed the U.S. Citizenship and
• April 1, 2006: A private group
called The Minutemen sends thousands of volunteers to patrol the
U.S.-Mexico border for 30 days. President Bush has called the group
• May 15, 2006: President Bush announces that 6,000 National Guard members will be deployed to the Mexican border to assist the Border Patrol.
• Timeline: Immigration key dates