GOP Senator: Immigration Bill's Fate Hangs in the Balance

WASHINGTON – The controversial immigration bill proposing to legalize millions of illegal immigrants has revived but its fate on the senate floor is unpredictable, said the top Republican senator Sunday.

"It's a mixed picture," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on CBS' Face the Nation. "There are good things in the bill, and not-so-good things in the bill."

McConnell said the vote is too close to call, according to The Associated Press.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and McConnell pledged to revive the bill days after President Bush made a personal lobbying visit to a Republican luncheon on Capitol Hill – his first since 2001. Bush had made an emotional appeal to Republicans on the importance of the issue and his commitment to secure the border – a top concern for Republicans.

The bill has not only sparked emotionally-charged debates in the Capitol, but also in churches. Last month, churches in five big U.S. cities – Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, and New York – launched the immigrant sanctuary movement to use church buildings to protect illegal immigrants from deportation.

"We want to put a human face to very complex immigration laws and awaken the consciousness of human spirit," said Fr. Richard Estrada of Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Los Angeles at the launch event in May, according to AP.

In addition, the Washington representative of the Southern Baptist Convention – the nation's largest protestant denomination with over 16 million members – has also voiced his support of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

"One of the great tragedies of our immigration crisis is that these people have come here illegally. But the difference is that they have come here illegally to work," said Dr. Richard Land, president of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in March.

"These people have come here to work and to become part of the American dream and they are far too often exploited by unscrupulous individual employers and that is not going to end until we have comprehensive immigration reform," Land emphasized.

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference calls for a bill that would respect the rule of law yet provide a "moral" and "biblical" response to the immigration crisis.

Other prominent evangelical leaders who support comprehensive immigration reforms include Joel Osteen and Jack Hayford, according to Rodriguez.

Yet other Christians are particularly opposed to the current Senate bill including the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel, which criticizes the bill as offering amnesty to lawbreakers.

"The proposed immigration bill is fatally flawed," read a Liberty Counsel alert on Friday. "It is being pushed as the best solution by most of the Democrats in Congress, a few of the Republicans and President Bush, who is diligently trying to persuade America to hop aboard the amnesty train.
"Amnesty has been tried and has not worked," the group stated.

The immigration reform bill composed by a bipartisan group of senators and the White House would provide a path for some 12 million illegal immigrants in the country to become citizens, increase border security, and impose stricter surveillance and laws against employers hiring illegal immigrants.

Lawmakers expect to vote on the contentious bill before they begin their Fourth of July Vacation.