"The economy is as good as it's ever going to get in your lifetime," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina. The estimated 12 million immigrants in the country have assimilated into the economy "and it's humming," he said."
"As the bill moved ahead, Mexico's president Vicente Fox spoke to legislators in Utah and farm workers, farm owners and business people in Washington state. Fox's message was that the U.S. and Mexico must fix immigration problems together."
Presidential aide Karl Rove hoped to make inroads with House members who consider the Senate legalization provision "amnesty." Asked as he departed the Capitol whether he had made progress, he replied, "Could be."
If the Senate or the president insist on "an amnesty-type path to citizenship, it's a nonstarter," said former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who is leaving Congress June 9. GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, has insisted that Bush's view and the Senate proposal amount to amnesty. But he left the door open to make a deal.
"Also Wednesday, the Senate voted 56-42 to set aside two-thirds of 50,000 visas granted annually by lottery, largely to immigrants in African countries, for people with advanced degrees. Senators also tacked on additional fees for illegal immigrants for the legalization program, raising total fees and fines to more than $3,200."