But while battle lines in Washington are being drawn over the immigration reform bill, polls show the American people are less alarmed. A CBS News/New York Times poll found that illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the U.S. for at least two years should have a chance to apply for legal status.
Sunday on Face The Nation, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said the bill supported by President Bush will essentially give amnesty to illegal immigrants while Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., said the bill finally offers a solution to the problem of illegal immigration.
King said the bill would allow all of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living the United States to become legal within 24 hours. King said the he did not want to deport the illegal aliens currently in the U.S., but he said that enforcing current immigration laws would be a better solution.
"Don't give amnesty to illegal immigrants. Go after the workplace. Go after the employers who are hiring illegal immigrants," King told Bob Schieffer. "That will result in voluntary deportation. And then we can come back in three or four years. If the border is secure, if illegal immigration has been stopped, and if we've gone after the workplaces, then we can address the remaining illegal immigrants who are here."
"On the substantive issue which Congressman King raises relative to amnesty, nothing could be further from the truth," Salazar said. "They're going to be here legally, but they're going to have a whole huge number of issues that are going to burden them during the eight year time frame that they're here."
Salazar said the bill making its way through Congress actually strengthens the borders with a doubling of border patrol officers and 370 miles of fencing. Most importantly, it deals with the problem of keeping track of 12 million undocumented workers, he said.
"How are you going to round up 12 million human beings, all of them with hearts and souls, most of them are hard-working people here in America, and ship them out?" Salazar said. "And essentially, those who are in Representative King's camp are people who don't want to find a solution to this very fundamental problem of the 21st century here in America."
Salazar said that he expects the reform bill to pass both the House and Senate and that the president will sign it into law.
"I think the president has worked in a true bipartisan spirit here," Salazar said. "He's rolled up his sleeves, and he's worked very, very hard on getting this thing through."
King said he plans on introducing his own bill in the coming weeks.
"This bill is worse than the current law," he said. "It sets the wrong precedent, it's the wrong thing to do."