Leader Blues

Thursday, July 27, 2006

TOP STORY>>Berry is seen soft on aliens

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, the Republican candidate for Con-gress in the First District, Friday attacked his opponent, Rep. Marion Berry (D-Gillett), for a resolution he sponsored asking Congress to ap-propriate money for the border-security initiative, saying the action was a desperate attempt to make voters think he really cares about the illegal immigration problem.

Berry’s camp responded that he has always said securing the borders has to be the first step in controlling the influx of illegal aliens and that he always votes for legislation that proposes to do that.

In a press release about Berry’s House resolution, Stumbaugh said Berry has “supported amnesty at least six different times and has a career F rating with the nation’s top immigration-reform groups.”

Only after it was rumored that Stumbaugh would enter the race for Congress did Berry change the direction of his voting and begin to address the immigration problem, the mayor said.

“Marion Berry has said immigration is ‘the biggest political issue to come across in my lifetime, including Social Security,’ yet he has a record to show that he thinks otherwise,” Stumbaugh said. “My opponent has once again shown that he will tell the people what they want to hear, proving yet again that he does not have the truth in him. 

“While I applaud the effort to increase funding and provide more border patrol, I still wonder why it has taken 10 years in Congress and nearly four years in the Clinton administration for him to figure out we have a problem with illegal immigrants.” 

“Unlike anything Marion Berry will do, I have pledged, and I am committed, to working towards a bipartisan effort to securing our borders and ports, cleaning up our federal documents, and providing better interior enforcement.”

Gabe Holmstrom, Berry’s campaign manager, responded to Stumbaugh saying, “Congressman Berry’s position on immigration is clear. He has consistently stated that securing the border has to be the first step in any pursuit of immigration reform. 

“He supports immigration legislation that secures our borders and protects American workers and is opposed to amnesty.”
Holmstrom said, “Congress-man Berry voted for the toughest border security and enforcement bill this session, H.R. 4437, which passed last December” and included the following provisions:

- Makes illegal presence in the country a felony, punishable by a year and a day in jail.

- Raises fines for an employer who hires illegal immigrants from $5,000 to $25,000.

- Hires 2000 more Border Patrol agents each year for the next four years.

- Increases the use of technology for border surveillance.

- Constructs a fence along the southern border.

“Congressman Berry has voted 15 times to improve border-security funding,” Holmstrom said.  Had Republicans not defeated these amendments, our country would now have over 6,600 more border patrol agents, 14,000 more detention beds and 2,700 more immigration and customs agents,” Holmstrom said.

Stumbaugh’s press release cited these examples of Berry’s voting on amnesty:

- Berry recently voted against an amendment to the 2007 Homeland Security appropriations bill by Rep. Tom Tancredo which would have kept funds from being used to give extensions of the temporary protection status.

- Berry co-sponsored H.R. 3142, which would grant amnesty to illegal immigrants working in agriculture.

- He voted for H.R. 365 that allowed illegals to pay a $1,000 fine to get their green cards with- out fear of being deported.

- He voted for an extension of a law that allowed illegal immigrants to pay a fee and avoid a 1996 law that would bar them from coming to the U.S. for 10 years on a legal visa.

- He joined 151 House Demo-crats who signed a letter in support of amnesty to President saying he would sustain a veto on an end-of- session appropriations bill if it did not include amnesty for 3.4 million aliens.

Regardless of how Berry is voting now, his record speaks for itself, Stumbaugh said in a phone interview Friday evening.

“He knows he has a contender now,” Stumbaugh said. “If he didn’t have an opponent, he would still be voting the same way he did.”