Clinton supports efforts for open immigration reform in Senate
Thursday April 06, 2006
Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday he supports the more open immigration reforms being debated in the Senate, referring to a bill passed by the House as ``too punitive.''

* ``Most (illegal immigrants) are law-abiding people who pay taxes,'' Clinton told a packed theater at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles. ``We should just find a way to give them a path to citizenship.''

Late Wednesday, Senate Republicans unveiled revised legislation clearing the way for legal status and eventual citizenship for many of the millions living in the United States unlawfully.

In December, the House passed a bill to build more walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, make being in the country illegally a felony and make it a crime to help illegal immigrants.

Clinton, who spoke for about an hour as part of the Music Center Speaker Series, said proposals in the Senate were more realistic.

``We all know that as long as America remains a wealthy nation, many people from poorer countries are going to bust their guts to get here,'' Clinton said, adding he doesn't support the guest worker program advocated by President Bush.

Clinton said similar programs have been tried in Europe and have met with little success because many of the guest workers have not been integrated into society.

``It really does something to people if you make them permanent nonvoters,'' Clinton said.

The former president, who was upbeat and greeted by chants of **``four more years,'' also took preselected questions from the audience. A 14-year-old girl asked Clinton what he thought about massive student walkouts in Los Angeles and other cities over the immigration issue.

``I grew up in the '60s. I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't support the students,'' Clinton said. ``I'm proud of them. I think they did a lot of good.''

The former president did say he thought the students should be in school.

``But if they are going to do it and do it nonviolently, if they feel strongly about the issue, then it's a healthy thing to express their opinions,'' Clinton said.

He was scheduled to appear at a similar function Thursday evening.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

* yes very true!

** hahhaha he's such a ham!