Key provisions of the immigration bill were altered yesterday as the Senate passed a raft of amendments designed to make the bill more palatable to critics from both political parties. Provisions to beef up security at the border were strengthened, while the guest worker program offering two-year visas to 400,000 temporary workers a year was cut in half.
A GOP amendment stiffened penalties for illegal entry, mandating jail time for border-crossers convicted of a previous crime. Democrats fought for changes, not yet voted on, in the point system that emphasizes merit over family ties in handing out visas. Members of the bipartisan coalition argued that too many changes could destroy the bill's chances of passing.