Capitol Hill (AP) The Senate begins debate Monday on a wide-ranging immigration proposal that has drawn fire from both ends of the political spectrum.
Supporters say the overhaul measure is balanced, and warn against making changes that could upset that balance.
Several elements of the proposed package have come under fire, including letting millions of illegal immigrants stay in the U.S., and giving education and skills greater weight than family ties.
The bill would toughen border security and create strict work rules to prevent illegal immigrants from getting jobs. Illegal immigrants could seek a ``z visa'' and get on track toward permanent residency after paying fees and fines. Heads of households would have to return to their home countries first.
It's set off a sometimes fierce debate inside party lines.
Republican Senator John McCain exchanged some heated remarks last week with his GOP colleague, Senator John Cornyn of
The White House says the immigration bill is a ''very high priority'' for President Bush, and that the administration is looking for a ''thoughtful'' debate on an ''emotional issue.''
Senators who crafted the bill say they have agreed to oppose any amendment that would make major changes in their agreement.
The bill faces a key procedural vote later Monday.