President Bush is set to announce a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws that would give legal status to millions of undocumented workers who have jobs in the country. The proposal is expected to face harsh opposition in Congress from fellow Republicans who say the law would give amnesty to people who have broken the law by entering the country illegally. Bush’s plan was calibrated by his chief advisor Karl Rove. It is seen as an attempt by the Bush administration to reach out to Latino voters. Half of the roughly 8 million undocumented workers in the United States are Mexican. The proposal comes less than a week before Bush goes to Mexico to meet President Vicente Fox, who has advocated such changes.
In Houston, a three-judge federal panel, has backed a new Republican-drawn congressional district map for Texas that is expected to shift six or seven House seats currently held by Democrats to the GOP. The ruling is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court in part because the new map carves up many African-American and Latino districts. Congressional Black Caucus member John Conyers said “Once again minority voters have been forced to pay the price in the Republican party’s drive to manipulate the election process. Just like in south Florida, African-Americans and Latinos have been disenfranchised as part of a strategy to steal a Republican victory.”
In Iraq, the U.S. is preparing to release 500 Iraqi prisoners in what Paul Bremer said what a gesture aimed at reconciliation. The BBC reports the U.S. is holding 10,000 prisoners in Iraq.
An official with the Army Corps of Engineers overseeing fuel contracts in Iraq is defending Halliburton’s pricing of fuel in Iraq. This comes a month after a Pentagon audit determined the oil service company had overcharged the government $60 million. The official said yesterday Halliburton has “continued to negotiate the best price possible.” In other Iraq reconstruction news, Bechtel was awarded a $1.8 billion contract to repair Iraq’s infrastructure including the country’s electricity grid, roads and ports.
8 Children Among 17 Killed in Afghan Blast
In Afghanistan, the death toll has risen to 17 people in Tuesday’s double bombing in Kandahar. Eight of the dead were children. Dozens were also injured in the blast. The bombing came one day after the country adopted a new Constitution. Kandahar’s governor blamed the Taliban for the explosion.
On Tuesday Syrian President Bashar Assad became the first Syrian head of state to visit Turkey. The two countries called on the U.S. to oppose the creation of an autonomous Kurdish state in northern Iraq. Both Syria and Turkey have sizable Kurdish minorities population. In other Syrian news, President Assad has said he will not get rid of any weapons of mass destruction his country may possess until Israel does the same.
State Dep’t plans conference on Israeli attack on U.S. ship The State Department has announced it will host a two-day conference starting on Monday to discuss the 1967 Israeli attack of the U.S. spy ship the USS Liberty. 34 American servicemen died in the attack. Israel has long maintained the attack was an accident but many former top US Naval officials say the US was purposely targeted. The attack came during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
A new national USA Today/CNN poll has found that Gen. Wesley Clark has made major gains on Democratic frontrunner Howard Dean over the past month. In New Hampshire, polls show that Clark is now tied with Senator John Kerry for second place behind Dean.
The City of New York has agreed to pay the family of Amadou Diallo $3 million to settle a lawsuit stemming from his 1999 police killing. Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea, died on Feb. 4, 1999 when four white New York police officers fired 41 shots. He was unarmed. He was standing in the vestibule of his Bronx apartment. Police opened fire when he reached his wallet. They claimed they had mistaken the wallet to be a gun. He was 22 years old. After a trial jury acquitted the officers, the family responded by filing a civil suit against the city for tens of millions of dollars.