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Panel Supports Splitting Up Alien Families

December 18, 1987|KAREN TUMULTY and OSWALD JOHNSTON | Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — House and Senate negotiators, working toward ironing out their differences over a $600-billion spending bill, voted Thursday to allow the government to force spouses and children of aliens with newly legal status to leave the country.

The voice vote was taken as the lawmakers raced to complete the massive spending legislation and a related bill that together bring tax and spending policies in line with a deficit-reduction agreement between President Reagan and congressional leaders.

Late Thursday night negotiators agreed on a plan to raise taxes by $23 billion over the next two years.

The bills are the only unfinished business standing in the way of adjournment for the year, but each bill contains dozens of unresolved issues.

The spending bill negotiators rejected a House-passed ban on deporting ineligible relatives of aliens whose status was legalized by the immigration law enacted last year, despite warnings by Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Los Angeles) that this will discourage aliens from applying for legalization.

"If you don't have family unification, the immigration (law) won't work," Roybal said.

However, Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.) argued that the provision would unfairly give the newly legal aliens, most of whom come from Latin America, a benefit not enjoyed by aliens who legally entered this country. Some of those immigrants must wait more than a decade before receiving permission for their relatives to join them, Simpson said.

The immigration law seeks to stem the flow of illegal aliens across U.S. borders by imposing fines on employers who hire them. But it also establishes a procedure under which those who can prove that they have resided in this country since Jan. 1, 1982, can apply to become legal residents and eventually citizens.

Knows of No Deportations

An aide to Roybal said that he knows of no cases in which relatives of newly legal aliens have been deported. However, the aide said, some have been pressured to leave the country voluntarily so they can retain the right to apply to enter legally--a procedure that could take well into the 1990s.

The House attached the provision to spending legislation that pares a total of $7.6 billion from the projected budgets of most federal agencies to conform with a deficit-reduction agreement reached last month by the White House and leaders of Congress.

A separate group of lawmakers negotiated into the night on the second part of the deficit-reduction agreement: legislation raising taxes by $9 billion in 1988, cutting $4 billion from federal benefit programs such as Medicare and taking a number of other savings measures.

Late Thursday, Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, fearful that the whole budget package was in danger of bogging down because of House-Senate differences over taxes and Medicare cost reductions, holed up in Rostenkowski's Capitol office to attempt to hammer out an agreement that other conferees could accept.

Emerge With Agreement

They emerged about six hours later to announce an agreement between themselves on a tax plan and said they were presenting it to their negotiating teams.

The agreement then was accepted by negotiators from both houses--by an 8-1 vote in the House, with Bill Archer (R-Tex.) dissenting, and without dissent in the Senate.

"We have taken a major step implementing the budget summit agreement between President Reagan and congressional leaders," Rostenkowski said. "I expect the Administration, which was a party to that agreement, to fully support our efforts."

Bentsen called the tax package "a good agreement and a fair one."

The measure would extend the 3% telephone tax for three years, limit deductible home mortgages to $1 million, which could include up to $100,000 in loans for a boat or mobile home used as a second home, and restrict deductible home-equity loans to $100,000.

Corporations would pay most of the tax increase. The agreement reduces but does not eliminate a special accounting benefit for defense contractors, cracks down on a break for manufacturers that sell on the installment plan and requires corporations to accelerate their tax payments to the government.

$76-Billion Reduction

All told, the overall agreement would reduce this fiscal year's projected $180-billion deficit by about $30 billion, which still could leave a deficit larger than the $148 billion recorded for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Over two years, the plan would cut the projected deficit by $76 billion.

Among the many issues still unresolved by the House and Senate teams are whether to continue nonlethal aid to Nicaragua's Contras and whether to write into law the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which--before it was revoked earlier this year by the Reagan Administration--required broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints on issues.

However, the negotiators did agree on many other points, including:

--Giving cities, including Los Angeles, an eight-month reprieve on meeting federal guidelines for cleaning their air of pollutants. Both houses had approved variations of the extension.

--Providing $700 million toward developing the controversial Midgetman mobile missile. The figure is about halfway between the amounts approved by the House and Senate.

--Selling Stinger missiles to Bahrain, despite a ban on such sales to other Middle Eastern countries.

--Allowing $480 million in military and economic aid to be provided to Pakistan, despite reports that it has diverted nuclear materials from research to weapons.

--Cutting farm subsidies by $2.5 billion over two years.

"I have every reason to believe and hope we're going to finish by Saturday night," said Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.), who with leaders of both parties wrote a letter urging the bargainers to work faster.

The latest in a series of stopgap bills extending the government's operations expires at midnight today.

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