“[A] myth is that House Republicans want to make illegal presence in the USA a felony. The truth is Democrats voted for the felony provision, and a majority of Republicans (including me) voted against it. Right now, illegal presence in the USA is not a crime; it is a civil infraction.
The House Judiciary Committee voted to make it a felony but then was counseled that millions of new felons could clog our courts. Chairman James Sensenbrenner, (R-WI), wrote an amendment to his own bill [H.R. 4437] asking that the penalty be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor; 191 Democrats and a few Republicans voted to keep the felony penalty in the hope that it would be a poison pill to defeat the measure.”Mar. 29, 2006