Today's Lead Story: "Hispanic Unease" Due to Conservative Defeat of Amnesty

Thursday's lead story by Julia Preston marked the day after Independence Day by showing legal immigrants surging to gain U.S. citizenship, but spunthe trendin a negative direction, against the conservative grassrootswho defeated Bush's amnesty bill.

The deck of headlines read: "Sharp Rise Seen In Applications for Citizenship - A Sign of Hispanic Unease - Legal Immigrants Spurred by Drives, Fee Increase and Senate Debate."

"The number of legal immigrants seeking to become United States citizens is surging, officials say, prompted by imminent increases in fees to process naturalization applications, citizenship drives across the country and new feelings of insecurity among immigrants.

"The citizenship campaigns have tapped into the uneasiness that legal immigrants, especially Hispanics, say is a result of months of debate over an immigration bill that failed last week in the Senate. Although illegal immigrants were the center of attention in the debate, it prompted many legal immigrants who have put down roots here to seek the security of citizenship, as well as its voting power, immigrants' advocates said."

Preston, whose previous reporting has often been pro-illegal immigrant, slyly dealt the race card against conservatives for unfairly tarring Hispanic immigrants.

"Some legal immigrants, particularly Hispanics, have said they were unfairly tarred in the debate over the Senate bill, which failed in part because of vehement opposition from conservatives who said it offered blanket amnesty to illegal immigrants."

Conservative opposition to illegal immigration has often beentarred as "livid," "inflamed," or just plain "angry" by the Times.