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Thread: Bush Tells Congress to Tone Down Immigration Debate

  1. #1
    March 23 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush said he wants Congress to tone down the debate on immigration and pass legislation to let ``guest workers'' take jobs in the U.S.

    Bush said the issue, which has divided his Republican Party, must be addressed ``in a civil way'' that doesn't pit one group of people in the country against others.

    ``Our government must enforce our borders,'' the president said today after meeting with business and religious leaders at the White House. Bush said he continues to support changing the law to create ``a guest worker program that encourages people to register their presence.''

    Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado has been leading the Republican opposition to Bush's guest worker proposal, pushing instead for tougher enforcement on the U.S.-Mexican border and requiring companies to certify their employees are eligible to work. Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have lined up in favor of Bush's plan.

    More than 1.1 million people were caught trying to illegally cross the border in 2004, and an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants are now living in the U.S.

    Compromise on immigration has been elusive. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to resume debate next week on a temporary-worker program that would let workers remain in the U.S. for as many as six years before returning to their home countries. Representatives of restaurants, hotels and the agricultural industry prefer the approach of Democrat Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Arizona Republican John McCain, whose proposal wouldn't require temporary workers to return.

    Rival Measures

    Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, last week filed a rival measure that addresses only border security and enforcement, which he says he will bring to the Senate floor as early as next Tuesday. He indicated he might change course if the Judiciary panel agrees on a more comprehensive alternative.

    The House approved immigration legislation last year without a guest-worker program. The measure included plans to build 700 miles of 15-foot-high fencing along the border.

    Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, speaking in San Ysidro, California, yesterday, said immigration overhaul based only on enforcement isn't enough. ``Our economy needs immigrants and benefits from them,'' he said in a statement, suggesting a need for a guest worker program.

    Speaking in Cleveland on Monday, Bush said he's taking a tougher position on border security by changing the U.S. practice of ``catch and release.'' Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the U.S. in May will open a detention center to house families caught illegally crossing the border. The U.S. would also speed the deportation process by stepping up pressure on the illegal aliens' home countries to accept their return, he said.

    Typically, the government releases families into the U.S. with notices to appear in court. Most don't show up, said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Immigration may be on the agenda when Bush meets with President Vicente Fox of Mexico at the resort city of Cancun on March 30-31.



  2. #2
    March 23 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush said he wants Congress to tone down the debate on immigration and pass legislation to let ``guest workers'' take jobs in the U.S.

    Bush said the issue, which has divided his Republican Party, must be addressed ``in a civil way'' that doesn't pit one group of people in the country against others.

    ``Our government must enforce our borders,'' the president said today after meeting with business and religious leaders at the White House. Bush said he continues to support changing the law to create ``a guest worker program that encourages people to register their presence.''

    Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado has been leading the Republican opposition to Bush's guest worker proposal, pushing instead for tougher enforcement on the U.S.-Mexican border and requiring companies to certify their employees are eligible to work. Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have lined up in favor of Bush's plan.

    More than 1.1 million people were caught trying to illegally cross the border in 2004, and an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants are now living in the U.S.

    Compromise on immigration has been elusive. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to resume debate next week on a temporary-worker program that would let workers remain in the U.S. for as many as six years before returning to their home countries. Representatives of restaurants, hotels and the agricultural industry prefer the approach of Democrat Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Arizona Republican John McCain, whose proposal wouldn't require temporary workers to return.

    Rival Measures

    Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, last week filed a rival measure that addresses only border security and enforcement, which he says he will bring to the Senate floor as early as next Tuesday. He indicated he might change course if the Judiciary panel agrees on a more comprehensive alternative.

    The House approved immigration legislation last year without a guest-worker program. The measure included plans to build 700 miles of 15-foot-high fencing along the border.

    Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, speaking in San Ysidro, California, yesterday, said immigration overhaul based only on enforcement isn't enough. ``Our economy needs immigrants and benefits from them,'' he said in a statement, suggesting a need for a guest worker program.

    Speaking in Cleveland on Monday, Bush said he's taking a tougher position on border security by changing the U.S. practice of ``catch and release.'' Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the U.S. in May will open a detention center to house families caught illegally crossing the border. The U.S. would also speed the deportation process by stepping up pressure on the illegal aliens' home countries to accept their return, he said.

    Typically, the government releases families into the U.S. with notices to appear in court. Most don't show up, said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Immigration may be on the agenda when Bush meets with President Vicente Fox of Mexico at the resort city of Cancun on March 30-31.



  3. #3
    Given that this is a Congressional election year, and that President's ratings are at all time low, you can bet that some House Reps. will take an exceptional pleasure in distantiating themselves from the President and acting in defiance of what he asks for.

    This way they can look even "STRONGER"/"TOUGHER" among their constituents ( "Look!!! I didn't yield to President's pressure when I felt your needs to pass ENFORCEMENT ONLY Bill !!! I am such a strong House Rep. !!! I am sooo good and sooo strong and sooo tough !!! VOTE FOR ME !!!")

    _______________________

    I should have worked in Public Policy analyzing sector ! It's all way too easy and too predictable..

  4. #4
    "I am glad that President Bush is focusing on immigration as the Senate Judiciary Committee nears completion on its work on comprehensive reform. I agree with him in the need for reform that include a rational and compassionate program for immigrant workers. President Bush should back up his rhetoric by saying no to the immigration restrictionists in his party who want to close our borders and yes to the many Americans, business and labor community members, Democrats and Republicans, and religious leaders who want tough border security and an orderly immigration system that is consistent with our values.

    The draconian enforcement-only bill that Senator Frist has proposed and the bill that the House has passed would leave our broken immigration system still broken. We need realistic and comprehensive solutions that will protect our borders, enable temporary workers to come here legally, and allow workers already here to earn legal status. I'm hopeful that we can work with the President to enact a bill based on the principles of the McCain-Kennedy plan and reflects our heritage as both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws."

  5. #5
    McCain – Kennedy Secure America Act - Selected Titles of the Bill

    Under the McCain-Kennedy plan, undocumented immigrants who want to become citizens must show they've been working, pay a $2000 fine, work for another six years, pass security checks, pay taxes, learn English and American civics, get in line behind everyone else and then they'd be eligible to apply for a green card. Below are the provisions of the bill:

    Title I- Border Security: Establishes a National border Security Strategy based on "smart" border technology, information sharing, and cooperation. Encourages the development of multilateral partnerships with Canada, Mexico, and Central America to establish a North American security perimeter and improve border security.

    Title III- Temporary Worker Visa Program: Creates a new temporary visa to allow foreign workers to enter the US. Visa is valid for 3 years, and can be renewed one time for a total of 6 years. Contains strong labor protections for all workers, visas for family members, a path to permanent residence and citizenship and a flexible market-based cap.

    Title IV- Enforcement: Creates a new electronic work authorization system that will replace the paper-based, fraud-prone I-9 system. The Department of Labor will have new authority to conduct random audits of employers and ensure compliance with labor laws; also includes new worker protections and enhanced fines for illegal employment practices

    Title V- Promoting Circular Migration Patterns: Requires foreign countries to enter into migration agreements with the U.S. to control the flow of their citizens to the U.S. Encourages partnerships with Mexico to promote economic opportunity, reduce the pressure to immigrate to the U.S., and cooperation on access to health care so the U.S. is not unfairly impacted with the costs of administering health care to Mexican nationals.

    Title VI- Family Unity and Backlog Reduction: Provides additional visas to reduce family and employment immigrant visa backlogs. Removes unnecessary obstacles in current law that separate families, such as the affidavit-of-support requirements and the rigid bars to admissibility.

    Title VII- Adjustment of Status for Qualified Undocumented Immigrants: Allows undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to come out of the shadows, submit to background checks, and register for a legal status. Immigrants and their families would have 6 years to earn permanent residence and ultimately citizenship. To qualify, they would have to continue working, play by the rules, pay substantial fines and back taxes, and learn English.

  6. #6
    Bush has repeatedly said he will not support an amnesty, and the McCain-Kennedy bill can't be characterized as anything but, although they're sure trying to.

    I just love this one: Title VI- Family Unity and Backlog Reduction: Provides additional visas to reduce family and employment immigrant visa backlogs. Removes unnecessary obstacles in current law that separate families, such as the affidavit-of-support requirements and the rigid bars to admissibility.

    The main objection to legalizing illegal aliens, aside from the fact that they're breaking our laws, is that we're importing poverty. McCain-Kennedy just want to make it easier to do that, and you can guess who'll end up paying for it.

  7. #7

  8. #8
    Believe me, the president will sign the mccain bill..Mccain had been a huge supporter of the president and i cant see him vetoeing a mccain bill..If it passes the house,it will be sign by the president...Amnesty has different meaning to to different people...Anti-immigrant bashers meaning of amnesty is any type of guest worker program..even if the permit is very strict and has no path to citizenship, it is still an amnesty tto aliba and his racist group..to me, if the migrants pay $2,000, passes background checks, pay back taxes, learn english, then wait in line untill the migrants that tried to get in legally obtains green card before they get theirs... this is not amnesty.

  9. #9
    It's what amnesty means to voters that matters, and anything that smacks of amnesty--allowing people who have broken our laws to remain here and become citizens--will not play well in Peoria. All you're describing--getting in line, paying fees and taxes--is what illegal aliens should have done in the first place, and is hardly a "punishment". Someone who is not only not being punished for breaking a law, but is getting the very thing he broke the law to get, is being amnestied. Meaning, it will not get through the House.

  10. #10
    Thanks, NYC001, for the url. I especially like this part of the press conference (most of it's the usual doublespeak). We see from the very following who's advising the President on immigration matters, and it's all the usual special interest groups, of course. I wonder why the President doesn't meet with some workers who've been laid off from manufacturing jobs, or with jobless low-skilled African-American males in inner cities. But this president only meets with selected audiences in selected and controlled settings, and usually with pre-set questions and answers. I wonder if the President expects these workers to compete for those "high paying, high growth" jobs with a high school education or less? And even those jobs aren't immune from being outsourced or insourced.

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President met with a very diverse group of people, people from the -- that represent the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, represent agricultural interests, people that -- religious leaders and faith-based leaders. So he had a diverse group of people he met with earlier today. You've got the list of the people that he met with, and you saw them when he spoke earlier.

    But what he's referring to, in terms of a temporary worker program, is jobs that Americans are not filling. That's specifically what he was talking about earlier. These tend to be unskilled or lower-skilled jobs. And that's the economic need that needs to be met -- when there's a willing worker and a willing employer, trying to match those people together.

    Q So you don't have a study, you're just citing anecdotal information from interest groups?

    MR. McCLELLAN: No, this is actual facts. This is hearing directly from people on the ground. The President was governor of Texas; he knows firsthand the situation when it comes to our borders and people coming here to work and they're illegal. He knows firsthand this issue very well and it's been a top priority for him a long time. But I dispute your characterization, because you can go around the country and talk to people and they'll point out the need that is not being met here.

    Q I've talked to contractors; they tell me that the wages in their industry are being depressed by illegal --

    MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I would point out to you that we've got a very strong economy because of the policies that we've put in place. This is a growing economy. And there are a lot of high-paying, high-growth jobs that are becoming available. And so --

    Q I don't dispute that --

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