Bush drafts new immigration reform plan
By Edward Alden in Washington
September 16, 2005
The White House has drawn up a comprehensive proposal to reform US immigration laws that would allow illegal immigrants already in the country to remain as legal guest workers, but would force them to leave after six years and re-apply to return.
The drafting of such a detailed scheme indicates that President George W. Bush remains determined to push ahead with immigration reform despite the national attention on Hurricane Katrina.
“They're further along than I thought,” said Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican who has been pushing for immigration reform.
The proposal was outlined to a small group of House Republicans this week in a meeting convened by Karl Rove, White House deputy chief of staff.
Mr Bush told Republican lawmakers at a private meeting in July that he wanted an immigration bill taken up this autumn, and he appears to be pressing ahead on that timetable despite the disruption caused by the hurricane.
In the House of Representatives, Republican speaker Dennis Hastert has directed his party to try to resolve sharp internal differences between those who favour increased legal immigration and those who want existing laws against illegal immigration enforced aggressively. Rep John Shadegg of Arizona is leading that effort.
The White House plan has three main pillars, including tougher enforcement along the borders, stiffer penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and the creation of a large temporary worker programme.
Jim Kolbe, an Arizona Republican who was at the meeting, said the White House plan “tracks pretty closely” with a bill he has introduced along with Mr Flake and Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy, which is backed by business and immigrant rights' groups.
On enforcement, the White House wants to add hundreds of border agents, expand detention facilities for holding illegal immigrants caught in the US and create a faster process for deporting those who overstay visas.
But the proposal to force workers to return to their own countries after six years will draw fire from supporters of the McCain-Kennedy bill.
They argue that many of the estimated 10m illegal immigrants in the US will not come out of the shadows if they face the prospect of repatriation. The McCain-Kennedy legislation, in contrast, provides a path for illegal immigrants to become permanent US residents without leaving the country.
“We would have serious concerns about that,” said Randy Johnson, co-chair of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, a business group lobbying for a temporary worker programme. “It would pull these people out of jobs in which they're needed and disrupt many businesses.”
Mr Kolbe said the White House is looking to assuage critics who say any programme that allows illegal immigrants to become permanent residents amounts to an amnesty. “I understand the politics of this, but I'm not sure it works,” he said.
That's all I need to know.
Sen. Cornyn is pushing a plan that doesn't give amnesty to those already in the US illegally.
We already have laws against illegal entry to the US, and the employing of illegal aliens
But, I guess if we just get a couple more laws to "clarify" the situation, everything will be fine
Go that right