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Bush on the run to mend fences

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May 20, 2007

President George BushPresident George W. Bush on Saturday rushed to patch up a sudden rift with his most faithful Republican allies, who have supported him on Iraq but have revolted against a White House-backed immigration reform proposal.

With top conservatives crying "sellout," the president used his weekly radio address to emphasize the hurdles rather than the opportunities the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the country will have to face if they choose to legalize their status.

"This legislation will end chain migration by limiting the relatives who can automatically receive green (permanent resident) cards to spouses and minor children," Bush said.

Decisions on admitting future immigrants will be based on the level of applicants' professional skills, education and English proficiency rather than family ties to those already in the United States.

Some conservative analysts have expressed concern the reform may pave the way to the United States for as many as 50 million newcomers over the next several decades because legalization will make the 12 million illegals now in the country eligible to bring in family members.

The bipartisan compromise, announced by a group of US senators with great fanfare on Thursday, establishes a temporary worker program that illegal aliens would be able to join by applying to a renewable "Z" visa and paying a 1,000-dollar fine.

But it will allow program participants to eventually seek permanent residency and citizenship, although only after returning to their countries of origin and paying an additional 4,000 dollar fine.

Bush reiterated his support for the proposal on Saturday, saying the reform will "restore respect for the law, and meet the legitimate needs of our economy."

But he is facing a mutiny on the right flank of the Republican Party, which has staunchly supported him on the war in Iraq and now feels betrayed over the immigration issue.

"It's a big government fantasy with no hope of becoming reality," said Newt Gingrich, a former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives who is considering a 2008 White House run.

Republican Representative Tom Tancredo, a longshot presidential candidate, called the immigration plan "a slap in the face" of hard-working Americans.

"The president is so desperate for a legacy and a domestic policy win that he is willing to sell out the American people and our national security," said Tancredo, a hardliner on illegal immigration.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney argued the plan amounted to amnesty, while Senator Elizabeth Dole vowed to oppose it "unless it is radically altered."

Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who has strongly supported the president on Iraq, declared himself "deeply concerned" by the bill, while John Cornyn from the border state of Texas said he "simply cannot, and will not, support any legislation" offering undocumented aliens amnesty.

Even Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Bush's unwavering right-hand man in Congress, was unable to endorse the bill, promising only to "review" it.

The Democratic-led Senate was expected to take a procedural vote Monday to move the proposed legislation to debate.

With the fate of the reform uncertain and relations with allies strained, Bush made it a point to emphasize elements of the bill conservatives might like.

"I realize that many hold strong convictions on this issue, and reaching an agreement was not easy," he said.

Bush also moved to give new hope to conservatives, who have long called for making English the official language of the United States.

"This bill affirms that English is the language of the United States," Bush said without elaborating.

10 Responses to Bush on the run to mend fences

  1. long_rider

    May 20, 2007 at 11:15 am

    This bill is a farce, and is un-necessary, and is just another piece of legislation that is unworkable. There are several areas that it does not address:

    It does not provide for stopping further illegal immigration, this will just continue.

    It does not address enforcing existing laws against using illegal workers.

    How many of the 12 million illegal workers can afford $4,000.00 dollars?

    What system is in place to identify illegsl immigrants?

    What system is in place to track, and record the immigrants who apply for green cards, and make payments on the $4,000.00?

    What system is in place to prevent more illegal immigrants from entering our country?

    How many illegals are receiving welfare, or social security? How do we keep these people out of our social benefits system? How are we going to prevent them from registering to vote?

    Mexico has to aide in resolving this problem, and no one has addressed this.

    We have two choices:

    1. Make Mexico a state of the union.

    2. Strictly enforce the existing laws about employing illegal immigrants, and make the fines much stiffer.

    A simple question to be asked, why isn’t the law enforcing the existing laws against hiring illegal immigrants?

    I am against killing people for any reason, but I would not opposed the boarder patrol to administer a load of rock salt in someones butt. We have to arrive at a method that will protect our boarders, and not turn our country over to anyone who can sneek in. We have to remove these people from our nation, and fine Mexico for every illegal thet we return.

    I am sure that there are many ways to solve this problem, but we have a president who will not support the will of the people, but supports big business instead.

  2. Paolo

    May 20, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Republicans find themselves in an awkward position on immigration, in that they have to cater to both the anti-immigrant crowd AND their big-business contributors. A lot of their big-biz supporters want to have illegal immigration continue because they want access to cheap labor. Thus, republicans want immigration control, only done very haphazardly. Look at it as trying to appeal simultaneously to people who dislike brown people, and those who also dislike them, but want to hire them.

    Illegal immigrants, lacking protection of the law, can be hired cheaply and exploited mercilessly, since they are always under threat of deportation or prosecution if they get uppity in any way.

    Republican businessmen don’t want illegals made legal, because then they’d have to pay them more.

  3. Carl Nemo

    May 20, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Obviously illegal immigration is a problem and is a very costly proposition for the the nation. There are many jobs that white, North Americans will not do, plain and simple! I live in an area of the country that has many Hispanic workers. I have no idea if they are legal or illegal, but one thing I’ve noticed about all of them is they seem to have an intense work ethic. Even while engaged in menial, dirty jobs they do it with gusto and thoroughness. They seem happy to have a job in America.

    So the best plan to handle this situation is to turn working in America into fee-based permitting; i.e., a money-making proposition. Non-citizen Hispanics must register, submit to an indentification check, then pay a “reasonable” annual fee in the thousand dollar range and they are allowed egress into the U.S. for the work-season. Five thousand dollar fees have been proposed, but to me that’s excessive since these people work at low-paying menial jobs in many cases. A lower, reasonable fee will also put the “coyotes” out of business; i.e. illegal traffickers in human beings.

    They will also have to have “valid” social security numbers, that not only require they pay into the system as they do now, but also able to receive entitlements in time. They pay Federal and state taxes on their wages, so there is no free-ride concerning taxes. So my point is to bring this situation out into the daylight but without all the frenzy for roundups, punishment and the humiliation of people which will not work.

    Those that have been in this country for an excess of five years, working, raising families and have not committed felonies should be allowed to stay and continue with their activities, but again, placed in the same aforementioned permit system with them having to remit an annual work visa fee to the U.S. for being allowed to work in this country. The one’s that have been here should be allowed to apply for citizenship in country without a need to return to their homeland, and will have to wait their turn as others to be granted landed immigrant status.

    Those with less than five years in the country simply need to apply for the aformentioned fee-based work visa, have a background check etc. then simply move into the swinging door work-entry visa pipeline. No fines, no jail time, no nonsense. If their background check indicates they are linked with felonies, Mexican drug cartels or whatever then they need to be given the boot. Flying them to Mexico won’t cut it either because they’l be back in in a NY minute. They need to be returned to their Central and South American countries of origin. As a note, this less than five year group cannot apply for citizenship except through the normal external process that would take many years, if ever to achieve.

    Instead of having an East German style border with fences, towers, attack dogs, and land mines and armed guards we need to have “Smiley-Faced” border personnel with an interface that works simply through the function of fee-based permitting etc. Needless to say violations of this “friendly” accommodating fee-based interface needs to be dealt with in a serious manner with violators banned from re-entry and if caught a second time facing U.S. jail time. With this aforementioned system the Treasury could enjoy several billion dollars per annum in permit fees and the government would have a better grip as to who these folks are that enter America to work on a regular basis. Btw, not only Hispanics should be put on this program, but people of all nations that want to come to America. If you want to work in America then you have to pay an annual fee to do so.

    Simple, people-friendly solutions work better when dealing with complex social problems.

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. bryan mcclellan

    May 20, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    There are jobs that Americans won’t do because these SOB’s have driven wages and benefits into the ground Why in the hell should we support these leeches who won’t fix their own country but instead come here to suck off of the safety nets put into place for law abiding citizens. My daughter sat in the ER for six hours with strep so bad she could hardly breath while a steady stream of illegals were given attention ahead of her because she had no insurance.Anyone who supports amnesty has their head in a dark and smelly place.Stop the flow of money going back to mexico,secure the border and then talk about applying the laws already on the books.And no!! I don’t want to have to push one for english!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

  5. Steve Horn

    May 21, 2007 at 11:59 am

    I’m really sick of that – the notion that there are “jobs Americans won’t do” – if – for whatever reason – you’re out of work, have exhausted your unemployement insurance and are headed to welfare then there should be no such thing as a job you “won’t do” – this is an absurd notion – that there are jobs below the dignity of an American – what should be below the dignity of any American is to opt to not work and force the rest of us to pay and keep your lazy ass alive.

    Tell me – between the a guy cleaning toilets in a bus station and another guy pan-handling for money or living on the public dollar – who has more dignity? To my eyes the working man or woman will always have greater dignity and be far more deserving of respect than the idle.

  6. Carl Nemo

    May 21, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Steve Horn, I understand where you are coming from, but rest assured we aren’t going to roundup hundreds of thousands of white male and female fieldworkers to work all day under the blistering sun to harvest lettuce, strawberries, and a host of other vegetable and fruit crops found in our grocery stores, not even at ten bucks and hour. It’s tough, grueling work. We’re talking about hard, laborious work, non-stop, driven by the packaging process; i.e., grading, culling etc.

    I’m white and I surely don’t see any white folks cleaning those toilets, picking those crops or working the most menial jobs found in much of the service industry. You generally see Hispanics, Blacks, and Orientals, but not white people.

    Even if we expel all the illegal entrants to this country and field work wages were raised to fifteen bucks an hour you’d still not be able to fill the field jobs with overly eager white people. It’s a back-breaking job, plain and simple, and very few people want to work that hard.
    Responsible people will always find a way to survive but the irresponsible, the lazy, will gravitate towards easier jobs be they legal or illegal rather than engage in so-called honest, hard labor, under the hot, brutal sun…!

  7. JudyB

    May 21, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Bush signed a bill for 700 miles of fence between USA & Mexico’s 2200 mile border…10 miles of it have been completed thus far….What a farce! Bush not only has many fences to mend but one that has to be completed. Fiorget the damned fence.. I am not interested in hearing about any of this immigration business until our borders have been closed..then and only then will we be able to control our immigration problems.

  8. Steve Horn

    May 21, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    I cannot recall the details – and it’s probably been a month or more – but I remember reading about a contractor in San Diego who made millions building border fences (among other things) – why does his story stick in my mind? Simple – he was using illegal workers from Mexico to BUILD the fences …

    And so it goes ….

    edit – quick google – http://news.netscape.com/story/2006/12/15/border-fence-firm-snared-for-hiring-illegal-workers

  9. Bill Jonke

    May 21, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    If anyone were willing to do the research, they might find that the service industries are the only viable ones. Many “orporate” employees are getting laid off and finding themselves in the literal labor force, yes, cleaning toilets, residential and commercial repair jobs, sales, retail clerk positions, etc.

    The brutal truth is that there really are people willing to do this kind of work, simply because there’s nothing else, and smart people realize that pride goeth before the fall. These are not lazy people either.

    The forever corporate minded might eventually seem to be the lazy ones, those who wouldn’t know “labor” if they fell over it!

    Bill Jonke

  10. Steve Horn

    May 21, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Carl Nemo – “We’re talking about hard, laborious work, non-stop, driven by the packaging process; i.e., grading, culling etc.” –

    Yes – we are talking about hard, back breaking work. We’re also talking about a nation that was built on hard, back breaking labor – coal mining, timber harvesting, ranching, farming, industrial production – hard work – performed by men and women who were dedicated to giving their children a better life.

    Am I to understand that somehow we’re now all to damn good or precious or special to do this work? Am I to believe that we’ve reached a social status that will not “allow” us to get our collective hands dirty?

    If so then perhaps we should look to the slave based plantations as our social model – with the illegals and coyotes taking the place of the Africans and slave traders …