Bush gives impetus to immigration reform
The president was to address the nation today in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.
FOLLOWING an unexpected, bipartisan agreement of Senate leaders, President Bush is risking disharmony in his own party by urging enactment of fair but tough immigration reform. Proponents of the measure should use the president's televised address today to overcome loud and angry calls for exporting millions of undocumented aliens and put many of them on the road to citizenship.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has stated his opposition to "amnesty." That is a code word used by immigration-reform opponents for proposals ranging from Bush's guest-worker program to a Senate bipartisan measure allowing undocumented workers to apply for visas, pay fines, be allowed to work and eventually become eligible for citizenship.
The May 1 march for reform threatened to polarize the issue, but Frist and Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, ended an impasse last week, allowing the issues to be resolved on the Senate floor. The Senate was to begin taking up the issue today and reach a vote by Memorial Day.
In recent days, Bush has said he favors legislation that would allow illegal aliens to eventually attain citizenship after they pay fines, commit to learn English and "get in the back of the line" behind legal immigrants awaiting naturalization. That puts him at loggerheads with conservative Republicans in the House, which has passed a bill that would turn all illegal aliens into felons.
The key to compromise is enforcement at the borders. The president was expected today to propose new measures, including the use of more troops, along the U.S. border with Mexico. The House voted last week to allow the Pentagon to assign active-duty military troops to help with border security.
Advocates of reform should not oppose such increased security. Enhanced enforcement is the only way to achieve the balance politically necessary for enactment of a comprehensive reform bill.
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