Apr 16 2006

Immigration Bill Is Likely

Published by at 8:21 am under All General Discussions,Illegal Immigration

Fred Barnes writes today that a ‘pro-immigration’ bill is likely when Congress returns from Easter break. I think Fred’s arguments are a bit simplistic, but the result is accurate:

THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE HAS FLIPPED in President Bush’s favor. The public now firmly supports toughened border enforcement plus–and this is a big plus for the president–a system for letting illegal immigrants already in America earn citizenship. This has been Bush’s position all along, though the president has been reluctant to trumpet it. The ones with the politically untenable position are Democrats who want an immigration issue (but not actual legislation) to use against Republicans in November, and Republicans who want merely to increase border security.

The upshot is that an immigration bill appears likely (but not certain) to pass when Congress returns from its Easter recess on April 24–and probably in a “comprehensive” form congenial to Bush and Republican congressional leaders. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have indicated they back this approach, not a bill simply calling for stronger border security.

One key aspect of the guest worker program that was a breakthrough was the breaking the illegal immigrant workers into groups depending on how long they have been in the country. Five plus years in country and the immigrant simply has to apply for the guest worker status (while getting a background ceck, paying a fine and dealing with any tax issues). 2-5 years and they must leave the country for a short time (as a reminder to what they are being offered, and I guess to see if any have second thoughts on the requirements to stay). But the best part is the under two years. All of the people here less than two years must leave.

This will help avoid a mass migration into the country because no one coming in at this late date gets anything. Even if some get in, they can be sent back home because they will not have the status to remain. And no guest worker can jump ahead of anyone already in the process for citizenship. Which means no special treatment for not following the proper process.

Fred Barnes is right though, the polls have shifted strongly towards a combined approach of a strong, re-enforced border, documentation and background checks for guest workers, and some way to make businesses who employ immigrants responsible to make this work.

n a national survey in early April, the Washington Post/ABC News uncovered an astonishing level of backing for major reform. Asked whether they favored earned citizenship, only a guest worker program, or a sharp crackdown on illegal immigrants, 63 percent preferred earned citizenship, 14 percent a guest worker scheme, and only 20 percent for charging illegal immigrants with a felony and denying them work.

President Bush, who is supposedly a severely wounded, lame duck, is about to win passage of a well balanced, sweeping reform package on a very tough issue.  Which is why he is a much better President than all the arm chair pretenders in the media, the political class and the blogosphere give him credit for.

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