Skip to comments.Bush faces GOP fight over guest workers
Posted on 12/27/2004 9:23:23 AM PST by calcowgirl
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush faces a major rebellion within his own party if he follows through on a promise to push legislation that would offer millions of illegal immigrants a path to U.S. citizenship. Almost no issue divides Republicans as deeply.
To get the guest-worker initiative through Congress, Bush will need to go against the wishes of many Republicans and forge bipartisan alliances. That's what President Clinton did in 1993 to win approval for a free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, over objections of a large bloc of congressional Democrats.
The chance seems slim for finding common ground between those in favor of liberalized immigration laws - Bush, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for example - and those who want fewer immigrants, tougher border controls and harsher penalties.
Opposition is strongest among House Republicans.
"In our party, this is a deep division that is growing deeper every minute," says Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo. He heads a group of 70 lawmakers who are against easing immigration laws.
Tancredo said Bush's guest-worker proposal is "a pig with lipstick" and will not pass.
Bush asserts that he won valuable "political capital" in the election and intends to spend it. It is not clear how much of that he is willing to spend on the immigration measure.
Higher on his list of priorities is overhauling the Social Security system, rewriting the tax laws, limiting lawsuit judgments, and making his first-term tax cuts permanent.
An estimated 10 million immigrants live in the United States illegally; the vast majority are from Mexico, with an additional million arriving every year.
A hint of the trouble ahead for Bush on immigration came this month when proposals to tighten - not ease - border restrictions nearly undermined a bill to restructure U.S. intelligence agencies.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee wanted the measure to bar states from giving a driver's license to illegal immigrants. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said some of the Sept. 11 hijackers gained access to U.S. aircraft by using a driver's license as identification.
Sensenbrenner ultimately backed down, but only after House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill, promised that the chairman's proposal would be considered in separate legislation in 2005.
Hastert also indicated he would not move ahead on major legislation unless it was supported by a majority of Republicans in the GOP-controlled House - and that he would not rely on Democratic support to pass a bill.
Immigration overhaul is "an issue that splits both parties, and given the new Hastert rule, may never go anywhere," said William A. Niskanen, chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute. Niskanen was a member of President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers.
The president's plan would grant temporary-worker status, for three years to six years, to millions of undocumented workers. It also would it easier for those workers to get permanent U.S. citizenship.
As governor of Texas, Bush was committed to immigration changes. As president, he came close to making a deal with Mexican President Vicente Fox in the days before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Those plans were put on hold as tighter borders took on a higher priority for the United States.
As a presidential candidate, both in 2000 and 2004, Bush eagerly courted Hispanics, the fastest-growing ethnic group in the electorate.
"We will keep working to make this nation a welcoming place for Hispanic people, a land of opportunity para todos (for all) who live here in America," Bush told the League of United Latin American Citizens last summer.
Bush claimed 35 percent of Hispanic voters in 2000 and at least 40 percent last Nov. 2, according to exit polls. That compares with the 21 percent won by Bob Dole in 1996 and the 25 percent that Bush's father got in 1992.
Republican consultants suggest Bush will not make a big push for his immigration bill until he has achieved his goals on Social Security and the tax laws. They also say the president may jettison the immigration bill if it would jeopardize other parts of his agenda.
Inside the administration, nobody is suggesting that passing the immigration plan would be anything other than extremely difficult.
"We don't want to overpromise," Secretary of State Colin Powell said during a visit last month to Mexico City.
EDITOR'S NOTE Tom Raum has covered Washington for The Associated Press since 1973, including five presidencies.
I intend to fight my hardest to make sure the shamesty does not go thru.
Agree. Been through a major airport lately ?
Count me in on the side of the line drawn in the sand by Tancredo. Going to do everything I can to bring as many with me as possible.
What is so hard about sealing the border?
If its a good idea to have a million new immigrants each year, then fine, make the argument. Lets have that discussion, nationally, publicly. What we must not do is simply accept that number because that happens to be the number that walk across the border.
Immigration policy must serve the interests of citizens. It should never be simply a tool for adjusting wages, or a means for undermining labor law, or a way to adjust voter demographics. It should serve the interests of citizens, and whatever number we arrive at, whether 300,000 a year, or ten times that number, the leadership should be able to explain how that number was arrived at, and why that number is the right one, and not some other.
Far from installing a guest-worker program, I would favor a moratorium on new immigrants for a few years, restricting it to family members of citizens, and a very few others.
The notion that immigrants take jobs that Americans don't want is a distortion of truth; they take jobs that Americans don't want at the price offered, and the conditions offered. Close off illegal immigration and wages for these jobs will exceed legal minimums without any need for a minimum wage law, as employers suddenly have to compete for workers.
Tancredo isn't going to become President or anything else. His support is about as strong as Pat Buchanan's was which is about 1%-2%.
With GOP help like this, we'll never solve California's financial problems.
"What is so hard about sealing the border?"
Do our politicians and our soldiers have the guts to shoot all Mexican males approaching the border?
Over the years Bush has displayed a lot of good old-fashioned common sense. But not on this issue. He has yet to explain why he supports giving US citizenship to people that have broken our laws. Bush said: "Family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River..." <--What the heck does that mean? Where did he get that line? From Bill Clinton? Criminal intent does not stop at the borders, various diseases do not stop at the borders, etc.
One thing that MUST BE CHANGED is the asinine idea that whenever someone enters this country illegally and then has a child that child automatically become a US citizen. What a stupid idea that has always been.
"Every 10 minutes"??? As far as I could determine, it wasn't posted before.
Travelling this Christmas holiday, every clerk and helper in Seattle and Mpls was hearing some kind of middle eastern head scarf. Reminded me of Toronto.
The details are not yet available but I am totally against what is said so far. However I am against wholesale expulsions. New laws would just mean our government and business leaders have more laws to ignore as it suits their personal benefit.
The evidence of a 1990's explosion of ILLEGAL immigration is both quantifiable and tangible. The SSA's Earnings Suspense File (ESF) of W-2 data reported for phony / stolen SSNs jumped from a yearly average of around 10 billions in earrings to over 50 billions in earnings reported per year.
Given an average of $20,000 there would be 2.5 million ILLEGAL aliens working "on the books" by 2000. (There couldn't been that many marriages and other name changes without notifying SSA in the 1990s.)
Our government and businesses invited them in. IMO.
To me if a theater chain's governing board speaks publicly about the people's right to see good movies and then hinders management from always having a ticket seller at the door, well.. personally I don't call it criminal for the public to just walk in. The governing board effectively decreed that the rules be suspended.
Most probably don't agree but surely most will consider separating the real criminals among the ILLEGAL aliens from the workers. The workers can be further refined into "off books" and "on books". There's also a breakout of seasonal and permanent jobholders.
A one-size-fits-all solutions will not work.
It is a good thing there are still some in Washington that give a damn about our borders, our laws, our soverignty, our taxpayers, and our culture.
This is the U.S. of A...not Mexico!!! Why should the citizens of the U.S. tolerate law breakers, and Washington politicians that just want to pander for votes and paybacks at the expense of the REAL U.S. CITIZEN ???
BIG QUESTION: Why should I have to meet the requirements of citizenship if these Mexicans don't??? Are there TWO SETS OF LAWS IN WASHINGTON????
I am with you. I am just getting outraged over this nonsense. My Wife came from China, LELGALLY. She come with nothing, received her green card, learned the language, worked,paid taxes and never asked the govt for anything but a chance. She now runs her own business. She is just a PO'd about illegals this as I am.
That makes too much sense. Who are you? Are you from around these parts? :)
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo. He heads a group of 70 lawmakers who are against easing immigration laws.
Tancredo doesn't have to be the President to have an impact.
This caucus didn't even exist until about six years ago. He started it and it has grown. He will be a force to be reckoned with if any legislation is to get through the House.
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