Thursday, March 29, 2007

excerpts from Los Angeles Times: White House works behind the scenes for immigration reform

The administration has been meeting with key Republican senators to devise a consensus plan aimed at garnering wide GOP support.
By Nicole Gaouette, Times Staff Writer
March 29, 2007

WASHINGTON — With President Bush looking to counter a legacy increasingly marred by the war in Iraq, the White House has launched a bold, behind-the-scenes drive to advance a key domestic goal: immigration reform.

For a month, White House staffers and Cabinet members have met three to four times a week with influential Republican senators and aides to hash out a consensus plan designed to draw a significant number of GOP votes.

With that effort largely completed, Republicans were hoping to present their proposal Wednesday to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who would lead the Democrats in any attempt to move a bill through the Senate...

Time is short, though. Immigration is one of the few areas where the Democratic Congress sees eye to eye with the lame-duck president, but strains between the two are likely to worsen as the 2008 election nears.

Though public work on an immigration overhaul appeared to have slowed, momentum simply moved behind closed doors...

The White House has focused its energy on the Senate, which plans to move first. If the Senate can pass a bipartisan bill with strong Republican backing, it could give conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats in the House the political cover to vote for it.

The Republican strategy sessions, held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, have typically included Gutierrez, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, White House personnel, six to 10 senators and various aides. Republicans with real differences on immigration are taking part...

Details of the Republican plan have not been released, but some of the proposals are known. Some illegal immigrants would be given legal status through an infinitely renewable "Z visa." Those who want to become U.S. citizens would have to leave the country and return legally. A guest worker program would be created that does not allow participants to bring family members, remain in the U.S. or become citizens. And, to ensure that employers can check on whether job applicants are legal, databases at Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration would be linked...


No comments: