Editorial from THE REPUBLICAN:
Immigration reform: No sitting on the fence
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
First lady Laura Bush was in Washington, D.C. yesterday to act as the official hostess for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
Meanwhile, President Bush was in Yuma, Ariz., attempting to pull a rabbit out of a hat.
Bush may need to perform a magic trick to persuade Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
He signed a bill last October authorizing construction of 700 additional miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, but that is only part of what he wants from Congress.
He has repeatedly made it clear that comprehensive immigration reform must also provide a path to citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants who are already here.
Bush wants to sign such legislation. The Democrat-led Senate wants to pass something like it. However, there is strong opposition from Republicans - and some Democrats - in the House.
It seems ridiculous that time is running out on Bush, but he needs to win support for an immigration bill before lawmakers are preoccupied with the 2008 elections. That could be soon.
In addition, the standoff over war funding and the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys have soured relations between Bush and Democratic leaders in Congress, so that it is unseasonably cold in Washington these days.
Bush should not be denied this accomplishment because of partisan differences. The Democrats should find common ground with the president on a realistic immigration bill that shows the United States is still a land of opportunity even when it is facing the threat of terrorist attack.
The U.S. must secure its borders. It must also find a way to deal with the 12 million illegal immigrants who live and work here.
If many Republicans and some conservative Democrats have their way, the U.S. will send them home. By bus or by plane? Imagine the line at the ticket counter. That's simply not going to happen. Begin the debate from there.
There are parts of the Bush plan that should not be part of a final bill. For example, he would require immigrants to eventually return to their home country, apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate to re-enter here legally and pay a $10,000 fine. It's better that they pay a much smaller fine, learn English, study American civics, demonstrate they have paid taxes and take their place in line behind legal immigrants applying for citizenship.
It's not all about fences.
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