Monday, April 09, 2007

5 days until Dublin meeting for families and friends of the Irish undocumented in America

Bush Returns to Work on Immigration Plan
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer
Monday, April 9, 2007

(04-09) 09:44 PDT Crawford, Texas (AP)

President Bush returns to work Monday on the volatile issue of immigration, where his hope for a legislative breakthrough is complicated by cold relations with Congress.

Bush will be back in Yuma, Ariz., to inspect the construction of border fencing and to push for the creation of a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The trip serves as a bookend to the visit Bush made to the same southwest desert city last May.

It also comes as tension rises over a new immigration proposal tied to the White House.
Bush's team is privately working hard to rally votes for what Bush calls comprehensive reform — a mix of get-tough security with promises of fair treatment for undocumented residents.

The Democratic-led Congress, eager to show some accomplishment on a core issue, wants to get a law passed. So does Bush, who is seeing opportunities to advance his agenda shrink.
Yet immigration is a sticky issue, and the fault lines don't fall along party lines.

With up to 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., lawmakers haven't agreed on how to uphold the law without disrupting lives, eroding the workforce and risking political upheaval.

Bush is hopeful for a legislative compromise by August. He will make his case at a point along
the Yuma Sector Border, a 125-mile stretch overlapping Arizona and California.

The president's relations with Congress these days have been soured by the war in Iraq. He is
at odds with Democratic lawmakers over a bill to extend war funding in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On immigration, the White House has been quietly trying to build momentum.

Administration officials, led by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, have been meeting privately for weeks with Republican senators. That expanded to a meeting in late March with key senators from both parties.

Out of that session, a work-in-progress plan emerged — one described as a draft White House plan by officials in both parties and advocacy groups who got copies of the detailed blueprint.

The White House disputes that characterization. Spokesman Scott Stanzel said it was only a starting point, an emerging consensus of Republican senators and the White House.

Regardless, the floated proposal has already met opposition. Thousands of people marched through Los Angeles on Saturday, fueled in part by what they called a betrayal by Bush.

The plan would grant work visas to undocumented immigrants but require them to return home and pay hefty fines to become legal U.S. residents. They could apply for three-year work visas, dubbed "Z" visas, which would be renewable indefinitely but cost $3,500 each time.

The undocumented workers would have legal status with the visas, but to become legal permanent residents with a green card, they'd have to return to their home country, apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate to re-enter legally and pay a $10,000 fine.

That's far more restrictive than the bipartisan bill the Senate approved last year.


Anonymous said...

Commentary: Immigration plan unites far right and far left
By Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- Illegal immigration is dividing the country, but efforts to tackle the problem may just bring it together. Well, sort of.

Some of the more thoughtful proposals -- as opposed to those that fit neatly on cocktail napkins -- are uniting the far right and the far left in opposition.

That is exactly what happened recently when the news broke that the White House -- working with Senate Republicans -- was suggesting ideas of its own for how to reform the immigration system.

The White House plan provides for border enforcement, guest workers and a path to legalization for illegal immigrants already here -- provided they first return to their home country and apply to re-enter legally. This is what has become known as a "touchback," and the concept appears in a couple of pieces of Congressional legislation as well.

The administration also wants to tinker with the criteria for how we decide which immigrants are allowed to come legally. For the last 40 years, the emphasis has been on family reunification. Of the more than 1 million visas issued in 2005, 58 percent went to relatives of people who were already here.

The White House suggests that we redirect as many as 50,000 visas that take into account factors such as an immigrant's education, training, and language skills as well as the employment needs of the country.

Conservatives hate the fact that millions of illegal immigrants would be allowed to stay; liberals hate that, from now on, family reunification would no longer be the deciding factor as to who immigrates legally to the country. So, both sides immediately began slinging arrows at the White House.

But these ideas are worth debating. And we can't allow the folks at the extremes to short-circuit those discussions for the sake of their own interest.

I'll start. The touchback is a worthwhile idea, because it requires illegal immigrants do penance for breaking our laws while reinforcing the notion that the right to live in this country legally is valuable and must be earned.

It also may be worthwhile to revisit the emphasis we put on family reunification. For one thing, the numbers are small. The White House is talking about 50,000 visas, or less than 5 percent of the total number typically granted in a given year.

Having said that, the emphasis should go to employment needs and not to personal factors such as education, training or other skills. Getting into the United States should not be like getting into Harvard.

Anyone who says otherwise doesn't understand the first thing about this country or the enormous contributions that have been made over the generations by low-skilled immigrants from all over the world who didn't have so much as a high school diploma.

When it comes to fixing our broken immigration system, there is no perfect plan. But, as they say, we can't make the perfect the enemy of the good. And as ideas go, there is a lot of good out there. So let's stop looking for flaws and start looking for solutions -- before the problem gets worse.

JD Hayworth said...

"When it comes to fixing our broken immigration system, there is no perfect plan".... but it's best to start with enforcing existing laws. Because how do we know you will enforce any new laws, when you can't even enforce the existing laws?