Bush pushes for new immigration strategyNov. 29, 2005
Beto Pina bites into a stalk of celery while working the fields Nov. 14 on a farm near Fillmore, Calif. The farm only has about half of the 70 farm workers needed. As farmers nationwide complain about labor shortages and pressure the Bush administration for a massive guest worker program to bring in Hispanic workers, civilian groups and the Border Patrol increase efforts to stop what they claim is an unchecked flow of illegal immigrants.
The Associated Press
TUCSON, Ariz. -- President Bush said Monday he wants to crack down on those who enter the country illegally but also give out more visas to foreigners with jobs, a dual plan he hopes will appease the social conservatives and business leaders who are his core supporters.
"The American people should not have to choose between a welcoming society and a lawful society," Bush said from the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base about an hour from the Mexican border. "We can have both at the same time."
The touchy issue of immigration has divided lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he will bring up the issue early next year. The House hopes to tackle some border security measures before adjourning for the year, but little time remains and it has other issues on its plate.
Bush is slated to pitch his plan today in Arizona and Texas, two border states that are home to GOP senators who have been vocal on the need to change immigration laws but who aren't entirely sold on Bush's vision.
The idea for temporary worker visas has been especially divisive and is stalled in Congress. Bush said he does not support amnesty for illegal immigrants,but he does want to give workers a way to earn an honest living doing jobs that other Americans are unwilling to do and issue more green cards.
"There's a lot of opinions on this proposal," Bush said. "But people in this debate must recognize that we will not be able to effectively enforce our immigration laws until we create a temporary worker program."
Also Monday in Phoenix, Bush sought to counter calls by some in Congress for a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces.
"We will stay until the job is done, not a day longer. We will get the job done in Iraq," Bush told 1,300 people at a fundraiser for Republican Sen. Jon Kyle's re-election campaign.
The president also promoted his plans to make tax cuts permanent, praised his Supreme Court picks new Chief Justice John Roberts and associate justice nominee Samuel Alito and pitched his immigration and border security proposals.
Earlier in Tucson, Bush spoke to a supportive audience that included border patrol agents and military troops. He was flanked by two black Customs and Border Protection helicopters and giant signs that said "Protecting America's Borders."
The president's push on border security and immigration comes a month after Bush signed a $32 billion homeland security bill for 2006 that contains large increases for border protection, including 1,000 additional Border Patrol agents.
Bush has been urging Congress to act on a guest worker program for more than a year.