(by Susan Jones, CNSNews.com) – Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says President Bush “got off to a good start” with his Monday night speech on immigration.
But Reid, suggesting the president’s plan doesn’t go far enough, also called for a “long-term strategy” to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.
“Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and bring 12 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows,” Reid said in a statement after the president addressed the nation.
Reid urged Bush to “stand up to right-wing members of his own party who are working to block Senate action. He should denounce the misguided approach of House Republicans, and exercise his leadership to get the job done.”
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) praised the president’s decision to send National Guard troops to the border: It’s the “shot in the arm we need to strengthen our borders and protect our families,” Hastert said.
In his nationally televised address Monday night, President Bush said the United States must enforce its laws, while welcome immigrants at the same time.
He said his reform plan has “five clear objectives,” as follows:
— Secure borders: President Bush wants Congress to provide funding for “dramatic improvements in manpower and technology at the border.” He wants another 6,000 Border Patrol officers by the end of 2008; and he called for construction of high-tech fences and new patrol roads, as well as the installation of motion sensors, infrared cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
During the transition, President Bush wants to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to assist border patrol agents — by operating surveillance systems, analyzing intelligence, installing fences and vehicle barriers, building patrol roads, and providing training.
“Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities — that duty will be done by the Border Patrol,” President Bush said. “The United States is not going to militarize the southern border. Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend. We will continue to work cooperatively to improve security on both sides of the border, to confront common problems like drug trafficking and crime, and to reduce illegal immigration,” he said.
Bush also said the U.S. must make sure that every illegal immigrant caught crossing the border is sent home. No more “catch and release,” he said.
— Temporary worker program: President Bush said the program is not amnesty, althought critics disagree.
He said such a program “would create a legal path for foreign workers to enter our country in an orderly way, for a limited period of time.” He said workers would be required to pass criminal background checks – and they would have to return their home country at the conclusion of their stay.
— Employer accountability: President Bush called for a “better system of verifying documents and work eligibility, including a new, tamper-proof identification card for every legal foreign worker.”
— Dealing with illegals already here: President Bush said the nation must confront the reality that million of illegal immigrants already are here: “They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship,” he said. “This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully, and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration.”
— Melting pot tradition: “The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society, and embrace our common identity as Americans,” President Bush said. Toward that end, he said newcomers must learn to write and speak the English language.
In his address, President Bush urged the House and Senate to send him a “comprehensive immigration reform bill” that addresses all five of the elements mentioned above.
“The House has passed an immigration bill,” the president noted. “The Senate should act by the end of this month so we can work out the differences between the two bills,” he added.
NumbersUSA, a group that favors strict limits on immigration , praised President Bush’s call for stronger border security, but it condemned his call for a guest worker program.
“Granting people exactly what they broke the law to obtain is amnesty, no matter how much the President denies it or what euphemisms he tries to use to mask the plain truth,” said Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA.
Beck urged President Bush to stop listening to the “cheap-labor lobby.” Instead, President Bush should “hear the cries of the American people who resoundingly want to see the rule of law restored and the interests of Americans put first,” Beck said.
NumbersUSA complained that President Bush “failed to mention attrition,” which it views as “the most common-sense approach to the illegal alien problem.”
By enforcing current immigration laws that make it difficult for illegal aliens to remain and work in the United States, many will go home on their own, Beck argued — resulting in a significant decrease in the illegal alien population, Beck said. That’s just what the House-passed bill (H.R. 4437) would do,” he added.
Beck said although he advocates secure borders, he has “serious concerns” about allowing unarmed National Guard troops on the border, given the dangers they would face from smugglers and drug dealers.
NumbersUSA has pointed to studies showing that an increase in legal immigration is linked to increases in illegal immigration:
“A dramatic increase in legal immigration coupled with an amnesty also will usher in an era of unprecedented illegal immigration,” he said.
“The result would be the creation of a transnational welfare outreach program, as anyone dissatisfied with their life elsewhere would be allowed to enter the United States unabated and to stay unchecked at the expense of U.S. citizens.”
On the other side of the argument, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), a group representing some 6,000 elected and appointed officials, said it likes the idea of a temporary worker program — as long as that program provides “an earned path to legalization and U.S. citizenship” for illegal aliens who have been living in the U.S. for a number of years.
NALEO also praised Bush’s call for immigrants to assimilate, but it expressed concern that Bush did not offer ideas on how to pay for “civic integration services,” such as English language instruction.
But NALEO said it was “deeply troubled” by the president’s proposal to deploy National Guard troops along the border – and to involve state and local enforcement agencies in some border patrol missions.
“With respect to the National Guard deployment, our nation has traditionally maintained a separation between the personnel involved in military operations and those involved in civilian law enforcement activities,” NALEO said.
“Border enforcement personnel must use specialized law enforcement techniques – and they must also have extensive expertise in immigration law, border policies and human rights issues. National Guard troops and local law enforcement agencies simply do not possess the expertise and experience required for border enforcement,” the group said.
NALEO also argued that using state and local law enforcement agencies in immigration enforcement would make “newcomers” fearful of reporting crimes or cooperating with local law enforcement.
“As a result, local police may not be able to obtain information they need to solve crimes, combat terrorism, and keep our communities and neighborhoods safe,” NALEO said. “We urge the President to reject the National Guard and local police involvement in immigration enforcement as an ineffective approach to enhancing border security.”
NALEO also said it was disappointed that President Bush did not condemn a House-passed border security bill, which NALEO describes as “unfair and inhumane” because it would “criminalize undocumented immigrants” and penalize groups that help them.
For the record, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) say it was House Democrats who insisted on making unlawful presence in the United States a felony rather than a misdemeanor. (See earlier story.)
Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.
1. List the five objectives of President Bush’s plan to reform immigration.
2. For each of the President’s objectives, write whether you agree or disagree and explain why.
3. What is Numbers USA? Why don’t they agree with President Bush’s guest worker program?
4. Define attrition. Roy Beck of Numbers USA says attrition is the most common-sense approach to the illegal alien problem. How does he explain this idea? What do you think of this idea? Why?
5. What is NALEO? How does their view of the guest worker program and National Guard deployment differ from that of Numbers USA? What do you think of NALEO’s viewpoint on the use of law enforcement agencies in immigration enforcement? Why?
6. Recent protests by supporters of illegal immigrants were said to have been sparked by the House immigration bill that included a provision to make illegal entry into the U.S. a felony. Did Democrat or Republican members of the House push to change it to a felony? Why do you think they did so?
Daily “Answers” emails are provided for Daily News Articles, Tuesday’s World Events and Friday’s News Quiz.