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An hour ago, I wrote perhaps the greatest single post on immigration ever seen in the blogosphere. Unfortunately, Movable Type ate the danged thing, and so my brilliance will have to go unrecognized, alas. I'm sure you'll all take my word for it .... right?
At any rate, the New York Times reported that George Bush may demonstrate some flexibility on a borders-first approach to immigration reform. Bush called a plan to compromise between the House and Senate plans by Mike Pence "very intriguing," according to a White House aide in charge of legislative affairs:
Republicans both inside and outside the White House say Mr. Bush, who has long insisted on comprehensive reform, is now open to a so-called enforcement-first approach that would put new border security programs in place before creating a guest worker program or path to citizenship for people living in the United States illegally.
"He thinks that this notion that you can have triggers is something we should take a close look at, and we are," said Candi Wolff, the White House director of legislative affairs, referring to the idea that guest worker and citizenship programs would be triggered when specific border security goals had been met, a process that could take two years.
The shift is significant because Mr. Bush has repeatedly said he favors legislation like the Senate's immigration bill, which establishes border security, guest worker and citizenship programs all at once. The enforcement-first approach puts Mr. Bush one step closer to the House, where Republicans are demanding an enforcement-only measure.
"The willingness to consider a phased-in situation, that's a pretty big concession from where they were at," said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, whose closeness to Mr. Bush dates to his days as a top Republican National Committee official. "It's a suggestion they are willing to negotiate."
Bush did send some encouraging signals, but I doubt it will be enough. I went into more depth on this in the post that vanished into the ether, but Bush did not do much to endorse Pence's plan, which calls for illegals to self-deport in order to qualify for a guest-worker program and eligibility for American citizenship six years later. The Pence plan eliminates most of the amnesty-style points of the Hagel-Martinez bill that John McCain favors, but it still puts these illegals ahead of those seeking legal entry and citizenship. Besides, Bush took pains today to underscore the need to treat the 11 million illegals with "respect", which doesn't sound like he's on board with the idea of deporting them.
If Bush has adopted a more open mind on phased implementation, that will help with some of the opposition to the Senate plan he favors. It will likely fail to impress immigration hardliners who want border and employment security first, last, and only. The Pence plan may not even impress them, and anything less will not lower their opposition to Bush's immigration policies.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on July 5, 2006 7:47 PM
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