PRESIDENT BUSH HIGHLIGHTS HIS IMMIGRATION REFORM
In his final formal press conference of the year December 20, President Bush said he is moving forward with his plans to create a temporary worker program that would allow millions of illegal aliens to remain and work in the U.S. for a minimum of three years with no fear of deportation or other punishment. The president also criticized current U.S. Immigration policy: "The system we have today is not a compassionate system. It's not working," the president said
Any proposed changes to immigration policy must take into account what the president calls "reality." "There are some jobs in America that Americans won't do and others are willing to do," Bush said. "We ought to have a system that recognizes people are coming here to do jobs that Americans will not do. And there ought to be a legal way for them to do so."
A White House fact sheet entitled, "Fair and Secure Immigration Reform, states that the temporary worker program would be open to new foreign workers, and to the undocumented men and women currently employed in the U.S. This new program would allow workers who currently hold jobs to come out of hiding and participate legally in America's economy, while not encouraging further illegal behavior.
The program would last three years, but would be renewable. Bush insists he is not proposing amnesty, or an easier road to citizenship, for illegal aliens. "Now, one of the important aspects of my vision is that this is not automatic citizenship. The American people must understand that if somebody who is here working wants to be a citizen, they can get in line like those who have been here legally and have been working to become a citizen in a legal manner," he said.
The Bush proposal also includes provisions to allow participants to cross back and forth from their country of origin to maintain family ties. President Bush said that U.S. Border Patrol agents should focus on more important duties. "We want our border patrol agents chasing crooks and thieves and drug runners and terrorists, not good-hearted people who are coming here to work." President Bush described his proposal as a more compassionate way to treat people who come to our country.
Speculation is that the Social Security changes
the president wants will be introduced prior to the immigration
reforms. Mention of this issue in this press conference, however,
is an indicator of the importance the president puts on the
immigration changes he wants.
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