Wednesday, January 7, 2004

There Goes the Buchanan Vote

President Bush plans to announce “sweeping” reforms to the nation’s immigration policy. From the NY Times:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 — President Bush will propose a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws on Wednesday that could give legal status to millions of undocumented workers in the United States, senior administration officials said Tuesday night.

Under Mr. Bush’s proposal, which effectively amounts to an amnesty program for illegal immigrants with jobs in the United States, an undocumented worker could apply for temporary worker status here for an unspecified number of years, with all the employee benefits, like minimum wage and due process, accorded to those legally employed.

Workers who are approved would be permitted to travel freely between the United States and their home countries, the officials said, and would also be permitted to apply for a green card granting permanent residency in the United States.

Administration officials said that Mr. Bush would also propose increasing the number of green cards issued each year, which is now about 140,000, but they did not provide a specific number. The administration officials, who briefed reporters in a conference call on Tuesday night, said only that Mr. Bush would ask for a “reasonable increase.”

Mr. Bush’s proposal, one administration official said, would “match willing workers with willing employers” and would “promote compassion” by fixing what one called “a broken system.” The officials declined to call it an amnesty program.

I predict two things will happen: the number of people trying to cross the border through the Arizona and New Mexico desert – a treacherous journey any time of the year – will skyrocket and more will die, and the America First wing of the Republican party will go ballistic, especially when they realize that they’ll have to pay their maids, gardeners, and nannies a living wage (Yeah, that’ll happen). On top of that, what might otherwise be a reasonable approach to a staggering problem will be seen as pandering by Bush to rope in the Hispanic vote for the 2004 election, which, in light of the Texas redistricting debacle, it is.