More Legalization Talk
December 1, 2005

As demonstrated by a speech delivered this week, President Bush seems intent on passing some sort of immigration reform legislation before leaving office. His agenda incorporates the dual goals of 1) strengthening our borders and bringing back integrity to our immigration laws and 2) allowing willing and able foreign workers to fill jobs U.S. workers do not want. No one on either side of Congress appears to take issue with the first goal, but the shape of any measure to accomplish the second goal is the big, hot, political football. In this post 9/11 age, Bush seeks to push a measure that will not make him appear weak on law enforcement and rewarding illegal immigration, and at the same time, address the worker shortage in various industries. Instead of “amnesty”, Bush wants a “guest worker” law, with applicants eventually being required to return to their home countries. Most realists in Congress know that such a measure, without an “earned legalization” component (to allow for eventual permanent residence) will likely keep most of the 12 million undocumented in the shadows. The outcome in Washington will be interesting.

Also reintroduced in Congress last week by U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) is legislation to grant permanent residence to certain undocumented foreign national students who have graduated high school in the U.S. The ultimate fate of this proposal, like any new immigration measure, is most uncertain.

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