The New York Times reported that the White House may be willing to back off from the Senate bill, and support a bill which focuses on enforcement and moves onto a guest worker program in a few years. If he does that, the Senate’s reaction will be important to watch for — especially the Senate Democrats, whose support may be essential to get any bill passed in the Senate. Delaying a guest worker program is bad news for illegal immigrants and businesses, both of whom are subject to more aggressive law enforcement.
The Times reports:
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 Times summarizes a plan identified with Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence:
In a sign of that willingness, the White House last week invited a leading conservative proponent of an enforcement-first bill, Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, to present his ideas to Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in the Oval Office. Mr. Pence would require illegal immigrants — even those in the United States for decades — to leave the country briefly before returning, with proper documentation, to participate in a guest worker system. Private employment agencies would set up shop overseas to process applications; after six years in a guest worker program, an immigrant could apply for citizenship.