President George W. Bush addressed the nation on matters of immigration reform this evening. In his speech, he outlined five objectives:
- Secure the borders: “The border should be open to trade and lawful immigration, and shut to illegal immigrants, as well as criminals, drug dealers, and terrorists.”
- Create a temporary worker program: “Create a legal path for foreign workers to enter our country in an orderly way, for a limited period of time.”
- Hold employers to account for the workers they hire: “Businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees because of the widespread problem of document fraud... a new identification card for every legal foreign worker... a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility.”
- Illegal immigrants should not be given an automatic path to citizenship: “I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, to pay their taxes, to learn English, and to work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship, but approval would not be automatic, and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law.”
- Honor the great American tradition of the melting pot: “When immigrants assimilate and advance in our society, they realize their dreams, they renew our spirit, and they add to the unity of America.”
This must have been a very difficult speech. President Bush has the far right pressing him to run immigration with a firm hand, but at the same time it would political suicide for him to support the mass deportation of the millions of illegal aliens living in the United States.
For once, I think President Bush has got this absolutely right. I am very reassured by his stance. It appears to answer the need to protect America from the influx of undocumented and illegal aliens, while offering those who are already here a fair deal.