The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 18           May 8, 2006  
Bush: ‘No mass deportations’
Clinton: ‘Build wall along border’
(front page)
The debate in U.S. ruling circles on immigration “reform” is taking new twists and turns in the midst of ongoing mobilizations for immigrant rights across the country.

President George Bush said April 24 he doesn’t support mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. He reiterated his proposal for a “guest worker” program to keep the flow of immigrant labor and put it more under the control of employers and the government. And he indicated he is favorable to measures being discussed in the Senate to regularize the status of the approximately 12 million undocumented workers in the United States over time and with conditions such as hefty fines.

In an interview published in the New York Daily News two days earlier, Sen. Hillary Clinton, a Democratic Party presidential hopeful, outlined proposals to the right of Bush, such as building a wall along much of the U.S. border with Mexico.

“As for how to stem the tide of illegal immigrants, ‘A physical structure is obviously important,’ she [Clinton] said,” the News reported. “‘A wall in certain areas would be appropriate,’ as long as it was not a ‘dumb wall’ that could be scaled or tunneled. Advocating ‘smart fencing,’ she added, ‘There is technology that could be in the fence that would spot people coming from 250 or 300 yards away and signal patrol agents who could respond.’” The separation wall Tel Aviv is building between the West Bank and Israel might help guide Washington, Clinton stated.

The Democratic senator said she welcomes a crackdown by Washington on employers hiring undocumented immigrants. Such steps, along with “securing the border,” have to come first before any measures may be implemented to regularize the status of immigrants already in the United States, she added.

“We need to structure it as one piece of comprehensive legislation, with a staged implementation,” Clinton said, referring to the immigration debate in the Senate. The legalization process could begin “12 to 24 months” after border control measures take effect, she told the News.

Clinton joined other critics of the Bush administration faulting it for being “soft” and “incompetent” on law enforcement.

The conservative New York Post also criticized Bush for lack of enforcement of existing immigration laws. An article in its April 25 edition said that between 1995 and 1997, under the Clinton administration, federal agents carried out 10,000 to 18,000 worksite arrests of undocumented workers and 1,000 employers were served with fines for employing them. “Under the Bush administration, however, worksite arrests fell to 159 in 2004—with the princely total of three notices of intent to fine served on employers. Thus, worksite arrests under President Bush have fallen from Clintonian levels by something like 97 per cent—even though 9/11 occurred in the meantime,” the Post article stated.

A day earlier, speaking to an Orange County business group during a four-day visit to California, Bush sounded a different tone. “Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic,” Bush said. “You can hear people out there hollering it’s going to work. It’s not going to work,” he said.

Bush was responding to backers of House Resolution 4437, or the Sensenbrenner bill, passed by the House of Representatives in December on the initiative of his party. This bill would make it a felony to be in the country without proper documentation and penalize anyone aiding an undocumented immigrant. Orange County’s Republican Congressional delegation had supported this bill unanimously.

Boosting the number of border patrol cops and utilizing existing technology to police the frontier with Mexico is already being done well and will improve, Bush said. “The best way to enforce our border,” he added, “is to come up with a rational plan that recognizes people coming here to work and let them do so on a temporary basis.”

The president said his “guest worker” program would allow employers to have the option of hiring immigrants for jobs “Americans won’t do.” A “tamper proof” federal ID card these temporary workers would be required to carry would cut down the hiring of “illegals,” he said.

While rejecting calls for immediate legal status for the undocumented, Bush said that there should be a path to citizenship for immigrants already in the country, as long as they are placed last in the line of those applying. These workers would also have to “pay a penalty for being here illegally, commit him- or herself to learn English…and get in the back of the line.”

Versions of Bush’s proposals are included in an alternative measure the Senate is debating, introduced by senators John McCain, a Republican, and Edward Kennedy, a Democrat.
Related articles:
Immigration cops raid company, arrest 1,187 workers, deport 275
Immigrant rights rallies persist in U.S.
U.S. immigration rises to new levels, shifts from Europe to Asia and Latin America
Stop immigration raids, deportations
May Day originated in fight for eight-hour day in U.S.  
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