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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Is There a Guest Worker in the House? 

In my previous entry (21st Century Slave Zoid Man), I alluded to a Denver Post article (by Anne C. Mulkern). This was discussed for an hour on yesterday's John and Ken show, and will probably be discussed again today. Here are some excerpts from Mulkern's article:

Republican leaders will try to pass President Bush's controversial guest-worker proposal without putting it to a direct vote in the House.

Observers say the new GOP strategy that begins today is for the House to deal only with the more politically palatable issue of increasing border security and clamping down on employers. Republican leaders then will let the Senate pass some form of a guest-worker plan.

After that vote, senators and House members will merge the House's border security bill with the Senate's legislation in closed-door meetings.

Officially, that's not the story, according to AP:

The House is to vote next week on legislation that strengthens border security and requires workplace enforcement of immigration law but does not offer a guest worker program, a goal of President Bush and many in Congress.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who crafted the bill, said he supports a guest worker program....But he said that without a clear consensus on what that program would entail, "I believe it is wise to move cautiously."...

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has pledged to consider immigration reform in February. Frist, R-Tenn., said his plan is to introduce a border security bill and use that as a base to debate guest worker ideas....

Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., a leading proponent of taking up a comprehensive bill, questioned the strategy of leaving the guest worker issue for another day.

"Enforcement alone will not work," he said, noting that border crossings continue to rise despite a tenfold increase in resources along the border. "It also does not address the millions of people already here and living in the shadows."...

The L.A. Times has a different spin on Sensenbrenner's inactions:

Some analysts saw Sensenbrenner's measure as the first step in a complex White House strategy intended to secure the sort of comprehensive reform Bush is seeking without splitting the party over the politically sensitive issue of immigration.

"This has been in the works for a while now — that the House would come up with an enforcement-only bill despite the president's expressed desire to do something different," said Tamar Jacoby, an analyst at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. "This is the first step in a bigger process."

House Republicans, who have been plagued by ethics scandals and disagreements over tax cuts, hurricane reconstruction efforts, deficit spending and other issues, are determined to end the year on an upbeat note, Jacoby said.

They hope to do so by rallying around Sensenbrenner's bill, which they expect to play well with constituents alarmed by what they consider the nation's failure to control its borders.

Debate on the bill, however, could become contentious among Republicans.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), leader of GOP House members who oppose guest-worker programs, told acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that he intended to push for dozens of amendments — many of them controversial — when the bill comes to the floor Dec. 15.

One measure would authorize the start of construction of a security wall along the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Another would eliminate birth-right citizenship for children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants....

Bush's hopes for creating a guest-worker program rest with the Senate, which is expected to take up immigration reform in February. Several senators have put forward guest-worker proposals that they say they will attempt to attach to any legislation beefing up border security.

One plan by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) would require illegal workers to return to their native countries and apply from there for a job in the United States. It would offer them only temporary visas and no path to citizenship.

Another measure, sponsored by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) would allow workers now here who met certain criteria to pay a fine and gain permanent residency.

Randy Johnson, vice president for labor and immigration at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the group disliked the provision in Sensenbrenner's bill that would require employers to verify the citizenship status of their employees. But he said he was optimistic that the Senate would pass immigration legislation that included a guest-worker program....

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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