2007 Eugene Katz Award For Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration

Read the panel discussion transcript

Each year the Center for Immigration Studies reviews a wide range of reporting for the Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration. The purpose of the Katz Award is to promote informed and fair reporting on this contentious and complicated issue, and never has it been more needed.

Ordinarily, immigration policy is crafted outside the media limelight. Seemingly minor issues that will have significant long-term effects on the nation – like the 245(i) amnesty, granting of Temporary Protected Status, or raising the cap on H1b visas – usually draw scant media attention. This allows the lobbyists representing employers and racial-identity groups to shape policy to suit their narrow preferences without public scrutiny.

But every decade or so Congress moves to address the immigration issue in a broad, even “comprehensive,” fashion. This represents both a danger and an opportunity for the nation – a “comprehensive” approach to immigration creates the possibility of sweepingly bad laws, but also, by focusing more attention on the issue, offers the public a chance to make their own preferences felt.

The past year and a half has been one of these periods when lawmakers in Washington, and thus the national news media, focus a great deal of attention on immigration. At such times, knowledgeable reporting on the issue is essential, and this year’s Katz Award honoree has stood out in this regard. Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times has been writing about the political and legislative wrangling over immigration, among other topics, since he moved to the paper’s national desk in early 2002. Starting at the Times as an intern, Dinan eventually became congressional bureau chief, then went to cover the White House, and then was named a national political reporter. Due to his familiarity with the immigration issue, Dinan was brought back from covering the presidential campaigns as the immigration debate heated up. He has provided a depth and breadth of reporting on the congressional immigration debate that should be routine, given the central role that immigration plays in so many other policy areas, but unfortunately is not.

This award is named in memory of Eugene Katz, a native New Yorker who started his career, after Dartmouth and Oxford, as a reporter for the Daily Oklahoman. In 1928, he joined the family business, working as an advertising salesman for the Katz Agency, and in 1952 became president of Katz Communications, a half-billion-dollar firm which not only dealt in radio and television advertising but also owned and managed a number of radio stations. Mr. Katz was a member of the Center for Immigration Studies board until shortly after his 90th birthday in 1997. He passed away in 2000.

More information on the Katz Award, including previous winners, is available at https://www.cis.org/sites/cis.org/files/articles/Katz/katzintro.html

The Center for Immigration Studies is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute which examines and critiques the impact of immigration on the United States. It is animated by a pro-immigrant/low-immigration vision, but offers the Katz Award not to promote any point of view but rather to foster informed decision-making on an issue so central to America’s future.

Mark Krikorian
Executive Director
Center for Immigration Studies
June 2007

Stephen Dinan Articles

1. United on immigration; Democrats divide voters

2. Immigration bill moves to tighter enforcement; House Democrats woo GOP with 'touch back' concession

3. Mexico warns jobs key to halting illegals; Bush told' root causes' need reform

4. Bipartisan opinions sought on immigration; Kennedy denies GOP excluded

5. Bush builds bonds with House Democrats at retreat; Immigration and other issues provide "common ground" for consensus, they say

6. Tancredo begins White House bid; Plans to push immigration fight

7. Bush eyes Democrats for help on amnesty

8. Senate immigration deal forged; Bush hails citizenship, border plans

1. United on immigration; Democrats divide voters
April 23, 2007, Monday
825 words

In New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, the questions about immigration arise repeatedly - and Democratic presidential candidates say they know they are alienating some of their strongest supporters by calling for legalization of illegal aliens.

"It's a bad vote. It loses you votes. I've never found anybody that won on immigration," New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said this month at a town hall forum at New England College.

The issue has received far more attention among Republicans, but Democratic presidential candidates are facing the same polarizing questions.

While some of the top Republican candidates have begun to change their positions to appeal to conservative voters, Democratic candidates remain firmly behind legalization of most illegal aliens. Still, they are almost apologetic as they make their pitches.

"You can be in front of a very, very rabid Democratic crowd, and there will be a lot of people in the room who do not agree with what I just said," former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina said earlier this month in a speech at the University of New Hampshire as he defended his support for legalization. "The very same people .. are strongly against the war and strongly for universal health care So there is nowhere close to unanimity among Democrats about this issue"

But all of them support allowing illegal aliens to gain legal status and eventually be eligible for citizenship if they pay back taxes, pay a fine and pass a background check. They also support a proposed guest-worker program that would allow foreign workers to come to the United States and take a path to citizenship. All of them couple that with calls for more border security, and some of them stress the need to crack down on employers as well.

Advisers to several candidates said privately that Mr. Richardson is in a good position to attack the other candidates on their support of building more fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who are running for the Democratic presidential nomination, voted last year for the Secure Fence Act, which sponsors say mandates 854 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Hispanic and immigrant rights groups argue that the proposed fencing is insulting and probably ineffective.

Mr. Richardson ridicules the idea. "I would not have this stupid wall between Mexico and the United States," he said.

Richardson campaign spokesman Pahl Shipley said the governor will let his immigration positions be known, but will not use the issue "for meaningless partisan political rhetoric." He said Mr. Richardson instead will talk about what he supports: increasing the U.S. Border Patrol force, adding technology and working with Mexico.

"He believes the majority of Americans agree with that position and don't believe that building a fence is the right thing to do. It will not work, and it sends the wrong message - an un-American message," Mr. Shipley said.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, has been on both sides of the fence issue. He voted against a Senate amendment that would have required a total of 370 miles of border fence and another 500 miles of vehicle barriers, but later voted for the Secure Fence Act.

The Democrats are careful to emphasize that their approaches do not amount to amnesty because they propose fines and other penalties for illegal aliens applying for green cards and require a lawful permanent residence as a steppingstone to citizenship.

Democrats receive some of the strongest applause when they announce that they support English skills as a requirement for legalization.

"I think they ought to learn to speak English," Mr. Edwards said, drawing appreciation from the crowd at the University of New Hampshire.

Former Vice President Al Gore, who has said he is not running in 2008, may have the best chance to capture voters who favor increased restrictions.

Americans for Better Immigration, which opposes legalization of aliens, graded Mr. Gore an A-minus for his votes in Congress. The group gave a D to both Mr. Edwards and Mr. Obama, and graded Mrs. Clinton a D-minus.

Democrats may be more united because the issue doesn't affect their voters the same way as it does Republicans.

A University of Iowa poll of likely Republican caucus-goers found that 63 percent rated immigration a "very important" issue, compared with 38 percent of likely Democrat caucus-goers. The poll of 1,290 Iowans - including 298 likely Democratic caucus-goers and 178 likely Republican caucus-goers - was conducted March 19 to 31. The margin of error was 5.5 percent for Democrats and 6.5 percent for Republicans.

Still, some politicians say Republicans are reading the issue the wrong way.

Among both Republicans and Democrats, more than half of likely caucus-goers said they supported allowing "undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain criteria like learning English and paying back taxes."

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2. Immigration bill moves to tighter enforcement; House Democrats woo GOP with 'touch back' concession
March 23, 2007, Friday
747 words

The chief House proponents of a path to citizenship for illegal aliens yesterday also embraced stricter enforcement, arguing they need to move that direction if they hope to pass a bill this year.

They introduced a new immigration overhaul that still grants almost all illegal aliens a path to citizenship, but would also speed up the requirement that they learn English, make them leave the country before they can start the path to citizenship, and make the entire program turn on the government showing it is making progress on border security and interior law enforcement.

With Democrats now in control in the House, the bill marks the first step in a renewed push to get immigration reform passed and says much about how far the debate has come since Congress deadlocked last year and the elections intervened.

"The third time is the charm. The planets are finally aligned to get this done," said Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, who is joining Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, in sponsoring the bill.

Chief among the concessions is what sponsors call a "touch back" provision that requires illegal aliens, before obtaining permanent legal residency that puts them on a path to citizenship, to leave the country and then come back legally - a standard they could meet by going back to their home countries, or to Mexico or Canada for a day.

That change was a major step, designed to win Republican support.

"We've reached out to make sure we get bipartisan support for this bill," Mr. Gutierrez said, adding that they will need dozens of Republicans to obtain a majority in the House. "I know that on a good day I get 180 Democrats, and that's short of 218, and that's on a good day."

But plenty of Republicans are lining up in opposition, arguing that it is an amnesty because it lets illegal aliens remain and gives them a path to citizenship.

"It's going to get the scarlet letter 'A' branded on the bill, and then the debate becomes who wants to get that brand and go back home and face voters," said Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee.

From the other side of the political spectrum a key Democratic ally, the AFL-CIO, said while the bill is better than an enforcement-only approach such as the bill House Republicans pursued last year, it is not sold. The labor federation opposed the "touch back" provision, and argued that allowing 400,000 more foreign workers a year will hurt U.S. workers.

The measure would:

* Require the Homeland Security Department to certify it has created a secure card for employers to identify legal workers, and to certify border security and interior enforcement are advancing.

* Let illegal aliens here as of June 1, 2006, remain in the country under a six-year work program, paying a $500 fine at the beginning and another $1,500 fine at the end. After six years, if they had maintained a work history and clean criminal record, they could gain a green card, or permanent residency.

* Speed the requirement of proving English skills up to the green card process, rather than at the time they apply for citizenship.

* Allow illegal aliens to obtain in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

* Allow 400,000 new workers into the country per year, though it would protect American jobs by requiring employers to show they cannot find an American worker and prove the foreign workers wouldn't depress wages. Those new workers would also have a path to citizenship.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who had supported previous versions of the Flake-Gutierrez bill, has not signed on to this one. Yesterday, she said it was a good "framework" but focused her attention on President Bush, who she said should embrace the new bill's approach.

Parts of the bill are likely to please Mr. Bush, including a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. But last year he embraced the Senate bill that allowed only those who had lived here the longest or, in Mr. Bush's words, had "deep roots," to achieve citizenship. And he has steadfastly rejected giving future foreign workers a path to citizenship.

By moving first, the House sponsors have also highlighted a division in the Senate, where backers are sparring over what to include in their bill.

But Mr. Gutierrez said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, has carved out the last two weeks in May to have a floor debate on immigration - which sets a timetable for the Senate Judiciary Committee to act.

Copyright © 2006/2007, The Washington Times LLC. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization.


3. Mexico warns jobs key to halting illegals; Bush told' root causes' need reform
March 13, 2007, Tuesday
725 words

As President Bush prepares to meet today with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Mr. Calderon and his government are increasingly making it clear the solution to the U.S. illegal immigration problem lies in Mexico.

"I will say this very clearly - comprehensive immigration reform in the United States starts in Mexico," Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico's new ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview last week in Washington previewing this week's meeting.

"Unless Mexico is able to generate the type of economic growth, job creation, well-paid job creation, we will still have a difficult time, even though there's a comprehensive immigration agreement [in the United States], to dampen the root causes that propel so many Mexicans to seek a better life across the border," Mr. Sarukhan told The Washington Times.

This two-day visit might be the linchpin of Mr. Bush's five-country Latin American trip. Mr. Calderon, like Mr. Bush, heads a right-of-center party, and has taken some big steps in his less than four months in office by taking on organized crime and drug-related violence.

As a free-market advocate, he is also in a position to counterbalance Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose "21st-century socialism" has spread to other Latin American countries.

In a surprise move, Mr. Calderon sent more than a dozen drug cartel and gang leaders who were being held in Mexican prisons to the U.S. to stand trial. He also has sent federal police and the military to several regions to clamp down on violence between rival drug gangs.

Now, as he prepares to meet Mr. Bush for the first time as president, Mr. Calderon will not press for a U.S. immigration bill but instead make the case for trying to keep Mexicans home in the first place, according to the Associated Press.

"It won't be easy. It won't be fast, but yes, it is possible," Mr. Calderon said.

To do that, he wants to draw more foreign investment into Mexico to create jobs there.

One of his proposals is to retool the North American Development Bank, which was created by Mexico and the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement to try to alleviate any negative consequences of free trade, particularly on the environment, along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mr. Calderon wants the bank to grow in order to finance infrastructure throughout Mexico, and Mr. Sarukhan said that's an example of a development idea the Mexican leader could raise with Mr. Bush.

"The basic idea is that instead of having the labor force of Mexico come up to where the investment is in the United States, to make sure foreign direct investment is reaching Mexico where the labor force is," Mr. Sarukhan said.

Mr. Calderon has even won praise from a fierce critic of the Mexican government - Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican.

"President Calderon has shown through his relatively short tumultuous time in office that he may be the agent of change that region of the world so desperately needs," said Mr. Tancredo, who is making a bid for his party's presidential nomination.

"I find it particularly interesting that when Presidents Bush and Calderon meet [this] week, one of them will be pushing for amnesty. Oddly enough, it won't be the Mexican president," he said.

Mr. Bush has proposed legalizing most of the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens now in the United States - more than half of whom are Mexican. He has also proposed a new guest-worker program to handle future workers.

For their part, Mexican officials hope Mr. Bush can do more to crack down on the flow of weapons and ingredients for manufactured drugs such as amphetamines, which go from the United States to Mexico.

"Calderon's administration is as serious as it can be in starting to take organized crime head on, but for it to be successful at the end of the day, it will need the full-fledged support of the United States," Mr. Sarukhan said.

He said there has been an interesting shift in relations between the two countries. In the past, while top-level officials had a good relationship, the law-enforcement agencies on the ground along the border "completely distrusted each other."

But in recent years, he said, trust has been built - starting with specially vetted Mexican units establishing a good relationship - to where "on the ground interagency coordination to Mexico and the United States is where it never has been before."

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4. Bipartisan opinions sought on immigration; Kennedy denies GOP excluded
March 2, 2007, Friday
607 words

Far from being secretive, the top senator drafting the major Senate immigration bill this year says he has invited a host of senators to help out and has kept the Bush administration in the loop the entire time, despite accusations to the contrary.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the immigration subcommittee, has held several meetings with lawmakers, including a recent one with top Republican and Democratic senators on the issue. He also talked with President Bush in January and last week spoke with White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten about the bill, Mr. Kennedy's office says.

"I look forward to introducing a comprehensive immigration reform bill with Sen. John McCain and our House colleagues in the coming weeks and continuing to work with the bipartisan coalition behind the legislation that passed the Senate last year," Mr. Kennedy said yesterday.

On Wednesday, Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, used the committee's first immigration hearing of the year to publicly accuse Mr. Kennedy of leaving him and his staff out of the process.

"I have been concerned about reading what is happening behind the scenes in the newspapers," Mr. Specter said. He called his comment a "word of caution" to Mr. Kennedy and said he needs to cooperate if he hopes to earn Republican support.

Democrats will need that Republican support to pass a bill in the Senate.

Mr. Kennedy is drafting a new measure with Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, and two House members: Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, and Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat.

Mr. Kennedy's office says they are reaching out to the bipartisan coalition that helped pass a broad bill, 62-36, in the Senate last year. That bill offered a path to citizenship to most illegal aliens and created a new program for immigrant workers to come in the future.

House Republican leaders called it an amnesty and refused to consider it, instead forcing through a measure to build hundreds of miles of two-tier fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In drafting the new bill, Mr. Kennedy's office said staffers are in regular contact with other offices, and have had three meetings with White House staff to go over bill details. In addition, Mr. Kennedy and Mr. McCain had a meeting Feb. 15 that included Mr. Specter and the Senate's Hispanic members: Sens. Mel Martinez, Florida Republican, Ken Salazar, Colorado Democrat and Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat.

Six other senators, all of whom supported last year's bill, were invited but did not attend: Sam Brownback, Kansas Republican, Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican; Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent; Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat and Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and the chairman of the full Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Kennedy's spokeswoman, Laura Capps, said the senators did discuss specific provisions at the recent meeting. She also said the sponsors plan to circulate a draft before they officially introduce a bill, but said the final version will be the work of the four chief sponsors.

Yesterday, though, Mr. Specter repeated his accusation.

"We have not been a party to the drafting of the bill. It's surprising and disquieting," he said. He also said he tried to work in a bipartisan way when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee last year to try to get a bill done.

But one staffer involved in the negotiations said Mr. Specter had "zero consultation" last year before he, as chairman of the committee, drafted his own bill and dropped it on the committee.

"It's completely hypocritical," the staffer said.

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5. Bush builds bonds with House Democrats at retreat;
Immigration and other issues provide "common ground" for consensus, they say
February 4, 2007, Sunday
794 words

President Bush and House Democrats got off to a good start in finding common ground yesterday at the Democrats' annual retreat - with Mr. Bush saying they even share a bond in having been shot in the back by Republicans on immigration.

"You are not the only one with arrows in your back," the president said during a closed-door question-and-answer session with the House Democratic Caucus, according to two individuals who were in the room.

He was responding to Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, who said Republicans had been merciless during last year's elections in attacking Democrats on border security. He asked Mr. Bush to win more Republican support for the Democrats' preferred bill.

To a round of applause, the president said he will fight for a bill that does not deport illegal aliens. Mr. Bush said it would be a mistake to miss the opportunity for reform this year and let the issue enter the 2008 election campaign, when he worried it would become too political.

Immigration is one issue on which Mr. Bush may fare better with Democrats in control than with his own party. But, dependent on Democrats for his final two years, the president has made overtures on a host of other issues during the past month that he hopes can come to fruition under the new regime.

Yesterday, Democratic leaders said he convinced them he wants to work with them on some issues.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat, said Mr. Bush's ac

knowledgment of global warming in his State of the Union address and of growing "income inequality" in a speech on Wall Street last week both bode well, as did his admission that the Iraq war isn't going well and his early steps to increase education spending.

"We had plenty of common ground, which the president was willing to acknowledge," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said after the session.

During her introduction, she invoked Lincoln's second inaugural address calling for reconciliation between the North and South "with malice toward none, with charity for all."

She said Democrats can work with Mr. Bush on what she called the "three i's" - immigration, energy independence and innovation for the economy.

The president broke the ice with Democrats by explaining his use of the term "Democrat Party" during his State of the Union address last month. The phrase had angered some lawmakers, who consider it a slur.

"Look, my diction isn't all that good," Mr. Bush explained, drawing chuckles. "I have been accused of occasionally mangling the English language, and so, I appreciate you inviting the head of the Republic Party."

The president assured Democrats he doesn't question their patriotism for disagreeing with his Iraq policy.

"You can get that thought out of your mind, if that's what some believe," he said, to a smattering of applause.

That's a change from the past, when Mr. Bush has wondered whether his political opponents would "forget the lessons of September 11th." And it's a sharp departure from the midterm campaign last year, when Republicans accused Democrats of favoring a "cut-and-run" strategy.

The president drew the biggest applause when he talked about spending on AIDS in Africa and keeping pressure on Sudan to find a solution to the mass killing and displacement in the Darfur region of that northeast African nation.

He faced six questions during the closed portion, including why his new Iraq plan would succeed when past troop surges have failed, what he plans to do about the size of the national debt, and whether he would agree to mandatory caps on carbon emissions to curb global warming.

Mr. Bush didn't outright reject caps, but said his focus on technology is a smarter approach. He also said Kyoto treaty-style caps, such as ones that Europeans have adopted, have failed and said fast-growing Asian countries won't participate in that solution, anyway, leaving technology as the only path.

Mr. Bush also was asked why he didn't mention Hurricane Katrina or veterans during his State of the Union address. He compared those issues to the national park system, saying he didn't talk about it either, but still considers it important.

One person in the room said Mr. Bush "sounded very defensive" on Katrina.

It was the first time since 2001 that the president addressed one of the Democratic caucus' annual retreats. He spoke to both House and Senate Democrats that year.

Mr. Bush was so warmly received yesterday that he stayed in the room to shake hands for a half-hour after he was done answering questions.

Protesters weren't allowed at the King's Mill resort, where the gathering took place, but they congregated on a corner just outside the complex.

"Stop funding; start impeaching; mandate peace" read the painted slogan on the back of one panel truck driving the streets nearby.

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6. Tancredo begins White House bid; Plans to push immigration fight
January 17, 2007, Wednesday
520 words

Rep. Tom Tancredo yesterday formed a committee to explore a run for the Republican nomination for president, hoping to force the issue of immigration into the primary debates and push the candidates to embrace stricter enforcement.

"As I look at the current presidential candidates Republican and Democratic I simply do not see one who reflects the grass-roots, majority belief of Americans that our borders must be secured, that employers who hire illegals must be prosecuted, and that no one who has broken our immigration laws should ever be put on a 'pathway to citizenship,' Mr. Tancredo wrote in his first fundraising letter.

The Colorado Republican's political rise has tracked closely with the immigration issue, which went from being a "sleeper" issue to a dominant part of the 2006 congressional campaigns. Mr. Tancredo on Monday ruled out a run for the U.S. Senate seat that will open in 2008 with the retirement of Sen. Wayne Allard.

Mr. Tancredo, 61, has spent time during the past two years traveling in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. He said at the time that those trips were designed to put the issue of immigration on the minds of voters and said he would only enter the race if no credible candidate stepped in to represent the immigration-enforcement approach.

Yesterday, Mr. Tancredo said nobody has picked up the banner.

Bay Buchanan, a friend and confidante of Mr. Tancredo's who runs his political action committee, Team America, said that immigration is the issue that will help Mr. Tancredo stand out from the pack of candidates. She also said his record, consistently conservative up and down the line, will go over well with Iowa's pro-life, conservative caucusgoers.

"He is an across-the-board social conservative one that the Christian right can feel completely comfortable with, that he has been with them on those issues for his whole life," she said.

His advisers say Mr. Tancredo will not raise the sort of money that Republican heavyweights Sen. John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney expect to raise. Advisers to Mr. Romney say their target is $70 million this year, while a campaign document from Mr. Giuliani says his target is $100 million.

Mr. Tancredo is in the smaller-budget group that includes Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

But Mr. Tancredo stands out from that pack because he brings to the race a dedicated army of talk-radio show hosts and activists who oppose illegal immigration.

"His strength is that he already has a national following. He has enormous grass-roots support. He is well-known across this country by the Republican base," said Mrs. Buchanan, who was chairman in all three of her brother Pat Buchanan's presidential campaigns.

She said Mr. Tancredo's candidacy should excite those who supported Mr. Buchanan in 1992 and 1996, but said that as a five-term congressman, Mr. Tancredo also brings his own national following.

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7. Bush eyes Democrats for help on amnesty
November 9, 2006, Thursday
828 words

President Bush yesterday said he will team up with Democrats to pass an immigration bill with a guest-worker program that his own party blocked this year, and his Republican opponents predicted a bloody intraparty fight but said they cannot stop such a bill from passing.

"We will fight it, we will lose. It will go to the Senate, it will pass. The president will sign it. And it will happen quickly because that's one thing they know they can pass," said Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican and chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, who had led the opposition to a guest-worker plan. "I am absolutely horrified by this prospect, but I have to face reality."

Mr. Bush supported a bipartisan majority in the Senate this year that passed a broad immigration bill including a new worker program and citizenship rights for millions of illegal aliens. But House Republicans blocked those efforts, calling them an amnesty, and instead forced through a bill to erect nearly 700 miles of fencing] along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Tuesday's elections removed that obstacle by turning control of the House over to Democrats.

Yesterday, in an afternoon press conference, the president said he shares Democrats' vision on immigration and will try again for a broad bill.

"There's an issue where I believe we can find some common ground with the Democrats," he said.

According to Reuters news agency, a spokesman for Mexican President Vicente Fox cheered Democrats' success, saying it improves chances for getting a bill done.

And Democrats said the issue's time has come.

"With alignment now in Congress and the White House, this is a unique opportunity," said Rep. Howard L. Berman, California Democrat, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and a leader on the issue.

He said there are a number of House Republicans who thought their enforcement approach was bad policy but good politics. He said that belief was shattered by Tuesday's elections with the loss of two Republicans in Arizona - Randy Graf, a candidate for a seat near Tucson, and Rep. J.D. Hayworth, an incumbent from Scottsdale - who both ran heavily on opposition to a guest-worker program.

Other losses included Rep. John Hostettler, the Indiana Republican who was chairman of the immigration subcommittee, and Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who ran heavily on border security, hoping the issue could save him.

Republicans who backed Mr. Bush on the issue said the results are clear.

"Over the last two years, people who have been in my position on immigration have done well, and people who have been more extreme have done badly," said Rep. Chris Cannon, a Utah Republican who backs a guest-worker plan.

He said Republicans goofed by not passing a bill, because they will now be forced to accept Democratic legislation far closer to amnesty.

"If we'd done this as Republicans, we wouldn't even have the argument of pathway to citizenship," he said.

Mr. Cannon said Democrats will now get credit for solving the problem, and said Mr. Tancredo will be left with "a soapbox to pound the living daylights out of people who are scared of America changing."

There are still some big hurdles to a bill passing.

While Mr. Bush and most Democrats agree that many illegal aliens should have a regular legal status, a key sticking point is whether future workers will also have a chance at citizenship. The Senate bill allowed citizenship rights for those workers, but Mr. Bush has consistently rejected that.

Immigration also could get bogged down in 2008 presidential politics.

Mr. Cannon said he worries Democrats are trying to use the issue to bait Mr. Tancredo into a third-party candidacy to split Republican votes.

"I think the goal of the Democrats is not going to be good legislation, I think it's going to be empowering a third-party candidate," he said.

Mr. Tancredo has been considering a run for the Republican nomination in 2008, and said yesterday he has not made a decision. But he said pundits will take the wrong lesson from his party's election-night losses.

"The results of this election, although they did not occur as a result of the immigration issue, will negatively affect our cause more than anybody ever anticipated," he said.

Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who wants a crackdown on illegal immigration and opposes a guest-worker plan, said Republicans didn't lose because of immigration but in spite of it.

He said Mr. Santorum came late to the issue and "it looked like it was a political position for him rather than a conviction." As for Mr. Graf, he had to fight both Democrats and Republicans, who poured money into the race trying to defeat him in the primary.

"We know where the polls are; we saw the Democrats run on border security," Mr. King said.

He vowed to redouble his efforts to fight a guest-worker bill, but said he also sees Mr. Bush signing whatever Congress sends over: "It'll be hard for him to resist a bill that will be put on his desk by a new Democratic majority."

Copyright © 2006/2007, The Washington Times LLC. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization.


8. Senate immigration deal forged; Bush hails citizenship, border plans
May 18, 2007, Friday
979 words

Senators and the Bush administration yesterday reached an immigration deal that offers a multistep path to citizenship to millions of illegal aliens in exchange for better border security and a new way of choosing how future immigrants are selected.

The agreement, reached behind closed doors after months of talks among a small group of Republicans, Democrats and Bush Cabinet secretaries, created little enthusiasm for the negotiators, but those involved said it is the only chance for immigration reform to pass this year.

"This is the best I think that can be done with an enormous effort on a bipartisan basis," said Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican and one of the top negotiators.

Whether it is enough to win on the Senate floor next week is in doubt. Support seemed to crumble even as the deal was announced.

Conservative Republicans argued that the bill rewards illegal activity, while liberal Democrats said it is too draconian toward illegal aliens and too restrictive for future workers.

The plan, which was still being finalized, allows the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the United States to come forward and receive probationary status. Meanwhile, the government would continue to build fencing and vehicle barriers on the Mexico border, hire more immigration officers and institute better checks on employers.

Once the security improvements are complete, aliens on probation could apply for a proposed Z visa, putting them on the path to citizenship. They would have to return home at some point to apply for the intermediate step of obtaining a green card.

The plan would create a temporary worker system. Foreigners would be able to work two years before returning home for a year, for up to three cycles. The plan would create an immigration point system based on education, work skills and English proficiency, alongside a redesigned family reunification system.

The deal is a reversal for President Bush on several points: It does not require payment of back taxes, it allows future guest workers to bring families in some cases, and it eliminates last year's requirement that only illegal aliens with "roots" who have been here for some time have a path to citizenship.

The president called immigration "a tough issue for a lot of Americans," but said he was pleased with the deal.

"The agreement reached today is one that will help enforce our borders, but equally importantly, it will treat people with respect," he said after being briefed by his Cabinet secretaries. "This is a bill where people who live here in our country will be treated without amnesty, but without animosity."

Members of his own party said amnesty is exactly what the agreement delivers.

"This rewards people who broke the law with permanent legal status, and puts them ahead of millions of law-abiding immigrants waiting to come to America," said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican. "I don't care how you try to spin it, this is amnesty."

Those convicted of serious crimes would not be eligible for the path to citizenship, though negotiators said they expect most illegal aliens to qualify. Final legalization wouldn't take place until the security "triggers" are met.

Under the plan, all workers, including U.S. citizens, will have to be verified as legal workers by their employers. For noncitizens, that means using a tamper-proof ID. For U.S. citizens, it means a driver's license, passport or other government-issued ID.

"This plan isn't perfect, but it is a strong agreement and a good solution," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the top Democratic negotiator.

All but forgotten is last year's immigration bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 62-36 but never received a vote in the House. That bill split illegal aliens into groups based on their time in the United States, with those here the longest guaranteed a path to citizenship and those here less than two years being forced to go home.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, left his presidential campaign trail to return for the announcement, joining six other Republicans, Mr. Kennedy, two other Democrats and the two Cabinet secretaries for a press conference.

Republican voters have criticized Mr. McCain for what they see as his support of amnesty, and the senator pressed for fast action to try to limit the political damage.

"We all know this issue can be caught up in extracurricular politics unless we move forward as quickly as possible," he said.

Mr. DeMint and other Republicans are pushing to draw out the debate in hopes that voters will become disenchanted with it. They said the bill was written behind closed doors by a hand-picked group of senators, rather than going through the usual committee process.

"It's disappointing and even ironic how the deal announced today skirts the democratic processes of Congress," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican.

He complained that the floor debate starts Monday, even though a cost estimate hadn't been announced and a final text not released as of yesterday afternoon.

Even those who were part of what they called the "grand bargain" were confused.

At one point during the announcement, Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said he hoped the agriculture workers proposal known as "Ag-Jobs" would be included - drawing a chorus of "it's in" from his colleagues.

Conspicuously absent from the announcement were Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and a strong proponent of immigrant rights, and Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, who split with Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, after years of working on a bill with him.

Mr. Cornyn called the announcement "premature" because it was made without specific text of the bill.

"This is clearly a case where the broad principles people have talked about are good, at least in some respects, but then we have to get to the actual language," he said.

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