Bush eyes Democrats for help on amnesty dis­pute

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Stephen Di­nan

Pres­i­dent Bush on Nov. 8 said he will team up with Democrats to pass an im­mi­gra­tion bill with a guest­worker 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.

The­elec­tion­sre­movedtha­to­b­sta­cle by turn­ing con­trol of the House over to Democrats.

On Nov. 8, in an af­ter­noon press con­fer­ence, the pres­i­dent said he shares Democrats’ vi­sion on im­mi­gra­tio­nand­will­trya­gain­forabroad bill.

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

Ac­cord­ing­toReuter­snewsagency, a spokesman for Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent Vi­cen­teFox­cheeredDemocrats’suc­cess, say­ing it im­proves chances for get­ting a bill done.

And Democrats said the is­sue’s time has come.

“Withalign­ment­now­inCongress andtheWhiteHouse,thi­sisaunique op­por­tu­nity,” said Rep. Howard L. Ber­man, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, a se­niormem­beroftheHouseJu­di­ciary Com­mit­tee­an­daleaderon­theis­sue.

He said there are a num­ber of House Repub­li­cans who thought theiren­force­men­tap­proach­was­bad pol­icy but good pol­i­tics. He said that be­lief was shat­tered by the Nov. 7 elec­tions with the loss of two Repub­li­cans in Ari­zona — Randy Graf, a can­di­date­foraseat­n­earTuc­son,and Rep. J.D. Hay­worth, an in­cum­bent from Scotts­dale — who both ran heav­ily on op­po­si­tion to a guest­worker 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 heav­i­ly­on­bor­der­se­cu­rity,hop­ingthe is­sue could save him.

Repub­li­can­swhobackedMr.Bush on­theis­sue­saidthere­sult­sare­clear.

“Over the last two years, peo­ple who­have­been­in­my­po­si­tionon­im­mi­gra­tionhave­donewell,and­peo­ple who have been more ex­treme have donebadly,”saidRep.ChrisCan­non, 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, we­wouldn’teven­havet­hear­gu­ment of path­way to cit­i­zen­ship,” he said.

Mr. Can­non said Democrats will now get credit for solv­ing the prob­lem,and­saidMr.Tan­cre­dow­ill­beleft with “a soap­box to pound the liv­ing day­lights out of peo­ple who are scared of Amer­ica chang­ing.”

There­ar­estill­some­bighur­dlesto a bill pass­ing.

While Mr. Bush and most Democrats agree that many il­le­gal aliensshould­haveareg­u­lar­legal­sta­tus,akey­stick­ing­pointiswhether­future work­ers will also have a chance atc­i­t­i­zen­ship.TheSe­nate­bil­lal­lowed cit­i­zen­ship rights for those work­ers, but Mr. Bush has con­sis­tently re­jected that.

Im­mi­gra­tional­so­could­get­bogged down in 2008 pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics.

Mr. Can­non said he wor­ries Democrat­saretry­ing­tousetheis­sueto bait Mr. Tan­credo into a third-party can­di­dacy to split Repub­li­can votes.

“Ithink­the­goaloftheDemocrats 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 nom­i­na­tionin2008,and­saidNov.8hehas not­madead­e­ci­sion.Buthe­said­pun­dits 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 nega- tively 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-work­er­plan,saidRepub­li­cans 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 thana­con­vic­tion.”As­forMr.Graf,he had to fight both Democrats and Repub­li­cans, who poured money into the race try­ing to de­feat him in the pri­mary.

“We­knowwherethe­p­oll­sare;we sawtheDemocrat­srunon­bor­der­se­cu­rity,” 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.”

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