President Bush returned Monday to a topic he has considered in the past: Mexican immigration. In a speech given to customs, immigration and border patrol officers in Tuscon, Ariz., Bush outlined a program that stressed tougher borders and a temporary-worker program.
Bush said his guest worker program would grant undocumented workers already in the U.S. three-year visas that could be renewed for another three years. After the six years, workers would have to return to their homeland and apply for legal immigration.
“The American people should not have to choose between a welcoming society and a lawful society. We can have both,” Bush said.
This is not the first time that Bush has presented this plan, and in the past both Republicans and Democrats have been critical of it.
The American people are not supportive of it either. A Jan. 2004 Gallup Poll showed that 55 percent of Americans disagreed with the plan and 74 percent said that the U.S. should not make it easier for illegal immigrants to obtain citizenship.
Some critics say it rewards illegal activity by granting immunity to those who have already managed to enter the country. Many Republicans want to deal with enforcement issues first and then talk about a worker program.
I understand concern over the vulnerability of our southern border and the potential access it allows terrorists.
But I also worked with Mexican immigrants for about five years of my life, and I know that they are people just like you and me.
In fact, I went and visited a couple of these friends over the Thanksgiving holiday while I was home.
They want a job that pays them good money, and they don’t want to live here permanently.
From my experience, they are usually here living with several family members, sending money home each month and working as a family toward the day when they can move back to Mexico and live comfortably.
And they’re not taking jobs that most Americans want. The same 2004 Gallup Poll found that 77 percent of Americans didn’t think immigrants were taking jobs that U.S. workers wanted.
I’m not sure if everyone understands the work it would take to expose and deport all of these illegal workers.
And once we did, who would fill their jobs and perform the menial tasks that these workers often do?
I find it strange to say this, but I support Bush’s plan. I think it is a step in the right direction for a country that was founded on immigration.
They want the jobs and we need people willing to do them. Let’s stop the flow, regulate the workforce we currently have, and work to build a humanitarian partnership with our southern neighbors.