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"Not in the mood for guests"

U.S. News discusses Bush's "guest worker" plan:

Back in 2001, George W. Bush, a newly elected president from a border state, had immigration on his mind. Within weeks of his inauguration, Bush vowed to extend a hand to Mexico, making an ambitious guest-worker proposal a hallmark of his administration. The president's dream was dashed by 9/11; tightening border controls, not loosening them, became the priority. He must have been serious, though, because just weeks after winning a second term, Bush has embraced the guest-worker proposal anew. Secretary of State Colin Powell and White House counselor Karl Rove have called the initiative a high priority. And Bush pledged to renew his push for the legislation in a talk with Mexican President Vicente Fox at the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference.

But Bush faces opposition in his own party--from border-state voters and House Republicans. In late November, conservatives derailed intelligence-reform legislation in part by refusing to get behind a bill that did not include strict immigration proposals. The president has made much of his willingness to spend political capital, but this issue may prove prohibitively expensive...

Bush faces an even tougher crowd in the next Congress. Seven new con-servatives will join the Senate, and in the House, Tancredo's group will be 75 members strong. In mid-November, 22 House Republicans, led by California's Elton Gallegly, signed a letter urging the administration to give up the guest-worker proposal. On the intelligence reform bill, the House Republican leaders refused to back down until the 11th hour on proposals that would have made it easier to deport aliens and deny them driver's licenses. "These people looked the administration in the eye and said, 'Drop dead,' " says Mark Krikorian, who runs a conservative immigration reform group...

...Administration officials say Bush really believes in the guest-worker idea, and there is speculation that he wants to reward the estimated 34 to 44 percent of Hispanic voters who supported him. His ability to bring home a win may depend on how much he's ready to risk. Gallegly says he respects the president but adds that if Bush insists on peeving House Republicans early in his term, he could put his entire agenda at risk. "Washington," says Gallegly, " is a land of grudges."

Immigration2004 · Tue, 11/30/2004 - 09:03 · Importance: 1