WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 — President Bush will propose a sweeping overhaul of the nation's immigration laws on Wednesday that could give legal status to millions of undocumented workers in the United States, senior administration officials said Tuesday night.
Under Mr. Bush's proposal, which effectively amounts to an amnesty program for illegal immigrants with jobs in the United States, an undocumented worker could apply for temporary worker status here for an unspecified number of years, with all the employee benefits, like minimum wage and due process, accorded to those legally employed.
Workers who are approved would be permitted to travel freely between the United States and their home countries, the officials said, and would also be permitted to apply for a green card granting permanent residency in the United States.
Administration officials said that Mr. Bush would also propose increasing the number of green cards issued each year, which is now about 140,000, but they did not provide a specific number. The administration officials, who briefed reporters in a conference call on Tuesday night, said only that Mr. Bush would ask for a "reasonable increase."
I think immigration is a good thing. If I were benevolent dictator, I'd focus on increasing legal documented immigration in reasonable ways, without relegating the immigrants to "guest worker" status with their visas tied up too closely with their jobs. We can debate about the details, but the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned - particularly if the immigrants have legal protections.
I understand why some object to an amnestyish program which rewards those who "broke the law" while punishing those who obeyed the rules by putting them at the back of the line. Fine - put them at the front of the line!