Foreign Policy Blogs

"Comprehensive Immigration Reform" and Politics

President Bush will take a ride near the US-Mexico Border today near Yuma, Arizona in a further attempt to create support for his "comprehensive immigration reform". With the upcoming presidential primaries, Bush is seeking support from the anti-immigration right of the Republican Party in order to produce one of his last significant policy initiatives before the end of his term in office.

Support for Bush's immigration reform is made up of a series of soft and hard immigration policies: doubling the number of border guards, funding hundreds of miles of border fence, progress in cracking down on illegal hiring of undocumented workers by employers. While these new policies are hoped to gain support from the Republicans, a softer line on immigration might hurt Bush's chances at support. With the idea of a new guest worker program, Bush hopes to solve the issue of 11-12 million illegal immigrants that currently reside and work in the US. While his policies hope to gain support from both the Republicans and Democrats, politics may have more influence than any policy Mr. Bush could develop.

The new guest worker program tries to strike a balance between politicians from all sides of the immigration debate. For the guest worker program, it does not provide for any advantages over other immigration methods, but does allow a manner in which current illegal aliens can apply to be US citizens. To be successful in the program is not an easy chore however. Guest worker candidates would have to start at the beginning of the process for citizenship, would have to pay heavy fines for the years they have been in the country, would have to show that they have held a job while in the US, and would have to pay full back taxes on their earnings and pass an English exam. Their families would also not be able to claim citizenship under the new program if their relative gained their immigration status.

The pressure to balance political interests is not only an issue for the Bush administration.  Senator Edward Kennedy who needs to satisfy interests of his party offered an amnesty for illegal immigrants and a liberal guest worker programs for those future immigrants. While his policies may do more to liberalise Bush's comprehensive immigration reform than be successful on their own, much of the immigration reform is likely to be tied up in politics than produce any concrete policy in the near future.



Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration