The Magazine

Bordering on a Victory

Bush may still do well with immigration reform.

Apr 24, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 30 • By FRED BARNES
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In his radio address, the president never mentioned the words "earned citizenship" or even the concept. He took pains to insist that his "temporary worker program" did not constitute amnesty for illegals. Amnesty, he said, would be "unwise because it would encourage others to break the laws and create new waves of illegal immigration. We must ensure that those who break our laws are not granted an automatic path to citizenship."

But the president did say America "must remain a welcoming society." And as he often does, Bush spoke of today's illegal immigrants as people who come to America for the right reasons. "It says something about our country that people around the world are willing to leave their homes, leave their families, and risk everything to come to America," he said.

When Congress returns, Bush may have no choice but to campaign energetically for passage of a broad immigration bill. "Republicans run Congress, and the pro-immigrant side has won the debate," says Bell. The situation is ripe for presidential intervention.

Bush has privately assured the pro-immigrant crowd he's on their side. But publicly he's endorsed the enforcement-only House bill and not the Senate measure. This has generated distrust of Bush's motives. So it's time for him to declare, loudly and publicly, what he wants--what he really wants. It's better enforcement, guest workers, and earned citizenship.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard and author of Rebel-in-Chief (Crown Forum).