Bush's Immigration Crisis
Monday, March 27, 2006; 12:27 PM
For all the talk of a Republican congressional rebellion, President Bush hasn't yet lost a significant legislative battle on Capitol Hill.
This week may change all that.
Bush sees a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws as a top priority for his second term and he is pushing hard for an approach that includes both stepped-up border security and a guest-worker program. The goal is to cut down on illegal immigration while satisfying business interests -- and doing so in a way that can plausibly be described as compassionate.
But it's not looking good on the Hill.
Glenn Thrush and Peter Clark write in Newsday that Bush's effort, "which comes to a head this week in the Senate, has splintered the Republican ranks, pitting pro-business moderates and the White House against hard-liners eager to tap voter anger on the issue.
"It's also energized the Democrats' inner-city base and soured Hispanics to the GOP, spawning massive pro-immigrant protests on the streets of Los Angeles, Phoenix and Milwaukee."
Elisabeth Bumiller writes in the New York Times: "Mr. Bush is facing another test of his remaining powers as president.
"On Thursday, he called for calm in a White House meeting with groups pressing for changes in American immigration laws.
" 'I urge members of Congress and I urge people who like to comment on this issue to make sure the rhetoric is in accord with our traditions,' the president said.
"He added, in a warning to members of Congress, that 'the debate must be done in a way that doesn't pit one group of people against another.' . . .
"Philosophically, the president, whose own sensibility on the issue was shaped by his experience as governor of Texas, says he is committed to a program that meets the needs of business. . . .
"But politically, Mr. Bush must satisfy his most conservative supporters."