Introducing a report on illegal immigration, Fox News' Brit Hume told viewers that "some unintended consequences" had arisen from "President Bush's proposal to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship." Bush, however, has offered no such proposal and has refused to say whether he would support an "earned citizenship" plan with bipartisan backing in the Senate.
Introducing a report on illegal immigration on the April 18 edition Fox News' Special Report, Washington managing editor Brit Hume told viewers that "some unintended consequences" had arisen from "President Bush's proposal to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship." Bush, however, has offered no such proposal and has refused to say whether he would support "earned citizenship" plans with bipartisan backing in the Senate.
In January 2004, the White House outlined a set a "principles of immigration reform" along with a proposal for a "temporary worker program" that would let illegal immigrants apply for temporary legal status that would last for up to six years. The proposal did not include any plan to offer permanent legal status or citizenship to most illegal immigrants.
As the Los Angeles Times reported in a January 9, 2004, article, Bush's plan would instead allow illegal immigrants to apply for permanent legal status "through existing channels, with no special advantages." The Times noted that "while there are an estimated 8 million to 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, the government awards only 140,000 employment-related green cards a year -- just 5,000 to low-skilled workers." The Times further noted that "most" of the Democratic candidates for president at the time "voiced strong opposition" to Bush's plan and that Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) hoped "to institute an earned legalization program, with citizenship contingent upon residency, employment and a background check."
A March 24 Los Angeles Times article reported that Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), along with "many Democrats and Latino organizations," had criticized Bush's plan:
Bush's framework for immigration reform -- a set of principles, not a detailed plan -- "only takes us about 5% of the way," said Hagel, coauthor of a bipartisan bill that would cap the number of guest workers but would allow more illegal immigrants already in the United States to get on the path to citizenship.
The president has called for a guest-worker program that would allow Mexicans and other immigrants to hold jobs in the United States for a limited number of years and then return to their home countries with their savings. Undocumented immigrants already here would be eligible for legal temporary worker visas. But those wishing to become permanent residents and citizens would have to apply separately, with no guarantees.
"Immigration reform is going require the president's leadership," Hagel said.
Many Democrats and Latino organizations say the plan does not do enough to help longtime undocumented residents become citizens.
On March 27, the White House released a "fact sheet" outlining Bush's "Proposal For Comprehensive Immigration Reform." The proposal included Bush's temporary worker plan but did not include any new provision for granting current illegal immigrants permanent legal status or a path to citizenship.
Also on March 27, the Senate Judiciary Committee -- with the support of all eight Democrats and four of the committee's Republicans -- approved the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006," introduced in the Senate as S.A. 3192. In contrast to Bush's proposal, the Judiciary Committee bill would "legalize the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants and ultimately ... grant them citizenship, provided that they hold jobs, pass criminal background checks, learn English and pay fines and back taxes," as The New York Times noted. The Washington Post reported that the bill was "largely patterned on the measure sponsored by" Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ). As the Post reported on April 7, Kennedy and McCain subsequently embraced a compromise bill that would offer legal status and earned citizenship to "most of the nation's 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants."
Bush has not supported these earned citizenship proposals. Instead, the White House has issued a series of ambiguous statements rejecting "amnesty," "automatic citizenship," and an "automatic path to citizenship" without defining those terms.
From the White House's November 28, 2005, "fact sheet" titled "Securing America Through Immigration Reform":
A Temporary Worker Program Would Not Provide Amnesty. The program does not create an automatic path to citizenship or provide amnesty. The President opposes amnesty because rewarding those who break the law would encourage more illegal entrants and increase pressure on the border. A Temporary Worker Program, by contrast, would promote legal immigration and decrease pressure on the border. The President supports increasing the annual number of green cards, but for the sake of justice and security, the President will not sign an immigration bill that includes amnesty.
From Bush's April 5 statement at the White House:
BUSH: I urge the senators to continue to work toward getting a comprehensive bill; a bill that will help us secure our borders; a bill that will cause the people in the interior of this country to recognize and enforce the law; and a bill that will include a guest worker provision that will enable us to more secure the border, will recognize that there are people here working hard for jobs Americans won't do, and a guest worker provision that is not amnesty, one that provides for automatic citizenship.
From Bush's April 8 radio address:
BUSH: A new temporary worker program should not provide amnesty. Granting amnesty would be unfair to those who follow the rules and obey the laws. Amnesty would also be unwise, because it would encourage others to break the law and create new waves of illegal immigration. We must ensure that those who break our laws are not granted an automatic path to citizenship. We should also conduct the debate on immigration reform in a manner worthy of our nation's best traditions.
Following Hume's false claim on Special Report, Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse correctly reported: "President Bush said the United States needed an immigration policy that permitted guest workers to perform the jobs Americans would not do. Then came Senate proposals to legalize immigrants already here."
From the April 18 edition Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
HUME: The debate over immigration reform and President Bush's proposal to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship appears to have had some unintended consequences along the Mexican border. Fox News Correspondent William La Jeunesse reports the number of attempts to enter the country illegally has increased.
LA JEUNESSE: Border watchers say they noticed the change last year after President Bush said the United States needed an immigration policy that permitted guest workers to perform the jobs Americans would not do. Then came Senate proposals to legalize immigrants already here. Those factors, they say, coupled with plans to increase enforcement have illegal immigrants making a run for the border.