2004 is a presidential election year and speculation is running high that in his effort to win reelection, President Bush will address the growing political question of millions of illegal immigrants now residing in the U.S., namely: is there any relief on the horizon for hardworking, taxpaying productive members of society that have never been convicted of a crime? Our president appears ready to favorably answer this question by providing some form of immigration benefits to more than eight million undocumented residents.
President Bush is working on what may be the most ambitious overhaul of U.S. immigration policies since President Reagan offered legal status to millions of illegal immigrants in 1986. Bush confirmed these plans at a recent end-of-the-year news conference where he stated that he was preparing to send Congress recommendations for an "immigration policy that helps match any willing employer with any willing employee." The President was quick to note that though changes are needed he is, "firmly against blanket amnesty," or a mass legalization.
Though the details are not yet known this plan is likely to be based on Senator John McCain's plan which was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. That plan allows for a new type of visa for previously undocumented workers allowing them to live in the United States legally for three years. Then, the workers could apply for a temporary worker visa, which would be the path to a green card, or legal permanent residency.
Clarification of these programs and the likelihood of others will most likely come just before Mr. Bush meets with Mexican President Vincente Fox, an outspoken critic of U.S. immigration policy. President Bush, in an effort to repair that relationship and to court the large Hispanic vote will probably announce his new immigration policies at that time which is slated for the second week of January.
It is likely new immigration policies will be geared towards farm workers and day laborers. However, these new policies are also likely to include undocumented professionals as well. Simply put, it would be silly if they didn't.
President Bush and President Fox's meeting should not cause one to think that immigration reform will only apply to persons of Latin American descent. Instead, contemplated changes will apply to persons from all over the world, so long as they are qualified.