President Bush said yesterday he wants to reform immigration policy so that the Border Patrol will be “chasing crooks and thieves and drug-runners and terrorists,” and not the thousands who cross the border every day to find work.
Mr. Bush has for months tried to drum up congressional support for his plan to give illegal aliens “temporary worker cards” that would allow them to legally hold jobs that U.S. businesses say they can’t fill with American labor.
At his final formal press conference of the year, Mr. Bush said immigrants are pouring over the U.S. border, mostly from Mexico, to “put food on the table” and that “it makes sense for us to recognize that reality.
“We want our Border Patrol agents chasing, you know, crooks and thieves and drug-runners and terrorists, not good-hearted people who are coming here to work,” Mr. Bush said. “And therefore, it makes sense to allow the good-hearted people who are coming here to do jobs that Americans won’t do a legal way to do so. And providing that legal avenue, it takes the pressure off the border.”
Conservatives have resisted the president’s plan, arguing that it amounts to an amnesty for those who are currently breaking the law and that the relaxed rules could be exploited by terrorists.
Mr. Bush assured critics that “one of the important aspects of my vision is that this is not automatic citizenship.
“The American people must understand that,” Mr. Bush said. “If somebody who is here working wants to be a citizen, they can get in line like those who have been here legally and have been working to become a citizen in a legal manner.”