Posted on February 9, 2005

Delay Supports Guest Workers, but with Caveats

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, Feb. 9

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday he favors passing a U.S. guest-worker program only if it requires illegal immigrants to return to their home country before applying for temporary work visas.

“What I understand as a guest-worker program is one where you apply for the guest-worker program in your country of origin, and you have a job when you apply,” said Mr. DeLay, Texas Republican. “You cannot bring your family with you. You commit to work a certain period of time, and you go home. If you want to become a permanent resident or a citizen of the United States you have to get in line with everybody else.”

Mr. DeLay also said too much has been made over disagreements within the Republican Party on the issue of immigration reform.

“People are trying to make this a bigger schism than it really is,” he told reporters at his weekly briefing, adding that at a recent Republican retreat members began to close the divisions.

“After the members started talking to each other, instead of talking past each other and trying to get on TV by flagrant rhetoric, they actually are hearing each other,” he said.

Mr. DeLay said he talked with Mr. Bush at the retreat, and the president was open to Republicans’ suggestions, and in particular Mr. Bush “doesn’t discount the notion, for instance, that you have to apply for it from your country of origin.”