Mission, Texas—President Bush squarely countered his legislative critics on immigration yesterday, telling the Congress to “do its duty” by passing a bill that includes a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens.
“I understand this border,” Mr. Bush said, standing just yards from the U.S.-Mexico border at Anzalduas County Park.
He proclaimed success on his pledge to dispatch 6,000 National Guard troops to the border states by Tuesday to help the U.S. Border Patrol and said it is making a dent in illegal entry. But he also said that enforcement alone isn’t enough to stem the flow and that a program for future temporary workers is needed.
Although not breaking much new ground, Mr. Bush’s speech signals that he is not backing down amid harsh criticism from House Republicans over his immigration policy.
“I expect the United States Congress to do its duty and pass comprehensive immigration reform,” he said.
Mr. Bush made no mention of proposals to delay a guest-worker and legalization program until after the borders are secure—a “trigger” approach that has gained favor among many of his key Senate allies on the issue.
In the meantime, Mr. Bush and Congress have been working piece-by-piece on enforcement.
On Wednesday, the Senate approved nearly $2 billion to fund 370 miles of fence and hundreds of miles of vehicle barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border. But another amendment to fund hundreds more Border Patrol agents, detention beds and other enforcement measures Congress already authorized failed on a parliamentary maneuver.
But White House spokesman Tony Snow said Congress is leaning toward Mr. Bush’s position.
“Republicans in the House and Senate, I think, are working toward something that fits the president’s description of comprehensive reform,” Mr. Snow said.