- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Bush plan on illegals dims hopes for agenda
Question of the Day
The Bush administration’s stance on immigration, already the cause of a political split with some Republicans in Congress, is beginning to erode lawmakers’ support for such presidential policy priorities as trade deals and extending the Patriot Act.
A handful of Republican lawmakers are citing the high rate of illegal immigration and the potential for an increase in foreign-worker visas as reasons to oppose the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which is expected to be considered by the House this month.
And last month, 10 House Republicans sent a letter to Mr. Bush telling him that they “would have grave reservations about supporting any extension” of the USA Patriot Act unless Mr. Bush first agrees to specific steps to boost the Border Patrol and immigration law enforcement inland.
Unless approved by Congress, 16 provisions from the 2001 law will expire at the end of this year.
“Asking for such advanced tools as roving wiretaps while ignoring basic border security is like asking for the installation of a state-of-the-art video surveillance system in a house without door locks — it simply doesn’t make sense,” the Republicans wrote.
For now, the opposition is limited. The 10 Republicans balking at renewing the Patriot Act, all of whom already opposed Mr. Bush on immigration, are unlikely to torpedo the Patriot extensions.
But Rep. Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican who signed the letter and who plans to vote against CAFTA, said immigration will begin to affect other policies.
“I cannot identify those policy issues at this time, but I think the closer we get to the 2006 election, absolutely,” he said. “I believe this will be one of the top three domestic issues for this country, because I’m hearing it not just from my district, but from other congressmen.”
For Mr. Jones, the opposition to CAFTA is based on the history of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Mexico, Canada and the United States. Illegal immigration from Mexico has jumped 350 percent under NAFTA, Mr. Jones said.
“We were being told when NAFTA became the law this would help create opportunities for Mexicans and more would remain in Mexico. That’s turned out not to be true,” he said. “CAFTA, the present bill, does very little to help labor and environmental standards of those countries, so those workers are going to be like those in Mexico — they’re going to look for better jobs.”
Other Republicans, such as Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, a leader in the immigration- control movement, say that as drafted, CAFTA confers a right to market services in other countries, thus giving nations a right to demand temporary work visas for their citizens.
In a letter to Rep. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican who raised similar questions, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Rob Portman responded to the growing concerns.
“The administration is acutely aware of congressional sensitivities with respect to the inclusion of immigration provisions in trade agreements. Accordingly, the CAFTA-DR does not contain any provisions pertaining to immigration,” he said.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Jim Mendenhall, the USTR’s acting general counsel, said CAFTA-DR does not grant private parties — people or companies — a right to demand work visas.
Christopher Padilla, assistant U.S. trade representative, said illegal Mexican immigration would have been much higher without NAFTA.
By Isaac Orr
New carbon-dioxide rules would put America in the dark
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- Pentagon wants extra $19M to equip, train Ukrainian troops
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors