- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2004

Members of American Legion Post 108 in Cheverly oppose President Bush’s proposed new immigration policy, which would allow millions of illegal immigrants to apply for legal work status.

“This is pretty much of a Republican bar. They think [Mr. Bush] sold out politically for the Hispanic vote,” said bartender Chuck Gannon.

Mr. Gannon said he doesn’t know whether the proposal is a “political ploy” or a means to collect more tax revenue. If it’s the latter, and resources are put into such efforts, “It’s a good thing,” he said.

There’s been more debate about the issue at American Legion Post 38 in the Baltimore suburb of Dundalk. “I’ve heard both pro and con. Some say we have enough illegals here already,” said bartender Judy Linz.

But she agrees with a man who offered his opinion yesterday morning. “He said he thinks it’s a good idea because it will increase taxes for people who are now getting paid under the table,” said Ms. Linz.

She said many immigrant day laborers are paid in cash. “They can spend the money and don’t have to pay taxes,” Ms. Linz said. “They are here in this country and are getting all the benefits. So let them pay taxes.”

At Steve’s Barbershop in Peoria, Ill., there’s usually plenty of talk about presidential politics. But that’s not the case with Mr. Bush’s proposed immigration policy, which requires congressional approval to become effective.

Immigration “doesn’t mean anything to us. Not in the Midwest, anyway,” said shop owner Steve Bainter.

But it does mean something to Ray Borane, mayor of Douglas, Ariz., which is right on the border with Mexico and is a hot spot for illegal immigration.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr. Borane, a Democrat, said: “This is definitely a political move, a vote-getting mechanism. It’s so blatant what [the president] is doing.

“I’m glad the issue is on the table, but I don’t think this policy will work. It won’t stop illegal immigration,” Mr. Borane said.

But Roger Barrett, owner of the Yellville Service Center in Yellville, Ark., is upbeat about the Bush program, which would allow illegal immigrants to take jobs Americans don’t want. He believes that arrangement could help the local economy.

“We can’t get anyone willing to work for the wages paid at the shirt factory here, and they don’t want to work at the Tyson’s chicken plant in Green Forest, which is near here in northern Arkansas,” said Mr. Barrett.

“There are a lot of things people around here won’t do, so I think President Bush’s plan is a good idea,” the Arkansas businessman added.

But in Arizona, Mayor Borane said: “These Mexicans aren’t going to be patient enough to wait and see if any Americans want a job. And entrepreneurs will continue to hire these people illegally, so the flow will continue.”

Similar sentiments apparently are widespread in states bordering Mexico. A spokesman for one border-state federal lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said his office has received as many as 300 calls about the immigration proposal in the past few days. “All but two were adamantly opposed,” the staffer said.

In Denver, TV station KUSA conducted a survey that found 58 percent of Coloradans oppose Mr. Bush’s request, while 34 percent support it. The poll of 500 persons was conducted by Survey USA.

Greg Stromer, owner of Lemon Grove Coffee, a coffee shop in Lemon Grove, Calif., near San Diego, said, “The prevailing attitude here is that [Mr. Bush] is courting the Latino vote” with his immigration proposal.

Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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