- The Washington Times - Monday, August 29, 2005

President Bush yesterday told a crowd of supporters in Arizona that “we have an obligation to enforce the borders,” but did not mention his guest-worker proposal that would allow millions of illegal aliens to stay in the United States.

Arizona and New Mexico this month declared immigration emergencies, saying that tens of thousands of illegals were bringing border security to the point of collapse. The moves allowed the states’ governors to tap into millions of dollars to shore up porous borders with Mexico.

“I understand it’s putting a strain on your resources,” the president said during a stop in Phoenix to discuss Medicare. “We know that. I don’t know if you know this or not, but hundreds of thousands of people have been detained, trying to illegally cross into Arizona.

“In other words, what I’m telling you is, there’s a lot of people working hard to get the job done, but there is more we can do,” he said.

Mr. Bush vowed that the federal government would work closely with state governments to tackle the problem of illegal immigration.

“That’s the most effective way to do things, is to work with the state and local authorities. There are more resources that will be available; we’ll have more folks on the border; there will be more detention space to make sure that those who are stopped trying to illegally enter our country are able to be detained.”

Telling supporters that “your voices are being heard in Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Bush pledged that his administration would provide “the resources necessary to do our responsibility, which is enforce this border.”

Following the moves in Arizona and New Mexico, a group of Republican lawmakers in California last week said they will introduce legislation giving Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger the power to declare an emergency along California’s border with Mexico.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush plans a push on his second-term agenda priorities next month, including immigration. His guest-worker proposal would allow as many as 11 million illegal aliens to hold jobs Americans won’t take and apply for legal entrance into the United States while remaining in the country.

But the president is considering a change to his proposal — limiting guest-worker visas to those illegal aliens who came to the United States before February 2004. Those who arrived later would be deported.

On Capitol Hill, several plans have been floated. Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, is sponsoring a bill with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, that would create 400,000 three-year visas for guest workers. The bill would allow illegal aliens to stay in the United States while their applications are processed.

A competing plan backed by Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, would create two-year visas and require illegal aliens to leave the United States before they could apply for the chance to work legally in the country.

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