Wednesday, July 14, 2004

More news on Bush immigration reticence

In light of Salvadoran President Tony Saca's failure to get movement from Bush on temporary protected status for Salvadorans in the U.S. on Monday, this article today from the Wall Street Journal caught my attention. The administration and the Republican leadership in both houses are reluctant to bring up legislation that would help farm workers establish legal residency.

This is actually good news for the Democrats, handing them a useful issue for Latino voters, and serving up on a silver platter key legislation for any future Democrat in the White House.

My handy-dandy excerpt follows:

The turn of events is surprising given the strong bipartisan support for the measure and the close attention both parties are paying to Hispanics, the nation's fastest-growing minority population and a potential rich source of votes in Southwestern swing states this year.

As many as 63 senators -- including 26 Republicans and a dozen committee chairmen -- are sponsors of the bill, and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee, told a Hispanic audience in Phoenix recently that he would sign the legislation within minutes, if elected president.

But the White House is skittish, fearful that the bill comes too close to granting amnesty to illegal aliens.

...From the United Farm Workers union to the traditionally conservative American Farm Bureau, old adversaries back the compromise. The Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, derides it as a "Faustian bargain."

...Agriculture interests clearly have a major political stake in some settlement. No other sector of the American economy appears more dependent on guest workers, and Sen. Craig estimates that perhaps 80% of the immigrant farm workers in U.S. fields today are undocumented, illegal aliens.

...Nonetheless, a White House official says the bill goes beyond what the president wants by forgiving those who entered the U.S. illegally.

..."It's a clear signal to me that there's something wrong in the top leadership of the administration about this," says Arturo Rodriguez, president of the Farm Workers union. "If they can't deal with this, how will they deal with anything on immigration?"

"The Hispanic vote could be the decisive vote in this election," New Mexico's Democratic governor, Bill Richardson, said yesterday. "But the Republicans will not succeed in getting the 40% of the Hispanic vote that they want. We're going to keep them at 30-35%. I think you're going to see states with large Hispanic populations like Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida go Democratic."

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