(CNSNews.com) - Depending on the political viewpoint, President Bush has either "re-emerged as a leader" with his immigration reform proposal or is offering "massive amnesty" to illegal aliens who have no intention of honoring the conditions contained in the president's plan.
On Monday, Bush ventured to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., to explain the fine print on his proposal, which includes provisions that would allow illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. as temporary workers for up to six years.
While warning that his administration would not tolerate illegal immigration, Bush also declared that "America has always been a compassionate nation that welcomes the newcomer."
Immigrants "help meet the demands of a growing economy and help those who are trying to provide for their families through an honest day's work," Bush said.
Earlier in the day Cybercast News Service enlisted the views of the president's supporters and critics on the issue.
"President Bush has re-emerged as a leader on this issue. Immigration reform is incredibly important, and the more time that passes, the worse the problem is getting," said Michele Waslin, director of immigration policy research at the National Council of La Raza, a group that describes itself as "the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States."
"We have about 11 million undocumented illegal immigrants working in this country, living in the shadows, fearful of coming forward to report crimes, being exploited in the workplace, and that's a problem," Waslin told Cybercast News Service.
Jeanne Butterfield, director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), said Bush's proposal moves in the right direction, but she added that the government should "provide a path towards permanent residency options after the six years, and provide real, viable options for those who want to work."
However, Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), one of the nation's harshest critics of the government's handling of illegal immigration, said the time is right for a tough, new policy.
"The American public is just clamoring for border security and enforcing our immigration laws," Mehlman said, but he added that Bush appears to want to satisfy both sides in the debate.
"What [President Bush is] going to do is basically tell everybody on the other side of the border to just wait because they will be able to come legally," Mehlman said. At the same time, Bush's message that individuals aspiring to move to the U.S. should not cross illegally is meant "to show that he's serious about enforcing the border.
Bush's program, Mehlman said, would amount to a "massive amnesty and vast guest worker program."
Individuals who originally arrived in the U.S. under illegal terms would have no interest in following the president's temporary worker guidelines, he said. "They are never going to go home. They aren't all going to thank us and then pick up and go home. They'll stay," Mehlman told Cybercast News Service.
"All that [Bush] is going to do is open the borders and allow all the people to come in through some legal channel," according to Mehlman.
John Keeley, director of communications at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), said he considers the Bush immigration reform plan consistent with the president's past actions.
"I don't think this is any remarkable departure for the president in how he has viewed the issue of immigration since he came into office nearly five years ago. He's not going to appeal to the vast majority of American conservatives," Keeley told Cybercast News Service.
"He could, if he wanted to, by executive order today, empower the Social Security Administration and the IRS and Treasury Departments to send notices to employers that are hiring illegal aliens, saying, 'We're not going to tolerate it anymore.' But he won't do that, and that is telling, Keeley said.
The president is "looking to sort of jujitsu what is now a crisis, so that he won't generate heat from the Democrats in Congress, but at the same time curry some favor with his conservative base," Keeley added.
Guest worker programs "have always failed," according to Keeley, noting that the recent riots in France involve North African emigrants who arrived in France through guest worker programs.
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