Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is busy ending our "catch and release" program. But Bush and Congress have not done much on new immigration legislation until this year. The guest-worker issue splits Republicans, and Democrats are not unified on it, either.
Some Democrats who favor guest workers are leery about what they consider overly harsh border security and reporting requirements. But as private citizens who call themselves Minutemen have taken to patrolling the Arizona border, and as the Democratic governors of Arizona and New Mexico have called for tougher border enforcement, pressure on Congress to act is enormous.
For several months, there have been White House meetings with members of Congress, including Democrats, on immigration. Now, the talk is that the House will take up the issue in December and pass a tough border security bill, which will probably be backed by all Republicans and many Democrats, and that the Senate will take up that issue and also consider the vying guest-worker bills early next year.
Republicans Jon Kyl and John Cornyn are sponsoring a bill that would require current illegals to return to their native countries before receiving temporary guest-worker permits. John McCain and Edward Kennedy are sponsoring a bill that would allow them to apply to regularize their status while remaining in the United States.
If the Senate passes a bill -- a big if -- the issue would go to conference committee. Republican leaders in Congress and the administration hope that a conference committee version with both border security and guest worker provisions can be jammed through the House, which will take some Democratic as well as Republican votes.
Passage in the Senate should be easier. But there's still a lot of hard work to be done before an immigration bill gets to Bush's desk.
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