Outside editorial: Bush should expand guest-worker program

The following editorial appeared in Wednesday's Orlando Sentinel:

Posted: Thursday, September 06, 2001

Civil-rights and other leaders who argue that proposed federal-immigration reforms should apply to illegal immigrants from all countries have a point.

President George W. Bush, in preparation for Wednesday's meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox, spent too much time focusing on illegal immigrants from that country. Understandably, that has given rise to concerns that his new policy might favor Mexicans.

Mr. Bush needs to ensure that immigrants from other nations also have an opportunity to make their way to the mainstream. But in doing so, Mr. Bush should practice restraint in two respects.

First, he would do well to quash any talk of a general amnesty that would allow illegal immigrants to stay in the United States indefinitely. This country has tried that in the past, with mixed results. One of the big downsides of that approach is its unavoidable encouragement to more people to try to enter the United States illegally.

Nor should Mr. Bush limit his immigration reforms to illegal immigrants who already are here.

The answer lies in a greatly expanded guest-worker program that would receive close monitoring. It would end the hassles for illegal immigrants in the United States by giving them an opportunity to work for a few years. Then they would have to return home, making way for others to have a chance.

Such an approach would be fair and would greatly open doors for people to come to the United States legally.



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