"We Support The Immigration Reform Compromise Worked Out In The Senate For A Few Simple Reasons. It Strengthens Our National Defense. It Makes Our Economy More Competitive And Flexible. It Enhances The Rule Of Law And Promotes National Unity. And It Also Does These Things In A Fair, Practical Way." - Jeb Bush and Ken Mehlman
Excerpts From The Wall Street Journal
A Good Immigration Bill
By Jeb Bush and Ken Mehlman
May 31, 2007
"Immigration reform is very tough. It's an issue that divides both political parties and, on the right, has led many close personal and ideological friends -- people we respect and whose criticism we take seriously -- to oppose new rules governing how people enter this country and how we handle those who are here illegally. But we hope our friends reconsider.
"We support the immigration reform compromise worked out in the Senate for a few simple reasons. It strengthens our national defense. It makes our economy more competitive and flexible. It enhances the rule of law and promotes national unity. And it also does these things in a fair, practical way.
"Here's what the bill does not do. It does not grant amnesty to the 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country and nor does it give a free pass to others who want to enter the country illegally.
"The bill provides real border security for the first time, protecting us against the entry of terrorists and stemming the flow of illegal drugs. It doubles the border patrol, expands the border fence and informs law enforcement about foreign nationals in the United States. Because it requires foreign workers to carry tamper-proof identification, both law enforcement and employers will be able to identify and apprehend those who violate the law.
"The temporary worker program will reduce the number of people trying to sneak past the border patrol, allowing law enforcement to focus on those who pose a threat to the U.S. By putting border security first, this immigration reform adds a provision that many Republicans suggested last year. It adopts the "trigger" mechanism suggested by Sen. Johnny Isaacson, a Georgia Republican. Until and unless security improves on the border, the temporary worker program and "Z" visa provision for three-year work permits will not be implemented.
"Third, the immigration reform reinforces the rule of law in a practical and fair way. Today, those in the country illegally live and work without penalty. Doing nothing is the real amnesty. Under this bill, illegal immigrants would be required to pay fines, pass strict background checks, remain employed and maintain a clean record to stay in the U.S. Getting these 12 million people out of the shadows will enhance our national security....
"Both of us have spent much of our professional lives working to help build the Republican Party. We believe this legislation will be good for the GOP. Hispanic Americans are natural Republicans. Many tend to be pro-life, pro-military and pro-small business.
"The immigration reform before Congress is far from perfect; it's a compromise after all. But, on balance, we are convinced that this legislation is the right choice. It represents progress in making America safer and stronger; progress in making our economy more competitive and flexible; progress in reinforcing the rule of law and progress in the important work of national unity. Doing nothing is not an option."
Mr. Bush is a former Republican governor of Florida and Mr. Mehlman is the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Read the entire op-ed by Governor Bush and Chairman Mehlman here (subscription required.)