June 9th, 2007
12:47 PM ET
11 years ago

Bush: Immigration bill not 'perfect', but give it a chance

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) - Describing current immigration laws as "unacceptable," President George Bush urged senators on Saturday to support a bipartisan immigration bill that stalled two days earlier on the Senate floor.

"I understand the skepticism some members of Congress have regarding certain aspects of this legislation. Like any legislation, this bill is not perfect," Bush said in his taped weekly radio address, which aired while he was in Rome.

"Like many senators, I believe the bill will need to be further improved along the way before it becomes law."

Despite two weeks of heavy debate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pulled the bill from the Senate floor Thursday night, after it failed to garner the necessary votes to end debate and move toward a final vote.

Reid said the extended debate on immigration reform was getting in the way of other legislation, including an energy bill and a Democrat-sponsored motion of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Several senators thought pulling the bill from the Senate floor was premature, and may have killed any chance of its success.

Reid gave up on this bill "too soon" and should have allowed the debate, with consideration of more amendments, to continue, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. "We could have finished the bill in a couple more days, in my judgment."

Reid insisted that the bill, unveiled three weeks ago, was not dead. He vowed to keep working to find a way to get it passed "as soon as we can."

The president addressed one of the immigration bill's more controversial aspects: a provision that sets out a path to legalization and eventual citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants. Several Republican opponents have labeled this provision amnesty.

"Amnesty is forgiveness with no penalty for people who have broken our laws to get here. In contrast, this bill requires illegal workers to pay a fine, register with the government, undergo background checks, pay their back taxes and hold a steady job," Bush said. "In short, they will have to prove themselves worthy of this great land."

On Thursday, Reid appealed to the president to help persuade GOP members to support the measure.

"Where are the president's men? Where are the president's people helping us with these votes?" the Nevada senator said.

The bill's opponents also includes lawmakers on the other side of the aisle - Democrats who balk at the legislation's guest worker program, which they contend would drive down wages and create a permanent underclass.

Filed under: Immigration • President Bush
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Bill W

    The president is delusional if he thinks Americans want this bill. He and vice president Cheney are and have been on the side of big business. They want anything that is good for big business. Cheap labor is good for big business. But they do not care that it is bad for Americans who cannot get jobs. And why should they care about the average American, when they're getting $11 million tax refunds and all their buddies are raking in the dough, including heads of oil companies making record profits while we're paying all time high prices for gas, even adjusted for inflation.

    He also keeps saying the Iraq war will turn around if we just give it 6 more months. And the war has supposedly needed 6 more months for about 3 years now. And yet we're still sending more kids to die every day. For what? Cheap oil? Then why are gas prices still so high?

    I think this president's judgement is severly flawed. And I think he will go down as one of, if not THE worst president ever. I can't wait until his term is over.

    June 9, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. J. Bailey

    How many illegal aliens crossed the border during the Republican debate? That's the issue. Six years after 9/11, there are thousands of people walking across the border and into our cities and towns every week.

    This Congress and president have been so arrogant and irresponsible on the immigration issue, they've lost all credibility. They have violated their Constitutional duty to defend established borders, and their breach has been supported by the major media and multinational corporations. These three entities–multinationals, the media, and corrupt legislators and executives–have taken control of our republic.

    June 9, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. Lynn, Glen Burnie, MD

    When will the fools in DC get the idea that the American voters do NOT want to give away any more of America? We don't have that much left. Efforts should be made to improve high immigration countries - not dump on us!!

    June 9, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  4. Jones, NY, NY

    The only immigraton bill we need is one that enforces the deportation of all illegal aliens in the country. No amnesty, no birthright citizenship to illegals' children and NO federal or state aid of any kind. Illegals need to go back to their own country and apply through the US front door like everyone else. Anything else is preference, and that's not going to fly!

    June 10, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. Bill Hammon

    President Bush describes the current immigration laws as "unacceptable". I too think it is "unacceptable" that the current immigration laws have never been enforced. Why should we believe they will enforce any future laws?

    June 10, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Barbara Klaassen, Atlanta, Georgia

    Forget more volumes of meaningless laws to deal with this country's immigration problem.

    Simply ENFORCE the laws on the books; unless or until you can do that, you are simply wasting time and money getting "creative" (read stupid) with examples like the last volume of gobeldy-gook smoke and mirrors BS.

    Honestly, you have totally lost touch with reality. The more you people talk in DC, the more mentally deficient you all sound, be you Demopublican or Republicrat.

    I suggest serious mental health screening for the majority of Senators and Congressmen.

    June 10, 2007 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. DJ, Los Angeles, CA


    Bush can not be serious..."this bill requires illegal workers to pay a fine, register with the government, undergo background checks, pay their back taxes and hold a steady job.”

    Does he really think illegal aliens with have the will, not to mention the means to pay back taxes and register with the government???

    You have to be kidding...what kind of naive statement is that?

    June 11, 2007 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. Tricia M Charlottetown, PEI Candaa

    I'm thinking the reason this immigration bill is so important to Bush might be because:

    He feels obligated to provide homes to the underpriviledged, under paid, less fortunate around the world due to his sense of guilt. You know, like his obligation to other folks. For instance, his outpouring of support, aid and dollars to New Orleans' victims. Now that was truly christian of him.

    Also, regarding Immigration Bill, I'm sure he's likely figured out by now that with his being in office till 2008, there just won't be many other countries left around the world to find refuge in. SO, I'm sure his compassion is the driving force behind that Immigration Bill. What else could it be?

    June 11, 2007 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |