Capitol Hill

Statue of Liberty or Minutemen?

On Jan. 7, 2004, President Bush placed immigration reform front and center of his domestic policy agenda by proposing a temporary worker program to match willing foreign workers with willing U.S. employers when no U.S. workers can be found to fill the jobs.

Bush's proposal sparked a heated debate that has proceeded for 1 1/2 years inside an echo chamber of conservative talk radio and cable news programs featuring those who argue undocumented workers present a security threat and take jobs that could be filled by U.S. workers.

Concerned the debate has become dangerously toxic, the White House busied itself during the congressional August recess to take control of a discussion that has pitted elements of the Republican base against one another. The effort aims to create a broad coalition of business groups and immigrant advocates to back a plan Bush could promote in Congress this fall or early next year.

Two visions