2000 was a good year for proponents of immigration reform. The
elections of President George W. Bush and his Mexican counterpart
Vicente Fox signaled a new chapter in U.S.-Mexico relations. The
Bush administration initially saw great benefit to establishing a
guest worker program for the agricultural sector and flirted with
the idea of granting amnesty to millions of Mexicans unlawfully
residing in the United States. In August 2001, the countries
reached a preliminary agreement addressing these issues.
But the events of Sept. 11 rocked the political landscape,
relegating the Bush administration's initial plans to craft a more
open relationship with Latin America to the back burner. As
concerns about homeland security and counterterrorism justifiably
leapt to the top of the national agenda, comprehensive immigration
reform became one of the first casualties. Opponents of immigration
reform used Sept. 11 to assert that immigration and security are
mutually exclusive goals, and congressional opponents of
immigration gained stronger visibility.
After two years of inactivity on the topic, Congress suddenly
has embraced immigration reform with renewed vigor. It's not
difficult to see why congressional interest has returned. There
currently are an estimated 8 million unauthorized immigrants in the
United States, including 5 million to 6 million who are believed to
have arrived in the 1990s but about whom authorities know
In July, Reps. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
introduced the Border Security and Immigration Improvement Act (HR
2899), which aims to address projected labor shortages by
establishing two new visa categories—one for foreign workers
living outside the United States and the other for undocumented
foreign workers living...
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