Yesterday, an estimated 20,000 demonstrators protested at the offices of Sen. Jon Kyle (R-AZ), a co-sponsor of the anti-immigrant legislation. FOX News reports that it was one of the largest protests in the city's history. Tens of thousands of workers staged a walkout in Georgia on Friday after the Georgia House passed anti-immigrant legislation which would deny government services to persons in the country illegally (similar to GOP-led legislation defeated in the Indiana House earlier this year) and impose a 5 percent surcharge on wire transfers from illegal immigrants FOX also reported. In Los Angeles, students staged walkouts from schools, which caused fighting to break out between Hispanic and black students, and hundreds of thousands gathered for another protest in downtown Los Angeles today.
Bush used his weekly radio address to urge Congress to pass a guest worker visa program to deal with illegal immigration rather than the harsh penalties contained in the GOP legislation. The AP reports:
President Bush, bracing for more street protests and a Senate showdown on immigration reform, called Saturday for legislation that does not force America to choose between being a welcoming society and a lawful one.
"America is a nation of immigrants, and we're also a nation of laws," Bush said in his weekly radio address about the emotional immigration issue that has driven a wedge in his party . . .
Bush wants Congress to create a program to allow foreigners to gain legal status for a set amount of time to do specific jobs. When the time is up, they would be required to return home without an automatic path to citizenship.
"As we debate the immigration issue, we must remember there are hardworking individuals, doing jobs that Americans will not do, who are contributing to the economic vitality of our country," he said.
Unfortunately, Bush's unpopularity may make his task of reigning in out-of-control members of his party on this issue a near impossibility. Sen. McCain, anxious to seek the GOP nomination for president in 2008, has to be extremely nervous that the GOP may forfeit any chances of holding the White House if Hispanics voters turn away from the GOP in large numbers. The California Republican Party found itself relegated to near-permanent minority status in the nation's largest state with its large Hispanic population after former Gov. Pete Wilson fought for the enactment of a state law which denied government services to illegal aliens--a law which was later overturned by the federal courts as unconstitutional.