On Wednesday, January 23, 2007, President George W. Bush gave his 2007 State of the Union address. The address was given among talk of the dramatic changes on the congressional floor that evening. Among these changes is the President’s more in depth discussion of the issue of immigration. His greater discussion signals that immigration reform is on the horizon.
In 2006, the President devoted three sentences to the issue of immigration law. The focus of his immigration discussion was on securing the border rather than addressing the problem of those without a legal path to the U.S. At that time, there was only a brief discussion of a guest worker program that would allow for temporary jobs in the United States for those without documentation and nothing more.
In 2007, the President also referenced securing the border. However, his focus for immigration purposes was dramatically different than it had been in the past. He now emphasized comprehensive immigration reform.
In his 2007 State of the Union address, the President called for a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter the country to work on temporary visas. He acknowledged that such a system would benefit the country by freeing the border patrol to search for drug smugglers, criminals, and terrorists. He reminded Congress and the country of the great-lost tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals, and called for a resolution of the status of the illegal immigrants who are already here without animosity.
The most significant and hopeful part of the President’s statement on immigration, however, came at the end of his discussion of the issue. After the President acknowledged the depth of the convictions on the issue of immigration and implored Congress to have a “serious, civil, and conclusive debate” on that issue so that it could finally pass and he could sign into law a comprehensive immigration reform law, both sides of the gallery gave the President a standing ovation. The President’s remarks and Congress’ response signifies their desire to end the long-standing debate on immigration reform and to resolve the difficult situation for those in the United States without documentation today by providing them a means to legalize their status. An immigration reform bill could very well be on the way in the coming year. What form it will take, we do not yet know. We will be sure to keep you informed of any and all changes in immigration law in the coming months.