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Bush Proposes Immigration Reform Plan - 2004-01-07


President Bush wants to change U.S. immigration laws to give legal status to millions of people already working in the country without permission. The president's plan is expected to face opposition in Congress from members of his own party.

President Bush says the new temporary worker program will make U.S. immigration more compassionate by matching employers with undocumented workers either already in the United States or those who want to work here.

"Out of common sense and fairness, our laws should allow willing workers to enter our country and fill jobs that Americans are not filling," Mr. Bush said.

The plan would legalize at least eight million undocumented workers in America because those who qualify for the program would not be punished for entering the country, or working, illegally.

They would receive all U.S. employee benefits, including minimum wage and legal protections. They would pay taxes, qualify for federal retirement savings, and be eligible for driver's licenses in most states.

The temporary permits would be good for three years and could be renewed a still-undetermined number of times.

The president's plan requires approval from Congress where it is expected to face criticism from conservative Republicans who say they do not want to reward those who have entered the country illegally and are working without permission.

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