A major cornerstone of former President George Bush's policies revolved around reforming the United States immigration system. It would seem every important political election relies somewhat on immigration news and possible new policies on both legal and illegal immigration. Bush's administration had their sights set on passing an immigration reform policy that would help put illegal aliens on a quick path to legal immigration.
Like many presidents before him, Bush hoped to put an end to the arguing in Congress about what to do to overhaul the United States immigration system. His proposed plan followed the same lines as many proposed immigration reforms. He hoped to help the millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States achieve temporary worker status while tightening border security near Mexico and imposing strict sanctions on employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens. Like previous immigration reform plans, it was met with both favor and criticism. It was also eventually rejected by Congress, delivering a blow to the Bush administration.
As part of the new immigration reform, roughly eight million undocumented illegal aliens would be granted temporary worker status in the United States. Bush noted that American society had been built on legal immigration. The temporary worker status would be give working illegal immigrants the opportunity to obtain United States citizenship. However, Bush also hoped that the financial incentive of allowing illegal aliens the chance to work legally in the United States for a time period would give them motivation to return to their country of origin. If the illegal immigrants did decide to stay in America, Bush wanted them to compete for possible legal immigration slots with migrants outside the United States.
Bush was opposed to granting amnesty, or forgiveness, to illegal aliens living in the United States as he thought that it encouraged the violation of United States law. He did however, want to raise the amount of green cards issued to legal immigrants on a yearly basis. At the time, only about 140,000 immigrants were being issued green cards per year. Under his plan, the only illegal immigrants who could apply for temporary legal worker status were those who were already employed.
The temporary worker status would be legal for three years, with one possible extension of an additional three years. This would allow the immigrants to visit their home countries without the fear of being unable to return. Under the proposed immigration reform, individuals outside the United States would be able to achieve temporary worker status if they had a job offer from a American employer.
The proposed policy was the first major policy that Bushes unleashed in his second term of presidency. It was later rejected and Bush admitted defeat, promising to switch focus from immigration news to economical issues.