Just maybe, if there's anything to this piece from the New York Times
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 - Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, said Tuesday that conservatives might be able to compromise with President Bush on his proposal allowing illegal immigrants to work in the United States legally.
Such a compromise could entail, for example, requiring illegal immigrants to return to their native countries to apply for the program, Mr. DeLay said.
Mr. DeLay said he talked recently with the president, who has advocated a guest worker program that would be open to workers who are currently in the country illegally as well as to newcomers.
"He doesn't discount the notion, for instance, that you have to apply for it in your country of origin," Mr. DeLay said of the president. "He thought that was a great idea."
I wonder if the President knows it's Tom Tancredo's idea?
Update: A warm welcome to all of you folks who were referred here by Michelle Malkin and Res Ipsa Loquitor. Michelle has been very generous in linking to The Tar Pit on a number of occasions in the month and a half I've been blogging, and I'm very grateful for the traffic and encouragement. RIL is a great blog I've been reading more and more consistently. Check out their outstanding coverage on British Immigration Reform. Also here and there.
A clarification: Michelle wrote "Sabertooth thinks President Bush may be backing down on amnesty." I posted just before hitting the hay last night, and I only meant to observe that the remarks by Tom DeLay that appeared in the New York Times are the first indications of any possible daylight between President Bush and Amnesty by other names. I use the word "Amnesty" in the classical parlance, meaning "to legalize illegal aliens." As you're no doubt aware, President Bush gets his definition of Amnesty from the same dictionary that Bill Clinton got his defintions of "sex" and "is."
Collectiing a "one time fee" froim illegals in return for legal status is Amnesty, and up to now that's been the length and breadth of the President's notion of immigration reform.
However, like Tom Tancredo, I take the position that if illegals have returned voluntarily to their home countries then they are no longer illegal, and they then should be eligible (assuming no criminal record, etc.) for any guest worker program that might be instituted. A non-Amnesty guest worker program should be used as a positive encouragement to illegals to get themselves right with the law by self-deporting.
The devil, as they say, would be in the details, but I've long held the basic position that President Bush should back down from Amnesty and incorporate some of the principles of Tancredo's guest worker plan, while making a genuine effort at enforcement against illegals not only along the border but in the American interior as well. If the President were to do this, and those are still big ifs, then self-deportation of illegal aliens would become a reality and Bush could claim credit for a humane, profound, and realistic immigration reform that meets America's legitimate labor needs without rewarding illegals at the expense of law-abiding foreign applicants.
A side benefit that the President should consider is that such a reform would also not tear the Republican Party apart.