Guest-worker program on Bush radar
The five sentences President Bush devoted to immigration in his State of the Union speech show that the White House remains committed to pushing for a guest-worker program this year.
As the Senate prepares to debate immigration-reform bills this spring, Bush and other Republicans are weighing their desire to overhaul the system against concerns that doing so would create a rift within the ranks of the GOP a few months before the midterm elections in November.
Public anger over the increase in illegal immigration means Republicans stand to gain if they can convince voters that they're working to fix the problem. But conservatives hoping to crack down on undocumented workers and employers who break the law by hiring them say what Bush wants wouldn't do that.
Grass-roots conservatives and many lawmakers are agitating for more barriers along the U.S.-Mexican border and more raids at job sites to find undocumented workers.
At the same time, business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a strong GOP ally, want a temporary-worker program, saying they need immigrant labor.
There is a divide here. Bush does not agree with the grassroots (aka "the little people" aka the electorate aka the true government) on this issue.