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Administration lays out immigration plan

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff listens to U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez as he discusses border security and immigration administrative reforms in Washington, D.C., today.

TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL: Congress is gone for the month. And immigration reform went nowhere. So today the Bush administration released its own plan. Two cabinet secretaries, Michael Chertoff from Homeland Security and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, had the announcing honors. More than two dozen policies — some new, some already on the books. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.


Dan Grech: The Bush administration said today it will step up efforts to secure the border with Mexico, to expel illegal workers and to enforce current immigration law.

Rosemary Jenks is with Numbers USA, an organization that wants to cut the number of immigrant workers.

Rosemary Jenks: Well on the one hand it is really a breath of fresh air to see the administration talking about enforcement. On the other, let's get to it.

Some experts want more immigrant workers, not fewer. Like Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute. Still, she too welcomes aspects of today's announcement.

Tamar JACOBY: This is good medicine. This is medicine we need. But we're missing the other medicine that has to go with it, which is a legal way to get the workers we need to grow the economy.

Congress went on summer recess without passing comprehensive immigration reform.So the Bush administration acted. The agriculture sector says the crackdown will cripple its business. Farmers nationwide face a major labor shortfall and estimated crop losses of $5 billion.

Bob Dane is with FAIR, a group that wants to limit immigration. He says farmers already have the H2A visa program, which allows them to bring in an unlimited number of temporary workers.

Bob DANE: That is an example of a program that's already in place, with no restrictions. And it's a program that business can utilize to get cheap labor.

Farmers complain the visa program is filled with red tape. The Bush administration promises it will overhaul the H2A process to make it easier and faster.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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