May 15, 2006
President Bush will address the nation tonight to outline a new proposal for immigration reform. The controversial plan calls for thousands of National Guard troops to help secure the 2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico and help block illegal immigration.
Immigration reform has been a big issue on capital hill lately. Some lawmakers think the proposed reform bill is too harsh, while others think we need to tighten our borders. This is why tonight's speech is already feeling a lot of controversy.
"People perceive it in different ways and sending troops to a border is something that can carry a strong image in either direction," said Matt Smyth of the UVa Center for Politics.
Mexican President Vicente Fox called the White House this weekend to express his concern over what he calls 'militarizing the border.'
"President Bush and President Fox of Mexico have been allies for most of the time that they've been in office and this could be a touchy issue," said Smyth.
However, the White House says the troops will not be there to arrest illegal immigrants. Instead, they will serve temporarily while the border patrol builds up its resources. Still, some lawmakers on both sides have attacked the plan.
"Will he tell the American people how this proposal will work without jeopardizing the critical role the National Guard plays in keeping our communities and nations safe?" asked Democrat Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.
President Bush is also expected to mention the need for immigrants to learn English and assimilate into American culture. He'll also re-new his push for the guest worker program which would allow undocumented workers already in the U.S. to stay.
"It'll be interesting to see how he outlines a more domestic type of policy and how he addresses the American people when it's not on national defense or national security," said Smyth.
The White House says close to 10,000 guardsmen would be deployed to the U.S. and Mexico border. That makes up less than 5% of their force.
The President's address will air tonight on CBS19/ABC16 at 8 p.m.