WASHINGTON — Immigrant and labor groups on Tuesday applauded President Bush's position speech on immigration reform, as Congress prepares to tackle the controversial issue anew.
In an attempt to shore up a major breach in the Republican party on immigration reform, Bush said in a televised address to the nation Monday night that he does not support massive deportation of the estimated 11 million to 12 million undocumented workers in the U.S.
"Some in this country argue that the solution is to deport every illegal immigrant and that any proposal short of this amounts to amnesty," said Bush. "I disagree. It is neither wise, nor realistic to round up millions of people, many with deep roots in the United States, and send them across the border."
Bush said there is a "rational middle ground between an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation." He said illegal immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for years and want to stay in the country legally should pay a "meaningful penalty" for breaking the law, pay taxes, learn English and be able to apply for citizenship, though approval would not be "automatic."
Immigrants and advocacy and labor groups have held huge demonstrations in the past few months to protest a House bill passed in December that focuses on enforcement of immigration laws that, if enacted, would make it a felony for illegal immigrants to be in the country without documentation.
"We are really pleased that the president came out in favor of earned citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers currently in the country," said Tom Snyder, national political director for UNITE HERE, which represents 400,000 workers in the textile, apparel, hotel and restaurant sectors. "That was an important thing for him to say."
Snyder said provisions in the Senate bill laying out a path to citizenship for undocumented workers based on the number of years they have worked in the U.S. is a "good starting point," but noted the union will press for the inclusion of more undocumented workers in the eligibility of citizenship procedures.
Flavia Jimenez, an immigration policy analyst for the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, said Tuesday, "We are pleasantly surprised at the positive tone of President Bush's speech last night. We do not agree with 100 percent of what was said, but the notion of a comprehensive approach to the problem, the notion of earned legalization for undocumented workers here and the temporary worker program, we are in agreement with."Bush's speech came as the Senate took up a comprehensive immigration reform package this week where a heated debate centered on border enforcement and legalizing the status of illegal immigrants in the U.S.
Senate leaders recently reached a deal to resurrect a broad immigration bill and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R., Tenn.) has scheduled two weeks of debate in an effort to pass a bill before the Memorial Day recess. If the Senate passes a bill, it will go to a conference committee, where a battle over reconciling the House and Senate bills will take place. Frist has said the Senate will send 14 Republicans and 12 Democrats to negotiate with the House.
Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday defeated an amendment offered by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.) that would have delayed earned citizenship until the Homeland Security secretary confirmed that borders are secure.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast