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Reaction to Bush immigration speech

President Bush: "For decades, the United States has not been in complete control of its borders."


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National Guard

(CNN) -- The following is a sampling of reaction to President Bush's speech on immigration Monday night in which he proposed deploying National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border:

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican:

Rohrabacher, a leading immigration critic in the House, said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that he was "very disappointed" by the speech.

"He's playing these word games about massive deportations again, which no one is advocating and does not do anything to further an honest debate," said Rohrabacher, who also took issue with Bush's distinction between a legalization process for illegal immigrants and amnesty.

"If they are here illegally and you make them here legally, that is an amnesty," he said.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat:

"We know where the House Republicans stand. They want to criminalize undocumented immigrants and the nurses, volunteers and people of faith who help them. The president told us tonight that he is for comprehensive reform: Now he must lead. The president has the power to call up the National Guard, but now he must summon the power to lead his own Republican forces in Congress to support a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform."

House Majority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican:

"House Republicans have responded to the concerns of the American people by passing a strong border-security bill that reflects our commitment to re-establishing basic respect for our immigration laws and sealing our border against illegal entry. If the Senate passes an immigration bill, I'm committed to working with [House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner] and House Republicans to ensure we make border security our first priority and meet our commitments to the American people."

Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican:

Tancredo said on Fox News that Bush's plan to give some illegal immigrants a way to work their way to citizenship is "not fair" to those who have "been waiting for years outside the country to come in."

"I hope to God that we do not, in fact, pass anything in the House that resembles anything that is coming out of the Senate or that they were even talking about. ... The card for employers -- great idea. All for it. Putting the troops on the border -- great idea. All for it. But what absolutely bugs me, when the president starts talking about this false dichotomy ... where it's either round up and deport 12 million people or give them amnesty -- no, no. There is another way to do it. And that is, in fact, to make sure that they can't get jobs and, through attrition, millions will go home."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson:

The Democratic governor praised Bush's plan to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship that included a fine, paying back taxes and learning English, but he said on CNN's "Larry King Live" that he was "skeptical" about the use of National Guard troops on the border.

"My big question as the New Mexico governor is, Of the 6,000, how many are coming to New Mexico? And they couldn't give me an answer on that. It seems this policy is being made on the fly, and that's what's discouraging."

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Republican governor blamed the federal government for its "failure ... to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation" and complained that "border state governors were not consulted about this proposal in advance."

"It remains unclear what impact only 6,000 National Guard troops will have on securing the border," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "I am concerned asking National Guard troops to guard our nation's border is a Band-Aid solution and not the permanent solution we need.

"One thing is clear -- we all agree we must secure our borders, and I commend the president for speaking so passionately about the need for comprehensive reform tonight."

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

"Our government and people have long recognized that federal law enforcement officers are the best equipped and trained to deal with these kinds of civilian law enforcement needs. Soldiers are trained to kill the enemy, and they lack the training to conduct proper law enforcement. Furthermore, they lack training to respect and protect border community residents' civil liberties and safety. History has shown the dangers of using the military to engage in domestic law enforcement activities."

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican:

"With tonight's action from the president, we're moving towards serious action that will ease the gaps in our border security. The decision to send troops is the shot in the arm we need to strengthen our borders and protect our families. We must do everything we can to protect Americans from terrorism, and that means using the tools we have available: troops; Border Patrol agents; cameras; and in some cases physical barriers. These troops will help to protect our borders from terrorists, criminal gangs, drug runners and others who are crossing to harm Americans."

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney:

"Deploying the National Guard to the border does nothing to end the economic exploitation that is driving illegal immigration. Our laws must include uniform enforcement of workplace standards to ensure a more just and level playing field. We must reject outdated guest-worker programs that relegate all future immigrant workers to an indentured, second-class status with substandard wages and rights, and undermine standards for all."

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