A change in position?

The New York Times has a very interesting article on the comments made by Cabinet Secretaries Gutierrez and Chertoff, who testified yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on immigration legislation. Their comments on offering temporary legal status instead of citizenship to illegal immigrants was particularly interesting, as it seemed to represent a shift in thinking on behalf of the White House. As the article points out:

The citizenship measure has been derided by conservatives as amnesty and hailed by some Democrats, Republicans and immigrant advocates as a provision that will encourage millions of illegal immigrants to come forward. In August, President Bush suggested that he supported such proposals, saying they sounded like “a reasonable way to treat people with respect.”

But on Wednesday, Mr. Gutierrez and Mr. Chertoff declined to endorse the measure. Mr. Gutierrez said many illegal immigrants might prefer working here for several years and returning home.


It was unclear whether the officials were simply trying to ease conservative concerns about the citizenship question or whether Mr. Bush had actually shifted his position. Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman, said Mr. Bush still supported a path to citizenship that would include payments of fines back taxes and a requirement to learn English, among other things. But it seemed unlikely that the two cabinet secretaries would make such remarks without first consulting the White House.

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