IN OTHER WORDS: Bush on immigration

In a round of pre-inauguration interviews, President George W Bush has been repeatedly saying he’s serious about immigration reform, despite unhappiness among some anti-immigration Republicans in the House of Representatives.

The president says he does not want an amnesty or “instant citizenship” for America’s 8 million to 10 million undocumented immigrants. Instead, he talks in general about a guest-worker programme to give legal status to those now doing jobs Americans refuse. It remains to be seen whether such an idea will ruffle feathers among the administration’s rank and file. The president also increasingly seems to acknowledge the key to such a programme: These workers must be offered some appropriate path to American citizenship.

And for those who see every illegal immigrant as a security risk, he has said he believes a better guest-worker programme will improve security: If it is unnecessary for thousands of workers to cross the border secretly, the ones who do try to sneak across “may be involved in something other than labor,” as Bush has explained. If the Bush immigration system can be more humane, fair and even secure, the president deserves support, especially from conservatives. — The New York Times