Fox and Bush are talking about giving legal status to the estimated 4.5 million Mexican illegals currently working in the U.S., allowing them to apply to be citizens or guest workers.
Mexican workers who already make up a key part of the American economy would enjoy full legal protection. By proving employment, they could work toward permanent status.
Previous amnesty attempts (Reagan tried one in 1986) have led to a flood of new immigrants trying to qualify. Democrats question giving legal status only to Mexicans.
Fox's proposal would create a new class of immigrants, protected by labor laws, to work in low-wage industries. The immigrants can travel back to Mexico or seek permanent legal status.
Fox believes more Mexicans would return home seasonally, provided they can re-enter the U.S. And unions like the AFL-CIO are looking to protect laborers' rights.
Some proponents, like Senator Phil Gramm, question letting current illegals participate and want to limit the totals. And Tom Daschle asks, What about non-Mexican immigrants?
Conservatives say, Go slow. Add more security to the border while speeding up the citizenship-application process and easing restrictions for illegal immigrants already here.
Keeps the conservative wing of Bush's party happy--Senate G.O.P. leader Trent Lott and others were riled by the amnesty trial balloon the White House floated last week.
A tighter border has led to more Mexicans dying while crossing at increasingly remote desert stretches--and current illegals would gain no new protections.