A bipartisan group of senators reach a deal on immigration reform.

A bipartisan group of senators reach a deal on immigration reform.

A bipartisan group of senators reach a deal on immigration reform.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 18 2007 5:57 AM

System Overhaul

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times lead, while the Wall Street Journal tops it world-wide newsbox, with yesterday's announcement that the White House and a bipartisan group of senators have come to an agreement on what amounts to the biggest changes in the country's immigration laws in more than 20 years. The legislation would put in place a system to legalize the current 12 million illegal immigrants and would prioritize job skills and education over family ties for those who want to settle in the United States. The 380-page document is full of compromises and has already drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle.

USA Todayleads with an analysis of federal highway data showing that, for the first time in 26 years, drivers in America have started clocking "substantially fewer miles." The price of gas is one reason, but there are also other factors, such as an aging population and a growing trend that has resulted in many people moving out of suburbs and into cities.

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If the immigration bill becomes law, it would provide a much-needed policy victory for President Bush, who has talked about changing the system since the beginning of his tenure. But all of the compromises mean the bill will face a steep challenge, particularly when the House takes up the issue in July, as even its supporters acknowledge the bill is not really what they wanted. "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good," Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said. Part of this compromise is that fully legalizing illegal immigrants would not take place until more stringent border-security measures are implemented, along with new regulations to make sure employers check the immigration status of their workers.

The immigration bill would also allow as many as 400,000 workers into the country on a temporary visa that would be good for only two years. Labor groups and some Democratic presidential candidates have expressed concern over this provision because they say it risks creating an underclass that could decrease wages. Democrats have also begun to raise questions over prioritizing job skills and education over family ties for new immigrants, which represents a major shift in current policy and has been a goal of Republicans for years.

The NYT and WP off-lead, and everyone mentions, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz resigning yesterday after weeks of controversy over a pay-and-promotion package he arranged for his companion when he became leader of the poverty-fighting institution. His resignation is effective June 30, a date many at the bank think is too far away for someone who has lost the trust of much of his staff. To get Wolfowitz to resign, the board agreed to issue a statement that said several people at the bank made mistakes and praised him for his years of service. President Bush is expected to name a successor soon.

Both the WP and NYT front a look into Wolfowitz's time at the bank, where he was the subject of much controversy long before the issue of his girlfriend's pay-and-promotions package became public. Both papers quote people who wonder whether Wolfowitz's tenure was, as the NYT puts it, "doomed from the outset." Besides having the reputation of being a bad manager (he "couldn't run a two-car funeral," a former colleague tells the Post), he had little experience that could have prepared him for overseeing 10,000 employees, and he never seemed to grasp the importance of respecting the bank's bureaucracy.

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As the factional fighting continues to rage in the Gaza Strip, the WP fronts word that, on Tuesday, Israel allowed the Fatah Party to bring in as many as 500 troops from Egypt who had been trained "under a U.S.-coordinated program." This illustrates the way in which Israel and the United States are taking sides in the conflict and working to ensure Fatah forces have the necessary resources to fight Hamas. Meanwhile, as retaliation for the repeated rocket attacks, Israel intensified the number of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip and killed as many as nine people between Thursday and early Friday, reports the LAT

All the papers mention that Senate Democrats announced they plan to hold a no-confidence vote on Alberto Gonzales' performance as attorney general. Also, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter predicted Gonzales would be stepping down soon and Sen. Norm Coleman became the sixth Republican to call for his resignation. (After suffering a nosedive earlier this week, Slate's Gonzo-Meter inched up a notch yesterday, increasing the chances of Gonzales leaving to 57 percent.)

As controversy continues to grow over the safety of ingredients from China, two of the largest U.S. food manufacturers "quietly" announced this month that they don't want any more of their supply to come from there, reports the LAT. Problem is, it's "next to impossible" to comply with that request. In the past few years, the country has become such a dominant supplier of several common food ingredients that U.S. manufacturers may not even realize their products originated in China. The NYT reefers a look into the country's problems with food safety and says several companies are pressuring the U.S. government to demand that China improve its quality control. 

Back to the bank … The WP's style section takes a look at the fashion accessory that quickly became a must-have in the grandiose halls of the World Bank's headquarters these last few weeks: blue ribbons. Although the ribbons were first meant to show support for good governance, they quickly became a "symbol of anger, a silent demand for the big boss's resignation." Even Wolfowitz was seen wearing a blue ribbon, which he said was for malaria awareness. Yesterday, "the blue ribbons had become a new symbol–of victory."