The Washington Post reports:
"The president has been supportive of the Senate approach, and in his speech Tuesday indicated that he does not regard such an approach as "amnesty" because illegal immigrants would have to get behind legal immigrants in line for citizenship."
It is so frustrating that the media lets President Humpty Dumpty use words to mean whatever he wants them to mean. First, the main point is not whether illegal aliens get citizenship now or or later or never. The benefits of citizenship are modest: you get to vote, but you also have to serve on juries, which most citizens view as a burden, not a benefit. (For immigrants, the benefits also include you can bring in your siblings and your parents. Permanent legal residents only get to import their spouses and parents. And citizens can't get deported after getting out of prison.)
No, what illegal aliens primarily want is residency, permanent legal residency. Illegal aliens don't want amnesty for illegally voting (hopefully) or illegally serving on juries (undoubtedly); they want amnesty for illegally residing in America.
Second, back in 2004, as you may recall, but nobody in the MSM seems to remember, Bush was defining "amnesty" (which he has always claimed to be against) not to mean "getting ahead of legal immigrants in line for citizenship," but as "getting on the path to citizenship" at all. Republican Congressmen didn't want illegal aliens getting the vote because they would predominantly vote Democratic. As I pointed out back then, this Rovian gambit was rhetorically unsupportable — if the debate was over illegal aliens getting residency without citizenship vs. residency with citizenship, the Democrats would win because Americans like to believe that making somebody an American citizen is a good thing.