Thursday, January 27

WILL PRESIDENT BUSH GET THE MESSAGE?

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has broken with the president's prescriptions for immigration reform, and instead has introduced far more aggressive legislation that, if passed, would:

1) deny driver's licenses to illegal immigrants
2) make stricter the requirements for political asylum
3) extend a border fence the length of the contiguous border between California and Mexico

Congressman David Dreier's (R-Cal. and Chairman of the House Rules Committee) co-sponsorship of the "Bonner Plan" (see earlier post), coupled with Sensenbrenner's move, should send clear messages to President Bush that Republicans are not buying into his "Guest Worker Program" as the kind of immigration reform needed to deal with an issue that more and more Americans are thoroughly fed up over. Many Americans see the president's proposals as tantamount to granting amnesty to the approximately 8 million illegals currently in the United States. That's not their idea of reform.

Runaway illegal immigration, largely ignored until now by both major political parties, is increasingly grating on American voters. They comprehend its expense to taxpayers, its impact on our country's social fabric, and they see it as a wholesale contradiction in terms with this nation's anti-terrorist, post-"9/11" measures, including what for some is the burgeoning white elephant that is the Department of Homeland Security. Color-coded "Terror Alert" warnings appear as so much silliness when millions of illegals are streaming across this country's southern border every year, largely unimpeded by an under-funded, under-manned U.S. Border Patrol.

If members of the president's own party can't get his attention, there's someone in Congress who just might. The Democratic Party's leading contender for becoming its presidential candidate in 2008, Hillary Clinton, has shown herself to be far more hard-hitting on immigration reform and border security than George Bush. She's convincing Americans that she gets it -- unfettered immigration from Mexico, apart from its costs to taxpayers, can become a gateway for terrorists.

The president had better read the handwriting on the wall or the reborn Senator Clinton (immigration reform, southern evangelist and Pro-Life spokesperson) may just out flank him and the Republican Party. Of course, if she's to be perceived as truly a national leader within the ranks of her own party, than she had better begin lobbying recalcitrant members of the Democratic Party who see immigration reform measures with teeth as getting in the way of increasing the Party's share of Hispanic voters.