Here's the president's speech
today; here's the outline
(or "Fact Sheet," as the White House terms it) of the president's plan to "secure America through immigration reform." It's been nearly five years in coming; and, as one might have suspected it would, it sorely disappoints and leaves a lot of pertinent questions unanswered.
For starters, the president did not announce that by Executive Order he is moving troops to the border. Border security is clearly not his Number #1 priority. Were it so, troops would be assembling to meet the invasion as I write this post.
What is plain, moreover, is that despite the president's words today that "together with Congress, we're going to ... reject amnesty," he still has amnesty on the brain. It's just coming under the guise of a Guest Worker Program that at its foundation will make the case that there's no practical way of deporting the millions of illegals that the president's purposeful indifference to border security has allowed into our land illegally. His Director of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, has already said as much. He speaks for the Bush Administration.
As a conservative Republican, I am encouraged that the president is finally getting around to thinking about upholding his solemn duty to protect our nation from those who violate the laws of the land in entering this country illegally. It's about time now that 11 - 12 million are already here. It's not good that any president would ignore an invasion of the magnitude occurring on our southern border. That invasion is unprecedented in scope and impact. And it's an altogether egregious contradiction in terms for a president who nobly chooses to lead the fight on global terrorism to have ignored securing the nation's borders for this long a period of time since September 11, 2001.
Frankly, I found the president's speech to be nervy at best. There was no admission of culpability for what has already occurred on the border since his first term began, nor any light shed on what an under-manned U.S. Border Patrol has been facing. After all, American citizens are not ignorant. We know, for example, that budgeted funding for border security has increased dramatically under Bush '43 -- most spending has; but, we also know that additional Border Patrol agents earmarked in that funding were never hired and trained under Bush '43. The president didn't come clean on that.
And what about President Vicente Fox's and Mexico's complicity in the invasion? What about the government-funded "staging areas" operating in northern Mexico where human smugglers can hook up with those who want to enter the United States illegally and get themselves outfitted? What about the Mexican government-produced guide on how to emigrate illegally? What's George Bush going to do about Mexico? Why don't we take out those "staging areas" with surgical strikes for starters? And what about "Zetas": the for-hire, para-military, Mexican assassins operating in the United States? What's George Bush doing about them? MS-13 gang members operate in 33 states on George Bush's watch and Zetas roam Texas and you'd think from listening to the president that getting the lettuce crop harvested is paramount. And what about the way in which Mexico's U.S.-based consulates are regularly interfering in the internal affairs of the United States?
Indeed, to listen to George Bush's speech today, one would think the primary issue in the illegal immigration quagmire is matching willing workers with willing employers. Why don't we do that first with displaced workers who have lost their livelihoods because of hurricanes Katrina and Rita? Why instead are illegals swarming into the Gulf Coast to take that work from American citizens? It's disgraceful and it, too, is happening on George Bush's watch. And by the way, the implication always is that the kind of work Mexican nationals will do is work eschewed by Americans -- even poor Americans. Well, there are many of us who remain convinced that it's more about the substandard wages and non-existent benefits for that work than the work itself. Besides, the notion that illegals provide "cheap labor" to employers leaves out the punch line in that joke: what the employers don't pay, U.S. taxpayers subsidize through a broad social safety net of government benefits that illegals avail themselves of to such an extent that on their so-called pauper's wages they're still able collectively to send billions of dollars in remittances back to their homelands. Talk about disposable income! That's your income!
Was there word one in the speech about "anchor babies?" Was there word one about the ridiculous federal laws that require hospital emergency rooms to treat illegal aliens and even going so far as to require paramedics on the U.S. side to venture into Mexico to retrieve those ailing there and return them to the U.S. side for treatment?
Was there an apology issued to the courageous patriots forming The Minuteman Project, who the president brushed aside as vigilantes? Those Minutemen have done what the president refused for much too long to do -- to help secure our nation's borders.
What about the fact that 30% of the prison population is now comprised of illegal aliens? What in the president's proposals addresses this ongoing subsidization of another country's criminal element? And why when they are paroled are these criminals not being immediately deported? And what about the Sanctuary City laws that have police officers in so many of America's major metropolitan areas not questioning suspected illegal aliens and asking them to produce legitimate documentation? And what about the misguided cities providing Day Labor Centers for illegal aliens to congregate in and loiter about?
And no mention by the president of the sinister "el Plan de Aztlan" -- Mexico's determination to reclaim parts of the American southwest -- yet he had the audacity to claim that immigrants will be obliged to learn our nation's customs and values and (drum roll, please) even its language under his plan for immigration reform. He should have made his speech from Baldwin Park, California, where a monument to Mexican nationalism stands -- a symbol of what the invasion from the south is really all about.
This was but one speech and it comes at a time, nearly five years into George W. Bush's presidency, when his poll numbers are at their lowest and political opposition to the war in Iraq is building. I hope the speech was not a diversion. I hope it begins a major turn in the president's thinking on our nation's homeland security and border enforcement. But I'm sceptical. What the president should have done today is to speak exclusively on border security and to hold in abeyance any discussion of Guest Worker programs. If the president means it when he says he intends to harden the borders than he must harden his will to resist the special interests that will oppose him, and they will be legion.
After all, you don't stop an invasion by talking mostly about how to put the invaders to work.
The speech was rife with kudos to his own administration and the Congress for what has been done to date when what has not been done to date ought to be a national embarrassment and cause for a round of public apologies from elected officials who have been derelict in their sworn duty. Just because the president intones now that he will not sign any legislation that includes "amnesty" does not mean that we won't get amnesty in the final analysis. There could be some euphmeism used for it or we'll just hear again from Chertoff that it's as impossible as it is impractical to round up 11 - 12 million illegals and deport them. Goodness, there are thousands of MS-13 gang members wreaking death and havoc in 33 states and the best the president could claim today is that "hundreds" have been arrested.
Until I see troops on the border and the rescission of Sanctuary City policies, my suspicion will be that it remains all blue smoke and mirrors.
POSTSCRIPT: In this post
published on November 13th, I reaffirmed my support of President Bush, but with caveats, among them: "Our nation's borders must be secured and before any major overhaul in our immigration system is effected. Border enforcement -- genuine "homeland security" -- is a must. The invasion from the south must be stopped. Anything less is unacceptable. The president and the Congress must act. Blanket amnesty for the 11+ million illegal aliens already in this country is unacceptable."
FOLLOW-UP: Michelle Malkin comments
on the president's speech and provides some good links. Seems she wasn't terribly impressed either!
FOLLOW-UP II: James Fulford at the VDARE Blog links to Michelle Malkin and comments
on the president's slander of The Minutemen.
FOLLOW-UP III: The Lonewacko Blog pulls no punches
in assessing the president's speech. Do read the post.
FOLLOW-UP IV: Please make a point of reading FAIR's "7 Principles of True Immigration Reform"
and pay particular note of the SECOND PRINCIPLE -- namely, "No Amnesty or Mass Guest-Worker Program."
FOLLOW-UP V: This MSNBC poll
and this from CNN,
as published at the American Patrol Report, suggest the president's speech missed the mark by a mile.
FOLLOW-UP VI: Frosty Wooldridge quotes Teddy Roosevelt in this must-read column
: "In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language. We have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
FOLLOW-UP VII (11/29/05): The Tar Pit publishes a thoughtful, substantive response
to the president's speech and compares it's veiled form of amnesty with the elements of the amnesty effected during the Reagan Administration. Included are a large number of links to other blogs commenting on the subject, including ACSOL, for which this writer is grateful.
FOLLOW-UP VIII (11/29/05): California Yankee expresses his disappointment
in the president's speech at REDSTATE.ORG.: "All I really wanted to hear the President say was that in order to be allowed to participate in the temporary worker program illegal aliens would have to return to their homeland." Didn't happen, of course.
FOLLOW-UP IX (11/29/05): Peter Brimelow at VDARE Blog doesn't leave anything to interpretation in terms of his reaction
to the president's speech. Quite an unmistakable thumbs down!
FOLLOW-UP X (11/29/05): Rich Lowry at NRO puts the right perspective
on Bush's tough talk yesterday about border security -- namely, that it's "primarily meant to diminish opposition to a new guest-worker program and what would effectively be an amnesty for illegal aliens. It's a crackdown as prelude to a letup; in other words, Rove bait for red-staters." Seems Mr. Lowry and I are in lockstep. I would make this observation: the more columnists and bloggers are steeped in immigration law and conversant in the issues involving illegal aliens and porous borders, the more disenchanted they are with President Bush's prescriptions. They're not buying it. To use a popular Texas' expression, the president's dog don't hunt.
FOLLOW-UP XI (11/29/05): Polipundit opposes Guest Worker programs, but pitches a more optimistic note
than most on the heels of the president's speech: "But the very fact that the president is raising the issue of immigration enforcement, before any 'guest worker' program, is great news for Republicans, conservatives, and America. Handled right, this could be great policy and great politics."
FOLLOW-UP XII (11/29/05): The Dan Stein Report links
to a Washington Times' piece
on President Bush's speech, from which the following quote is taken: "The program would allow illegal aliens to remain in the United States for up to six years, which is anathema to conservatives." The Washington Times quotes Dan Stein as observing: "The president's plan is nothing more than a massive illegal alien amnesty on a six-year time delay," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "His temporary-worker program, which will be anything but temporary, is the death knell for America's middle class."