Austin Hill
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Did you hear the big, new developments with our government’s efforts to curb illegal immigration?

Probably not. The details got lost in the shuffle, like a lot of other important information emanating from Washington these days.

The details on the new developments are coming up, so stay tuned.

But first, you should know that Michael Chertoff spoke at the Fourth Annual Border Security Conference, held last week at the University of Texas at El Paso. And unfortunately, Mr. Chertoff’s comments at the conference seemed completely detached and disconnected from the “new developments” that ensued just days before.

On several previous occasions I have written here at Townhall Dot Com about the dismal performance of the second-term Bush Administration at communicating effectively, and meaningfully, to the American people. More specifically, I have often cited examples of the Administration’s apparent inability (or disinterest, as the case may be) to understand the perceptions that the American people have of their government with respect to illegal immigration, and its’ inability to anticipate how the American people might react to its’ proposals - - and lack of proposals - - regarding illegal immigration.

I have long maintained that the wartime President who ordered Americans in to battle on foreign soil to “hunt down the terrorists and bring em’ to justice” (a very noble objective, in my view) is, however fairly or unfairly, perceived by the American people as though he is ignoring the gross injustice that is staring all of us in the face - - the on-going assault on American lives and property at our nation’s southern border. Likewise, I have maintained that until the Administration speaks and acts with clarity to address this injustice, all its talk of “pathways to citizenship” and “worker visas” will be perceived as giving preferential treatment to “law breakers,” at the expense of law abiding American citizens.

Call it a “p.r. problem” if you want - - but it is most certainly a problem, and it is very real.

One might think that the stinging defeat of the so-called “comprehensive immigration reform bill” in Congress would bring this “p.r. problem” to the attention of the Adminstration. But there is little evidence that this has happened.

As for Mr. Chertoff, he stated at the UTEP Border Security Conference that he is still “disappointed” that Congress failed to pass the comprehensive reform bill, and because of the failure of Congress, customs and immigration officers have now had their workloads increased. Chertoff further stated “We’re faced with a system where our customs and immigration officers are saddled with the need to pursue people who are coming here to work, which distracts them from pursuing those who are coming to do harm.” Implicit in this statement from Mr. Chertoff is another example of his tone-deaf stance towards an injustice that Americans are angry about - - the reality that those who are “coming here to work” broke our nation’s laws getting here in the first place.

In concluding his presentation, Mr. Chertoff stated “In the end, it is very hard to secure the border with only brute force; it can be done, but it’s going to be a labor-intensive and time-consuming way to do it.”

So “brute force” is a problem. And doing things in a “labor-intensive” and “time-consuming” way is a problem, too. The Administration that has spent millions of American dollars and has spilled plenty of American blood to topple a brutal, murderous dictatorship in Iraq, now remains troubled by the task of securing our nation’s homeland.

This comparison may seem crude, or even inappropriate to some. But the Administration’s domestic security policy is viewed by the American people in the context of its’ foreign policy - - there is no separating the two. Like it or not, the American people perceive a mixed message from their government, and they are angry about it.

As for the “big new developments” on fighting illegal immigration, Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Gutierrez announced a twenty-six point plan on August 10th, three days before Chertoff spoke at the UTEP conference. The “plan” entailed such things as adding border security agents, border barriers, and expanding the forthcoming “border wall.” But Chertoff apparently didn’t see fit to talk about these “new developments” in El Paso, perhaps because some of the tougher aspects of the proposal may have seemed offensive to an audience on the southern border.

On can only hope that Washington fixes the “p.r. problem” sooner, rather than later.

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Austin Hill

Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.