And is it just conservatives who think the United States ought not be gratuitously squandering one of its greatest assets -- its magnetic attraction to would-be immigrants around the world? There are tens of millions of people who want to leave their homes and come to America. We essentially have an NFL draft where the United States has the first, oh, million or so draft picks. And rather than exercising those picks, i.e., choosing by whatever criteria we want -- such as education, enterprise, technical skills and creativity -- we admit the tiniest fraction of the best and brightest and permit millions of the unskilled to pour in instead.
The president's speech made a fine case for temporary workers. But what possible confidence can we have that when the time comes to return home, they will not stay on? After all, having lived here for years, they would have an infinitely easier time melting into American society than the current millions of illegals who wandered into places they knew nothing about and successfully melted in.
I am not against legalization. Admittedly, legalization is desperately unfair to the further millions who have been waiting in line at U.S. consulates around the world. And by itself, it would only encourage future illegals. But if coupled with a program that closes down the border, it would make sense. It would resolve the problem once and for all.
Serious border enforcement is what's missing in the president's "comprehensive'' program. And that is why so many ``conservatives'' are extremely unhappy. Not out of nativism. There are many like me who cannot wait to end the shadow life of the illegals. But doing so while fraudulently promising to close the border is a simple capitulation -- and an invitation to the next president to declare the next amnesty for the next torrent of illegals who will have understood from the Bush program that crossing the border at night and finding a place to hide is the surest road to the American dream.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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