The president has just served up some domestic policy, a sweeping immigration overhaul, that seems too tough to swallow. Here's hoping Congress sends it back.
Basically, the plan Bush is pitching would confer legal status on millions of illegal aliens who work in this country -- and who, by the way, have already committed a felony in being here. It would grant such aliens guest-worker status for three to six years, provided they have employers who vouch for their jobs. During that same period of time, an amnestied worker could apply for a green card, or permanent residency (an act that currently triggers such an alien's deportation), although he would, under Bush's plan, already enjoy the fruits of permanent residency status, including Social Security benefits and the right to travel from and return to the United States. He could even bring family members into the United States. The same goes for foreign nationals who would seek to participate in the plan, provided they found employment in this country.
This sounds an awful lot like "amnesty" for those who are here illegally, and "welcome" to those who haven't made the trip. The plan sends a "mixed message" at best, as Michael Cutler, a former special agent for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, told CNN's Lou Dobbs. "(O)n the one hand, we don't want you to run the border, but on the other hand, if you do, we'll let you work here and we'll do everything we can to make it convenient for you." He worries that a "human tidal wave" will wash over our borders "if this becomes the way we do business."
All of which sounds like a good way to ensure that the government never gains control of the nation's borders. And isn't that Point A of homeland security? All the more reason to be depressed that it was Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge who sent up the trial balloon on the plan last month when he said that we, as a country, must "come to grips" with the 8 to 12 million illegal aliens in this country. The security czar's bright idea was not to enforce long-flouted existing laws to address the problem, but rather to "afford (illegal aliens) some kind of legal status." While this inkling of amnesty alarmed some 35 members of Congress, who wrote and asked the secretary for clarification and argued against "rewarding people who violate our immigration laws," the issue was lost in the holiday shuffle. Now, in this new (election) year, we must "come to grips" with the president's proposal.