Addressing a gathering of Hispanics last week, President Bush declared: "There are those here in Washington who say, 'Why don't we just find the folks and send them home.' That ain't gonna work."
Well, deportation certainly "ain't gonna work" if the chief law enforcement officer of the United States refuses to enforce the law, as Bush has refused for five years.
But as is his custom, President Bush is attacking a straw man. Few in this debate call for creation of a national police to begin Palmer Raid roundups of nannies. The agreed-upon strategy for dealing with this crisis of Bush's creation is, in a word, attrition.
The crucial steps are these. Build a fence along the 2,000-mile border to stop the flood. End welfare benefits to illegal aliens, except emergency medical treatment. Vigorously prosecute employers who hire illegals. Cease granting automatic citizenship to "anchor babies" of illegals who sneak across the border to have them. Take care of mother and child, then put them on a bus back home.
Turn off the magnets, and the illegals will not come. Cut off the benefits, and they will not stay. In five years, the crisis will be over.
As this is what America wants, the Bush-Kennedy bill that came out of the Senate -- providing amnesty to almost all the 12 million to 20 million illegals here and a blanket pardon for the scofflaw businesses that have hired them -- is dead. It simply cannot pass the House.
The report by Heritage Foundation expert Robert Rector, who estimated the Senate bill could mean 66 million more immigrants in the next 20 years, delivered the coup de grace.
But because the Senate bill cannot pass the House does not mean Bush, the ethnic lobbies and corporate America have given up.
Which brings us to the Pence plan, named for the conservative congressman from Indiana who heads the House Republican Conference and was the 2005 Man of the Year to the conservative Human Events weekly.
In "The Godfather," Don Corleone warns his son Michael that, after he dies, someone inside the family will come to Michael with an offer of peace from the Barzinis, who murdered Michael's brother. Whoever brings you the offer, Don Corleone warns his son, will have betrayed you. Tessio, lifetime friend and high-ranking captain of the Corleones, comes to Michael with Barzini's offer. A mistake.
Rep. Mike Pence appears to have accepted the Tessio role in the great immigration battle of 2006.
As Bush backs away from the Senate bill ("we don't have to choose between the extremes -- there's a rational middle ground"), Pence uses identical rhetoric to describe his plan, now being hailed by Newt Gingrich, Gary Bauer, David Keene of the American Conservative Union and The American Spectator. It looks like the fix is in.
Pence calls his plan a "middle ground" proposal, a "no amnesty immigration reform" in which "securing our border is the first step."
This is fraudulent. At the heart of the Pence plan is amnesty. Illegal aliens here return to Mexico for one week with an assurance they can come back to their jobs. Down there, they visit "Ellis Island Centers" to register as "guest workers" and return with "work permits." The illegal are made legal and put on a path to citizenship.
The only difference between the Pence plan and the Kennedy-Bush amnesty is the one-week vacation employers would happily fund, as it means blanket amnesty for them as well as their illegal hires.
What makes the Pence plan insidious is that Mike Pence has an unimpeachable pedigree. What makes his plan a grave problem is that even Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the Horatius at the Bridge in this battle, is speaking favorably of it.
Why is Pence proposing capitulation at the moment Americans are looking to the Republican House as their last, best hope to kill the Senate amnesty, end the "guest-worker" scam and get control of America's borders before we lose our country?
Answer: The forces in Washington pushing for an amnesty deal, by whatever name, are immense -- the White House, the ethnic lobbies, the Big Media, mainstream churches, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the "conservative" front groups and foundations they finance, and corporate contributors to congressmen who fear law enforcement. Then there is a Democratic Party that voted 10-to-one in the Senate for amnesty, as it looks to legalized aliens as future voters to bury the conservative cause forever in this city.
Anyone who thinks the establishment has given up because it has lost the country does not know it. Behind closed doors, deals are even now being discussed for a "compromise" bill that will give GOP congressmen cover for selling out the cause for which they bravely voted in December.
If the House buys the Pence plan, it will be the end of Republican control of the House in November and the end of Mike Pence as a rising star of the GOP. But that will not matter. For the consequences for the country will be irremediable and infinitely worse.