When it comes to dealing with the illegal immigration issue, President Bush and his administration are their own worst enemies. On other issues, the president is sugar and spice when it comes to Democrat opponents. But when it comes to rule-of-law conservative opposition to his “amnesty” proposal, the preferred method of operation is akin to thwacking the hornet’s nest with a stick.
You may recall that when the Minutemen first brought this issue to major public attention a few years ago with their volunteer border patrols, President Bush called them “vigilantes.” And it’s been pretty much all downhill from there, leading to his big May 29 speech on the current immigration reform proposal at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Georgia.
The president began his remarks by introducing two Hispanic members of his administration, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and former Cabinet member Mel Martinez, now a U.S. Senator from Florida. Both were born in Cuba. “I want to mention those two men because, to me, they represent what the immigration debate is all about,” the president said.
So right out of the chute the president misrepresents the issue. I don’t believe Gutierrez and Martinez are illegal immigrants. They and/or their families immigrated here legally. And it appears both came here to escape the oppression of the Castro regime, not to simply get a higher-paying job. So Gutierrez and Martinez are NOT what this immigration debate is about. The issue is over those who break the law to get here.
The president then recounted exactly what the individuals training at FLETC were there for: “You’re going to safeguard our ports of entry, you’ll investigate workplace immigration violations, and you’ll arrest those breaking the law. We are a nation of laws, and we expect people to keep the laws. And if they break the laws, there will be a consequence.”
Yes, and according the president that consequence for some 10-12 million (and counting) illegal aliens who have already broken the law is…a path to citizenship.
And the president still doesn’t understand why so many people are opposed to this?
The president then patted his own administration on the back for how significantly it’s changed immigration enforcement over the years. “One way to measure how things have changed is look at the budget,” the president said. “We’ve doubled the funding for border security since I took office.”
Yes, that’s one way to measure how things have changed; usually the Democrats’ way. Simply throwing more money at a problem doesn’t fix it. If it did, the public school system in this country would be the envy of the world. It’s not. This type of “mo’ money” mentality is part of the reason why the president has lost so much of his fiscal conservative base since taking office.
The president next insisted that his administration has taken border security seriously. “As a matter of fact,” the president said, “we take it so seriously that I asked the governors to put some National Guard troops down there until our Border Patrol agents got trained.”
As if. The president was dragged kicking and screaming to put troops on the border. The governors of California, Arizona and New Mexico took the lead in this regard because Washington and the Bush administration refused to act. The Bush folks only finally and reluctantly took border enforcement seriously because they were forced to. It’s rather disingenuous to now try to take credit for that action.
Next the president took credit for ending what became known as “catch-and-release,” the process whereby an illegal alien was caught, arrested and then released with the understanding that the illegal alien would return for a deportation hearing. “Well, the problem was the people didn’t want to come back for their hearing,” Bush explained. “They generally wanted to go to work and so they would just disappear.”
Good grief. According to this statement, illegal aliens didn’t show up for their deportation hearings because they didn’t want to lose time on their job, not because they didn’t want to be sent back home. And he said it with a straight face. Talk about misrepresentation.
Nevertheless, the president took credit for ending catch-and-release, saying, “It sends a strong signal to people: If you come to the country, we will find you, and we’re going to send you home, so don’t try to come in the first place.”
This is laughable. Earlier this month there were protests and demonstrations all across the country by illegal aliens. It was on all the networks. So it didn’t exactly require Dick Tracy to find people who have entered this country illegally. They were giving media interviews, for crying out loud! Now exactly how many of those folks were on the receiving end of the president’s “strong signal” and were sent home? I mean their home in their native country, not the one here.
The president next talked tough about cracking down on businesses who hire illegal aliens - as though employers are somehow responsible for doing one of the few constitutionally mandated jobs of the federal government. “It’s against the law to hire somebody who is here illegally. That’s the law,” the president declared. “And the message to employers, if you’re hiring somebody here that you know is illegal, we’re going to - - there’s a consequence to be paid. That’s what a nation that bases its system on rule of law does.”
So a restaurant owner who only wants to hire someone who will show up on time and wash the dishes is going to pay a criminal price if the employee turns out to be an illegal alien who somehow slipped past the president’s new-and-improved, tough-as-nails border security measures. But what about the illegal alien who broke the law in the first place, putting the poor restaurant owner in jeopardy? Why, he gets a path to citizenship! What a deal.
Employers shouldn’t be responsible for immigration enforcement. How is the average small business owner supposed to know if the Social Security card and driver’s license he’s presented with by a job applicant is real or a forgery? And if he decides to do a little extra checking because the applicant has a Hispanic name, he gets nailed for “profiling.” The poor schlub is in a no-win situation.
The president next complimented ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency) for making “more than 3,000 arrests for immigration violations since the beginning of this fiscal year.”
Great, only 9,997,000 to go…give or take a few million. Not bad for 15,000 employees on a bare-bones taxpayer-funded budget of just $4.2 billion. That would be one arrest for every five employees at a cost of only $1.4 million per arrest. Yep, we’re really getting our bang for our buck there, aren’t we?
OK, yes, that was two parts sarcasm mixed with one part hyperbole on my part. But if the president’s gonna do it, so am I.
Now we get to one of my favorite lines from the president’s speech: “It’s important for our American citizens to understand that the immigration system is in desperate need for comprehensive reform.”
No, Mr. President. The American people understand this issue perfectly well. We do not need “comprehensive” new immigration laws; we simply need to enforce the existing laws.
We tried this “amnesty” thing some 20 years ago. Gave just about everyone who was illegally in the country a blanket get-out-of-jail-free card. Now, 20 non-enforcement years later, you want the American people to believe that if we just give you your guest-worker program - complete with a path to citizenship for people who have entered the country illegally – then you’ll really, really, really start enforcing the immigration laws of this nation.
Sorry, but in the immortal words of Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott of the Starship Enterprise: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Or as The Who succinctly put it, “We won’t get fooled again.”
And while we’re on the subject of trying to fool most of the people some of the time, the president again reiterated what is perhaps the biggest fraud of this entire illegal immigration debate; that illegal aliens are doing “jobs Americans aren’t doing.” He repeated the claim multiple times during the remainder of the speech.
“There are no such jobs,” pointed out economist Thomas Sowell recently. “Even in the sector of the economy in which illegal immigrants have the highest representation -- agriculture -- they are just 24 percent of the workers. Where did the other 76 percent come from, if these are jobs that Americans won't do?” So much for that argument.
It was at this point that the president became down-right insulting.
First he praised senators “who put politics aside and put courage first” in supporting his “comprehensive” bill. He applauded them for doing “what’s right, not what’s comfortable” in the face of criticism. Or put another way, those of us who don’t support his amnesty-by-another-name proposal are cowards who are wrong and are simply playing politics.
The president next said, “A lot of Americans are skeptical about immigration reform primarily because they don’t think the government can fix the problems.” (Well…duh) “And my answer to the skeptics is…give us a chance to fix this problem.” The president continued: “For decades we have not been in complete control of the borders and many people have lost faith in our capacity to get control of the borders. (Well…duh) I ask them to look at what’s taken place over the past years, recent years.”
Ummm…they are, Mr. President. The government has had over 20 years to fix this problem since the last amnesty was sold to us. And you have presided over the last six. We tend to think we’ve given y’all plenty of chances to fix this problem already. Our patience has grown thin.
Next the president advised that his bill would “promote tamper-resistant identification cards…that some document forger can’t foist off as a document for somebody to come and pick peaches here in Georgia.” The president desperately wants us to believe this whole issue is about nothing more than peach-picking in Georgia. Totally disingenuous.
But this tamper-resistant ID card idea presents a whole host of additional problems and new concerns for both American workers and employers. Will you and I, American citizens, have to get one of these new tamper-resistant ID cards in order to pick peaches in Georgia? I don’t know about you, but I’m not good with that.
But if every prospective peach-picker isn’t required to present a tamper-resistant ID card, how’s an employer supposed to know which applicants are legal and which aren’t? And the first time an employer asks an American citizen named Julio Valdez to present a tamper-resistant ID card, he opens himself to a rash of lawsuits and EEOC complaints. So while this tamper-resistant ID card sounds great on the surface, it’s a whole new nightmare (unless you’re a lawyer or government bureaucrat) waiting to happen.
At this point, the president began singing the praises of his proposed amnesty…er, guest-worker plan. “If you’re interested in securing the border, wouldn’t you rather have Border Patrol agents chasing down terrorists and gun runners and dope runners as opposed to people who are coming to do jobs Americans aren’t doing?”
What the president is saying here is that if you oppose his “comprehensive” immigration reform proposal, then you’re responsible for terrorists, gun runners and drug dealers not being caught. But the really outrageous thing about this statement is the fact that there are two Border Patrol agents sitting in jail right now - Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean - for chasing down a notorious drug smuggler, shooting him in the butt and capturing him. Funny how the president failed to mention that. Disgraceful that he hasn’t yet issued a pardon for these Border Patrol agents.
Time to talk about “amnesty.”
“Amnesty is forgiveness for being here without any penalties, that’s what amnesty is,” the president explained. “I oppose it. The authors, many of the authors of this bill oppose it. This bill is not an amnesty bill. If you want to scare the American people, what you say is the bill is an amnesty bill. It’s not an amnesty bill. That’s empty political rhetoric, trying to frighten our fellow citizens.”
Talk about empty political rhetoric. Here we go again with the ol’ Humpty Dumpty routine: “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean – nothing more nor less."
As the president explains, his “not amnesty” bill will allow an illegal alien to apply for a “Z” visa. To get the “Z” visa, which will enable him or her to continue working here, the illegal alien “must admit they violated the law and pay a meaningful penalty, pass a strict background check, hold a job, maintain a clean record, and eventually learn English.” Then, if the illegal alien who broke the nation’s immigration laws to get here wants to become an actual citizen, he or she “would first have to pay an additional fine” and “return home to file an application for your green card.”
Let’s put this in another perspective: If I break into Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts home and move into one of his spare bedrooms, as long as I pay a fine, pass a background check, keep a job, stay out of trouble and speak drunkenese, I can continue to live there.
And if I just pay a little bit more of a fine, I can actually become a member of the Kennedy family, as long as I return briefly to Nevada and fill out some paperwork. The fact that I broke the law by breaking into his home in the first place doesn’t mean I have to move out. I’m forgiven, and won’t suffer any penalty other than having to pay a little fine.
But that’s not amnesty, right?
Back to the president bashing opponents of his “not amnesty” bill.
“This reform is complex. There’s a lot of emotions around this issue. Convictions run deep. Those determined to find fault with this bill will always be able to look at a narrow slice of it and find something they don’t like. If you want to kill the bill, if you don’t want to do what’s right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it, you can use it to frighten people.”
Un…be…lievable. According to the president, Americans whose “convictions run deep” on this “complex” and “emotional” issue “don’t want to do what’s right for America.” And the amnesty aspect of the proposal isn’t anything major; heck, it’s only a “narrow slice” of the bill. And anyone who disagrees is just trying to “frighten” people. Talk about how to win friends and influence people.
Well, at least he didn’t call us all a bunch of vigilantes this time. So I guess that’s progress. But if I wasn’t offended by the bill itself before, I am by the president’s insulting characterizations of opponents in this speech, along with his mischaracterizations of the issue. And that’s enough for me to conclude that this latest “comprehensive” reform scheme still sucks eggs and deserves a quick and painful death. Hasta la vista, baby.