From the Houston Chronicle:
President Bush urged lawmakers today to come together on the complex and emotional issue of immigration, calling it “a critical challenge” now before the nation.
“We need a system where our laws are respected. We need a system that meets the legitimate needs of our economy. And we need a system that treats people with dignity and helps newcomers assimilate into our society,” he said in his weekly radio address. “We must address all elements of this problem together, or none of them will be solved at all.”
There are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country, and passions run high on what to do about them. Bush wants to establish a temporary worker program for some of them and create a path to citizenship — albeit a difficult one — for many. He says it is unrealistic to propose that millions of people be deported.
What he likes to call comprehensive immigration reform was once Bush’s top domestic priority.
But the president was stymied by members of his own party
David Broussard, a friend of mine, recently wrote about immigration from what I call the traditional conservative perspective, one that disapproves of any sort of amnesty for the current crop of illegals.
Bush should ignore these critics. They are unrealistic and he should, as usual, stick to his agenda. Not only is this one area of governance he understands, he is also correct: the 12 million, mostly Mexican illegals the U.S. allowed to come here and work, many for years, are not going home. Period. Any plan that doesn’t start with that reality is doomed to failure.
More from the Chronicle:
The new approach would require fines, trips back home, long waits and hefty penalties. Conservatives still called it overly permissive, essentially amnesty for illegal behavior.
Most national polls show Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of an immigration overhaul that would allow those here illegally to stay, work and earn their way to legal status.
Hopefully Congress will listen to the people who voted them into office. Republicans failed to give us what we wanted on many issues and they were rebuked; Democrats should face the same fate if they fail to deliver a solution on this critical issue.
Given that illegals won’t leave voluntarily – think about it, that’s why they’re illegals, after all – two critical things must be done. First, the “good” illegals, the vast majority, must be put on the path to citizenship and productivity, as Bush suggested.
Second, the inflow of illegals must be stopped. Not reduced or slowed. Stopped. The current state of the border and the Border Patrol will not allow this happen. The National Guard was deployed but not given authority to act. The Border Patrol acts, often ineffectively, and is not supported when they do, as in the Ramos and Compean case David referred to and of which we are all aware.
Desperate to try something, anything, that might work, last year the Border Patrol proposed to start try illegals for their crimes instead of shipping them back to Mexico. This plan failed to even get off the ground:
New Mexico’s federal judges reminded the Border Patrol that they lacked the resources to handle the hundreds of new defendants who would stream into the court system every day.
“We said, ‘Do you realize that the second week into this we’re going to run out of (jail) space?'” Martha Vazquez, chief judge for the District of New Mexico, recalled telling Border Patrol chief David Aguilar.
Sending illegals back is expensive and futile; they simply come back again. Charging them is futile too: our justice system can’t handle it. Nor should it have to. The border simply needs to be sealed, regardless of what it takes. This has been needed since 9/11 and little progress has been made. (Last fall’s passage of bill to construct a partial fence along some parts of the border was more symbolic than practical.)
This means that the National Guard will have to actively seek out and deny entry to Mexicans attempting to enter the country illegally. There is the potential for bloodshed and a lessening in the quality of our relationship with Mexico. Sadly, that is the price that must be paid to correct years of border mismanagement by both Bush and Clinton administrations.
If this is done, there will no doubt be a great hew and cry raised by liberals in this country decrying our national cruelty at denying the illegals’ human rights. But make no mistake: illegal immigrants are not refugees. They choose to abandon their own country and live here as aliens instead of striving to create a Mexico in which they could prosper. The voluntary nature of illegal immigration removes from the U.S. any burden of acceptance.
We will also hear from foreign enemies and domestic critics who, bereft of any rational argument, perpetually throw the Statue of Liberty’s inscription in our faces:
Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free…
A great and noble idea, that, and one that was implemented with great success in an America whose land mass was essentially unpopulated. Now, many decades later, nearly 300,000,000 people live here, in the greatest nation to ever exist. There is no more land to be had for the taking, no more wilderness to be tamed.
All giveaways of free stuff, whether land, food, or cold, hard case, eventually have to come to an end, as unfortunate as that is. Circumstances change, nations change with them. On this issue it is not the United States that must change, it is Mexico.