Cross posted from Red Hot Cuppa Politics
There are a couple of things I appreciate about President Bush. First, he always starts his speeches when he's supposed to. Second, he doesn't get windy.
Last night, he used two phrases in the first thirty seconds of the speech which I appreciated. First, he mentioned the massive protests: On the streets of major cities, crowds have rallied in support of those in our country illegally. Second, he finally (sort of) admitted there's a problem at the border: For decades, the United States has not been in complete control of its borders … okay — so the ocean's a little wet, but it's a start.
Anyway, here's what Mr. Bush is willing to do about illegal immigration, outlined in a five point plan:
1) Secure the borders.
Bush plans to send 6000 National Guard troops to the borders. It's not much, it'll consist of a two week rotation for Guard units, and I'm not sure that the Guardsmen will be doing that the MinuteMen aren't already doing, since the Guard's not supposed to be allowed to engage in law enforcement activities — which also skirts Posse Comitatus.
I'm wondering why bother, except it might help acculturate our troops to the heat in Iraq. I hope the two week deployments don't interfere with training our Guardsmen need to cope with deployment to the Middle East.
The committment of troops would last one year, and Bush pointedly said we do not plan to militarize the border. I'm also wondering if this is a response to the MinuteMen's demand that Bush send troops by Memorial Day, or the MinuteMen start building their wall.
He also talked about alot of high tech surveillance gadgets, which you know are going to malfunction in the desert heat, but ohwell, maybe that's just me. Again, geezers with lawnchairs and binoculars are doing the job of multi-million dollar surveillane drones, and they're doing it without taxpayer support.
To the positive, Bush wants to increase funding and provide training to local law enforcement authorities, and hire more Border Patrol agents. That's a good thing — let's also curb State Department interference with deportation, and eliminate the "never-never" land that INS bureaucrats inhabit.
And, Bush said he really wants to end "catch and release." Good. How about instituting "catch and deport." We don't need more detention facilities — just boomerang illegals back across the border.
2) Temporary worker program.
This program would match willing foreign workers with willing American employers for jobs Americans are not doing. Every worker who applies for the program would be required to pass criminal background checks. And temporary workers must return to their home country at the conclusion of their stay.
This can work if the border's sealed, and if there's a type of identification that can't be forged, i.e., biometric ID's. But, they need to go home when the work permit expires, and refrain from inviting their entire extended families over for the duration.
3) Hold American employers accountable:
Two steppin' here. While Bush talked about how hard it is currently to decide who's an illegal employee and who's not — he doesn't mention consequences for American bosses. And, here's where he talks about those biometric ID's, which can't be forged.
4) Path to citizenship for those already here
Bush wants a middle ground between amnesty and mass deportation, and outlines the requirements of paying a penalty for breaking the law, back taxes, and learning English for those who have been here for a number of years who want to stay.
He didn't mention deporting illegals who are newly arrived, or felons. Nor did he mention why any illegal immigrant in their right mind would volunteer to pay thousands of dollars — or how he's going to convince the ACLU, and our school systems that English is a beautiful thing, having just as much validity as minority languages.
5) Honor the great tradition of the American "melting" pot.
Well, that's true. Every single American citizen is descended from immigrants — even the Native Americans crossed the Bering Straits a few thousand years ago. But, the past 20-30 years, we have not acted like we expect anyone to actually act like they're American. We have Hispanic Americans … African Americans … Native Americans … Asian Americans … Arab Americans … and so forth. The fingers have become more important than the hand.
At the end of the speech, he mentioned a wounded Marine who'd served in Iraq, and still wasn't a citizen. C'mon — if anyone's willing to bleed and die with our military, their citizenship should be automatic on the day he or she signs up.
Mostly, it seems like the President is turfing the issue back to the Senate, and would be happy to support the whatever Senate pander-ance bill is sent to him.
So, it's still up to us. If we want illegal immigration reform, we need to continue to pressure our Republican Senate Gerbils — oops, I mean Distinguished Senate Majority — and maybe remind them that this is the issue that can, and will, break the Republican party, and send their own sorry selves packing back to whatever state they came from.
In service of our efforts, check out the Immigration Report Card, which grades every US Senator and Representative on their efforts regarding illegal immigration reform. Kay Bailey Hutchison gets a B-, as does John Cornyn. I'd have marked her a little higher, particularly after watching her response to how the Kyl-Cornyn amendment was stifled.
If we want that reform, let's dig in and "git 'er done."
Click to the CoalitionBlog later today for commentary on the President's speech, and for the latest in illegal immigration reform. Some of the group have already posted articles; there's a round-up going on at the AmboyTimes. Laura, over at PursuingHoliness, did some live blogging, and prefaces her post with some astute comments about election day. Valgerd has a passionate, point by point response. ProudAmerican posts the text, and a fiery response. Brian also very cooperatively posts the transcript, and will write about it when he's had a chance to think about it (wise man, I'll be dropping by later).
Republican gerbils need to take close note of ChristiKing's assessment of what she calls 20 minutes of the the biggest bunch of BS she's ever seen: Make no mistake, this is a man that I have viciously defended for the past 5 years. This is a man that had my total loyalty. This is a man that I trusted and believed in and what do I get? What do all Conservative Republicans get in return? …Betrayal ..To all of the liberals I have ever debated, I sincerely apologize. I was wrong. This man is freaking dangerous. This man is willing to sell out our nation.
Also, take a look at the (ever)DiscerningTexan's sober article about the speech. He's encouraging Mr. Bush to walk the walk — or else, we face the real prospect of Speaker Nancy Pelosi spending the next two years on endless partisan "inquiries," and Iran sending Israel (or someplace) into a nuclear halocaust …
**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email the coalition and let Brian know at which level you would like to participate.**