The media calls this Bush seeking the middle ground on the immigration debate. The far right calls it a sellout or worse. The Left thinks that this is yet another move towards fascism - though many are bemused by all the infighting among the right.
I think AJ Strata has it correct. Open debate on the issues is one thing, but letting anger get in the way of reason and compromise will lead people down a road that will only get uglier.
The fact is that there is much to criticize in the plan, and from that criticism a better border security program could be forged if people are actually willing to compromise and get this done. Not that the Senate is doing anyone any favors by choosing to provide a guest worker program before doing anything to secure the borders. The latest Senate vote defeated a measure that would have put border control before the enactment of any guest worker program. I think that is a mistake to not engage in securing the border before working on a guest worker program.
John Podhoretz notes that there are those on the right who are pushing to have a single voice on this issue - and forcing a split on the immigration issue despite the absolute necessity of fixing the problem:
The immigration debate is a very heated and passionate one, and the heat and passion on the part of those on the restrictionist side have been useful tools for pushing the conversation in your direction. But there's a difference between heated disagreement and the insistence on lock-step uniformity. Suddenly, immigration restriction has become one of those issues about which one is not permitted to disagree, because to disagree is to join with the forces of Evil. Those who favor a less restrictive policy are said to be bought and paid for by Big Business, to want to oppress poor American minorities who can't earn a decent wage, and to seek the cultural destruction of America. Chief among these villains, it appears, is the president of the United States, whose efforts on behalf of conservative causes — from faith-based policies to stem-cell research to a strict-constructionist judiciary to entitlement reform and massive tax cuts — have all fallen down the memory hole. He is not a conservative, my e-mailers tell me. He is Jorge Arbusto, an agent of the Mexican government. And neither, by the way, am I, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and someone who left mainstream journalism to toil in the fields of conservative media when conservative media weren't cool, to put it mildly.Ed Morrissey notes:
This inability to stomach disagreement on a hot-button issue should be troubling to anyone and everyone who has found an intellectual home on the Right — in part to avoid the kind of crippling self-censorship that has afflicted the P.C. Left. We can see it at work, sadly, at the once-fine website Polipundit.com, which has served as a Big Tent for all sorts of conservative opinion over the past few years. Its proprietor, Polipundit, has become one of the most aggressively hostile voices of restriction in the blogosphere even as some of the posters there, like Lorie Byrd and DJ Drummond, have remained more firmly in the president's camp.
Well, if you build a fence, then you force traffickers to build tunnels -- which are expensive to create and cause enough activity to arouse suspicion. No one has seriously proposed that we build a fence and then forget about patrolling, interdiction, and investigation. The fence allows for more efficient use of those resources and forces violators into extraordinary measures in any attempt to defeat it. It's like saying that you won't build a fence around your property because people can climb over it whenever they want. Of course they can --- but the fence makes it clear that you intend to protect your property from trespassers.Getting a fence done along the entire border should be the centerpiece and hallmark of any reform package no matter what other components are included in the piece. A fence would enable better utilization of limited resources of the ICE and even the National Guard.
It really seems as if the White House wrote a speech to just pacify their critics instead of actually responding to their concerns. If this is how seriously the administration takes border security, then we need to bring a screeching halt to the immigration reform bill until that attitude changes.
Mexico is concerned that the US could be seen militarizing its borders - all while the Mexican government gives illegal aliens an assist to get across the border and into the US. Vincente Fox needs to be held accountable for his own actions, and building a fence is a good way to force Mexico to deal with its own problems instead of exporting them to the US.
Don Surber brings up the Reaganesque shining city on the hill theme - and says that it wasn't a gated community. He also thinks Bush hit the right notes in his speech.
Surber's impressions seem to be borne out by the latest polling:
CNN has a poll just up, and the results are staggeringly in the president's favor. 79 percent of those who watched had a very favorable or favorable view of the speech, and those who support the president's policies rose in number from 42 to 67 percent.Of course, that isn't stopping House GOPers from complaining about the plans.
Both Mac Ranger and The Anchoress have good posts on the subject. Mac Ranger relates his personal experience walking the border back in the 1980s. The issues haven't changed, the challenges haven't changed, and apparently neither has the willpower to work through these problems.
A Zogby poll finds that the nation is split on immigration control and the President's speech last nite. Go figure.
The thing about immigration and border control is that it's an issue that splits across party lines. Glenn Greenwald has a roundup of the negativity - and his commenters are rather gleeful at the reaction (something that I noted above).
QandO thinks this was too little too late. If that's the case, then we're too late by a couple of administrations (or decades). I don't think it's too late to get a good immigration and border control package done, but the Senate vote shows what has to be overcome here. Jeff Joyner notes that this speech clearly didn't mollify critics, especially on the right and far right. However, it might have improved things in the center.
Professor Bainbridge wonders why this speech was given at this point in time. Good question. It's an issue that should have been addressed right after 9/11 - along with clearing out the deadwood at CIA. 9/11 should have sent a clarion call to fix security related concerns - from intel gathering and analysis to border control, and many of those issues were dumped into a new entity DHS, which has done none of those
fix the problems. Creating a new bureaucracy will not fix the problem - only add to the number of people who can be used as a scapegoat or excuse for not fixing the problem. You can say X dollars has been spent on the problem, but if the money goes down the rabbit hole, you don't see results.
Technorati: bush, illegal alien, illegal immigration, border control, immigration