Monday, May 15, 2006

My Response to the Excerpts

I've gotten ahold of the excerpts to tonight's presidential address:
On the President’s vision for comprehensive immigration reform:
“We are a Nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws. We are also a Nation of immigrants, and we must uphold that tradition, which has strengthened our country in so many ways. These are not contradictory goals – America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time. We will fix the problems created by illegal immigration, and we will deliver a system that is secure, orderly, and fair.”
Sounds great, but what have you done since 2000 that goes to improve border security - especially since 9/11.
On Border Security:
“Since I became President, we have increased funding for border security by 66 percent, and expanded the Border Patrol from about 9,000 to 12,000 agents. . . .we have apprehended and sent home about six million people entering America illegally.
And how much of that six million was a revolving door population who kept getting caught? Increasing the number of agents is a drop in the bucket considering that the pace of illegal immigration has accelerated due to the Mexican government pushing more people to cross the border illegally.
“Despite this progress, we do not yet have full control of the border, and I am determined to change that. Tonight I am calling on Congress to provide funding for dramatic improvements in manpower and technology at the border."
Well, the devil is in the details.
On the Importance of a Temporary Worker Program to relieve pressure on the border:

“The reality is that there are many people on the other side of our border who will do anything to come to America to work and build a better life. They walk across miles of desert in the summer heat, or hide in the back of 18-wheelers to reach our country. This creates enormous pressure on our border that walls and patrols alone will not stop. To secure the border effectively we must reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across."
Yes, people are coming to the US in record numbers because this country is still the shining beacon on top of the mountain. People want to come here because this is still the best place to live as compared to anywhere else in the world. Yet, illegal immigration undermines and undercuts national security, so securing the borders is the absolute minimum that this Administration should do. It should be the first and foremost step - not an afterthought.
On enforcing our laws:
“. . . we need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire. It is against the law to hire someone who is in this country illegally. Yet businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees, because of the widespread problem of document fraud. Therefore, comprehensive immigration reform must include a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility . . .

“A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law – and leave employers with no excuse for violating it. And by making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work in our country, we would discourage people from crossing the border illegally in the first place.”
That sounds like an improvement over the current situation, but stemming the tide of illegal immigration would improve the situation as well. The onus cannot be on the individual businesses for declaring illegal immigrants. Yet, those businesses hiring and relying on illegal aliens for their workforce should be punished harshly. And those illegal aliens should be punished as well.
On the President’s opposition to amnesty:
“. . . we must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are already here. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully – and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration."
Well, the guest worker program sounds an awful lot like an amnesty program that speeds the path to citizenship and normalization of status to millions here illegally - jumping ahead of those who came here legally, honored their documentation papers and sought to become legal residents of this country.
On assimilation:
“. . . we must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot, which has made us one Nation out of many peoples. The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society, and embrace our common identity as Americans. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly, and an ability to speak and write the English language.”
Again, this sounds good but is sure to get the chattering classes in a huff because it puts English ahead of other languages.

I look forward to reading through the final transcript from tonight's speech, and, as always, the devil is in the details of what the Administration is proposing to do to deal with the issue of illegal immigration.

Now, some folks, like Sen. Schumer and Sen. Lautenberg, are complaining already about the idea of sending troops to the border to deal with illegal immigration across the border. Lautenberg says he wants to know where the troops are coming from and whether it would take away troops from other critical missions.

Here's a novel idea - take troops stationed in Europe and bring them home and post them stateside in bases along and near the border. The cost? Far less than stationing them abroad.

Lots of folks are going to be liveblogging the speech. The Truth Laid Bear has a full roundup. So does Stop the ACLU.

Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald tries to make sense of the right's consideration of impeaching Bush over the failure to deal with border control and fulfilling his oath. That's an idea put forth by Confederate Yankee, among others.

Geraldo wants to know who will do the jobs that illegal aliens are doing now. Here's a hint - we will. It might cost folks more, but the jobs will get done and push unemployment down even further.

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