To sum up my reaction to President Bush's presidential address on immigration in one word it would have to be bullshit. This is the only presidential address that President Bush has made on immigration.
Let's go through his points -- which he's brought up over and over again and keeps trying to shove down America's throat. (full transcript here)
We must begin by recognizing the problems with our immigration system. For decades, the United States has not been in complete control of its borders. As a result, many who want to work in our economy have been able to sneak across our border – and millions have stayed.
At least the President isn't so delusional that he doesn't recognize that the 1986 amnesty, which included enforcement laws that have been ignored by him and his predecessors, have caused a massive problem.
Once here, illegal immigrants live in the shadows of our society. Many use forged documents to get jobs, and that makes it difficult for employers to verify that the workers they hire are legal. Illegal immigration puts pressure on public schools and hospitals ... strains state and local budgets ... and brings crime to our communities. These are real problems, yet we must remember that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are decent people who work hard, support their families, practice their faith, and lead responsible lives. They are a part of American life – but they are beyond the reach and protection of American law.
Illegal aliens do not live in the shadows. They can be spotted daily on the street corners hanging out. They can be spotted marching in our streets demanding rights. This "living in the shadows" thing is completely false.
To those of you out there who continue to deny that illegal aliens are a net loss to our country, well your hero who wants to grant 20 million illegal aliens amnesty just said it above. Let me repeat his words.
Illegal immigration puts pressure on public schools and hospitals ... strains state and local budgets ... and brings crime to our communities.
There it is. This man may not have the right solutions to the issue, but even as friendly as he is to illegal aliens and to Mexico, even he admits that illegal aliens are a net loss and bad for America. I wonder if he's ever consoled a citizen in this country who has suffered loss due to illegal aliens, such as the family of this policeman in Colorado who was shot in the back by an illegal alien.
I've covered these topics over the years such as "Educating the children of illegal alien's costs an estimated $28.6 billion a year", "Illegal Aliens Threaten New Jersey Hospitals", "Illegal Aliens Drive Another Hospital To Closure".
Claiming that illegal aliens are beyond the reach of American law is a travesty coming from our commander in chief. The only reason they are beyond the reach of the law is because we are not enforcing it. All of this can be laid at the feet of Congress and the President, whom both have done absolutely nothing since he was elected to change this fact.
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. So I support comprehensive immigration reform that will accomplish five clear objectives.
Laws are not being enforced because our government doesn't want to enforce them. It's as simple as that. They are worried about politics and not the nation when it comes to enforcing these laws.
I agree with him that immigration can continue and good for the country. However I don't think that illegal immigration is good for our country like he does. I don't think it's either secure, orderly or fair and giving them all amnesty and legal status is just ridiculous.
A lot of his first point is long winded so here's what he says in a nutshell:
- the United States must secure its borders. This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign Nation.
- The men and women of our Border Patrol are doing a fine job in difficult circumstances
- We do not yet have full control of the border
- By the end of 2008, we will increase the number of Border Patrol officers by an additional 6,000
- We will construct high-tech fences in urban corridors ... will employ motion sensors … infrared cameras … and unmanned aerial vehicles to prevent illegal crossings
- Up to 6,000 National Guard members will be deployed to our southern border
Border Patrol is doing as fine a job they can without adequate funding, support and increases in manpower under President Bush. It's his fault and policy that have caused them to have "difficult circumstances".
6,000 additional Border Patrol over the next two years is not enough. In 2004 an intelligence reform bill that passed authorized 10,000 new border patrol agents over 5 years. President Bush then only allocated funds for only 200 new agents. President Bush continues to claim that he has increased the Border Patrol, but when you don't fund the increases it's all a sham.
High tech fences are not cheaper than a low tech border fence and not as effective since they don't prevent illegal aliens from crossing, they simply have the potential to spot them.
For example, an unmanned aerial vehicle spotted 853,000 illegal aliens attempting to cross the border in a 3 month period during testing. The problem is that there is no prevention and apprehension. Paying a large group of personnel for simple apprehension year after year is a waste of money that would be better spent on a real wall.
The President says that up to 6,000 National Guard troops will be sent to the border to back up the Border Patrol. The problem with this statement is the up to part. This President has shown in the past that when he authorizes use he routinely then sends only a small portion or doesn't allocate funds for their use.
President Bush is also concerned with offending Mexico by cracking down on illegal aliens or sending troops to the border. He even went as far as notifying Mexico about the troops and that they would be temporary before he told American citizens. Why is he so concerned about what Mexico thinks? Mexico has had troops along our border for a long, long time, but when we decide to move troops there to do the job they are too unwilling or corrupt to do we're supposed to apologize? It's another ridiculous statement on his part.
More than 85 percent of the illegal immigrants we catch crossing the southern border are Mexicans, and most are sent back home within 24 hours. But when we catch illegal immigrants from other countries, it is not as easy to send them home. For many years, the government did not have enough space in our detention facilities to hold them while the legal process unfolded. So most were released back into our society and asked to return for a court date. When the date arrived, the vast majority did not show up. This practice, called “catch and release,” is unacceptable – and we will end it.
No one should be ashamed or feel racist for pointing out that the vast majority of our illegal alien problem is from Mexico. We continue to see people being called racist for pointing out this fact because they have no other argument to make. As far as "catch and release", this has been going on under this administration the whole time and the fact that it has taken them 5 years to even recognize that the people they were releasing weren't showing up for their immigration court dates is just pure incompetence.
Catching Mexicans and dumping them back across the border with no support from Mexico is just a worthless action. If Mexico is such a "friend" of the US they should be taking action to ensure that these illegal aliens aren't running straight for the border and attempting to cross again. But Mexico has no intentions of stemming the flow of illegal aliens into our country because since 2003 the money sent back from illegal aliens in America is Mexico's number one source of revenue. Remittances -- as they call them -- even surpasses Mexico's oil and tourist industries.
Second, to secure our border, we must create a temporary worker program. 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.
Therefore, I support a temporary worker program that would create a legal path for foreign workers to enter our country in an orderly way, for a limited period of time. 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.
A temporary worker program would meet the needs of our economy, and it would give honest immigrants a way to provide for their families while respecting the law. A temporary worker program would reduce the appeal of human smugglers – and make it less likely that people would risk their lives to cross the border. It would ease the financial burden on state and local governments, by replacing illegal workers with lawful taxpayers. And above all, a temporary worker program would add to our security by making certain we know who is in our country and why they are here.
He mentions walls and patrols above, but he has not suggested putting a wall up. All he has suggested is putting some cameras up. So his argument is flawed. I do agree that walls and patrols are not the only thing we need.
However, tying a temporary worker program to securing the southern border is not needed. They can be included in separate bills so that if one is failing it can be cut without losing the other successful one. It continues to be shoved down our throat that we need "comprehensive immigration reform. What does this mean? It means that they want both enforcement and things like guest worker and amnesty programs included in the same bills rather than separating them. The reason they want to do it this way is that illegal aliens supporters want illegal aliens here and they know that they'll compromise on some rights for illegal aliens if they can get the enforcement people to drop some of the programs they know will reduce illegal immigration, such as really prosecuting employers who hire illegal aliens.
Third, 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. ey part of that system should be a new identification card for every legal foreign worker. This card should use biometric technology, such as digital fingerprints, to make it tamper-proof. A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law – and leave employers with no excuse for violating itd 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.
I agree with most of the above, but would go even further. Social Security cards as a whole need to be more than some small piece of paper. He talks about using this technology only for incoming immigrants, but it needs to be implemented across the board for all. The rampant fraud and identity theft that is occurring in this country has devastated millions. Some think this is akin to a national ID, but I think of it more as a "working card".
What this has to do with an immigration bill is beyond me though. This should be in it's own bill and the "worker card" should be required for all in this country, both legal immigrants, residents and citizens.
Fourth, 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.
Some in this country argue that the solution is to deport every illegal immigrant – and that any proposal short of this amounts to amnesty. I disagree. It is neither wise nor realistic to round up millions of people, many with deep roots in the United States, and send them across the border. There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation. That middle ground recognizes that there are differences between an illegal immigrant who crossed the border recently – and someone who has worked here for many years, and has a home, a family, and an otherwise clean record. I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law … to pay their taxes … to learn English … and to work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship – but approval would not be automatic, and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law. What I have just described is not amnesty – it is a way for those who have broken the law to pay their debt to society, and demonstrate the character that makes a good citizen.
In my opinion there is no difference between the illegal alien who just jumped the border last month and one that managed to evade detection for 3 years and set up shop here. They both broke the same law and just because one was better at breaking that law and evading capture, does not mean that they should be given any special privileges for doing so.
They knew the risks when they came to this country illegally and they should have no right or ability to cry foul when they are caught and sent home. Having a home, job and some family here is no reason to overlook the fact that they should not have snuck in here in the first place. It may sound harsh, but that is the reality in my view.
Rewarding the best lawbreakers is not a good strategy.
His statement that they will be made to wait in the back of the line is a slap in the face to those who have applied to come here legally. While someone who applied legally to come to this country and is struggling day to day in Mexico, President Bush says that we should allow the illegal alien to stay here, since they already made it in and go about their business while their papers are processed. It's absolutely shameful to make a false statement and try to trick the American people into thinking that these people will be put behind those attempting to go by the book.
I'm going to skip Bush's fifth point which is "we must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot". This statement alone is attempting to place an anti-immigrant position on anyone who wants to crack down on illegal immigration. It's another false statement. Most of us who want to stop illegal immigration have no problems with immigration as a whole. We appreciate the melting pot. We appreciate the Chinese, Mexican, Italian and Indian restaurants and cultural areas in our nation.
To say that immigration reform has anything to do with being anti-immigrant is just total BS.
Tonight, I want to speak directly to Members of the House and the Senate: An immigration reform bill needs to be comprehensive, because all elements of this problem must be addressed together – or none of them will be solved at all. The House has passed an immigration bill. The Senate should act by the end of this month – so we can work out the differences between the two bills, and Congress can pass a comprehensive bill for me to sign into law.
This does not all need to be tackled in the same bill. Nothing will be solved if we pass an enforcement only bill Mr. President? If we crack down on employers, put up a wall, increase border patrol and restrict social services to only legal residents and citizens nothing will be solved?
I beg to differ and I'm not alone. By a ratio of 2:1 the American citizens prefer the enforcement only bill of the House over the "comprehensive" bill in the Senate. The American people want enforcement before we even start talking about how to handle illegal aliens already here or how much to increase legal immigration in the future.
Clearly these two issues can be separated. The only people who want them in the same bill are those looking for concessions on the enforcement side.
The President continues on with his touching story of a legal immigrant from Mexico who joined the Marines and wanted to gain citizenship after being injured in Iraq. I have already commented on this portion of his speech where he once again confuses the issue of illegal immigrants and those here legally.
That wraps up my take on the whole truth about President Bush's Presidential Address on Immigration.
If you have comments on the presidential address feel free to make yourself heard in the comments below (or send a trackback if you have a post on this).
Hugh Hewitt who liked the speech until he interviewed ICE head Julie Myers, who had no clue about the fence and opposes it. Hugh realized that the enforcement portions f the speech were all just lip service at that point. Don't be fooled like Hugh initially was.
Right Wing News
Overall grade for the speech: F
Update #2: Here's the "whoops" moment of the night. The RNC sent out an email to bloggers called, Blog Reaction: "A Very Good Start," which referred people to Hugh Hewitt's post about the speech. That's understandable, because Hugh's commentary was initially positive. But then, Hugh added this in an update:
HAHA! That's hilarious!
Stop The ACLU who liveblogged and played the drinking game.
All Things Beautiful
The Glittering Eye
Outside The Beltway
Tapscott's Copy Desk
Leaning Straight Up
The Galvin Opinion
Allah over at Hot Air