May 19, 2006

An Overview of Recent News & Opinions About Illegal Immigration Debate, Part I

Recent days have been particularly active times in the illegal immigration debate. Since it is difficult to keep up with all that is going on, this is the first of five postings which will present excerpts from a range of news and opinion articles across the MSM and the blogging world.


An earlier posting contains many links to illegal immigration news events dating back more than 7-10 days from the date of this posting - including the May Day protests.


Power Line had some particularly insightful postings immediately preceding President Bush's immigration speech:

Free Advice for President Bush

...The time has come, though, to go on national television and say you were wrong, and you've changed your mind. About immigration.

Give a major speech in prime time. Say that you still think that a long-term solution to the immigration issue should include a guest worker program. Acknowledge, however, that many Americans disagree and there is currently no consensus on a long-range policy. Say that, more fundamentally, you're now convinced that our first priority has to be getting control over our borders. Until we control our borders, and know who is coming and going, any immigration policy we may announce will be meaningless anyway.

So, discussion about long-term approaches to immigration will continue. But in the meantime, your priority will be securing the borders and enforcing the laws currently on the books. Which means that the crackdown on employers of illegals will be expanded. Announce some specific measures to begin securing the Mexican border, preferably including some kind of fence...

He Had His Chance...

...As soon as he started talking about guest worker programs and the impossibility of deporting 11 million illegals, it was all over. President Bush keeps trying to find the middle ground, on this and many other issues. But sometimes, there isn't a viable middle ground. This is one of those instances...

How to read the speech, which includes a link to a John O'Sullivan prospective analysis of Bush's speech:

...I shall advise you on how to interpret President Bush's speech on immigration that you heard last night but that was delivered several hours after this column was written. Very simply: Ask yourselves the following questions:

Did the president use the phrase ''comprehensive immigration reform'' several times? That's revealing because this phrase is an example of smuggling. He hopes that by wrapping a ''temporary guest-worker program'' and the ''not an amnesty'' provision to legalize the 12 million illegals already here -- both of which are unpopular -- inside a tough-sounding popular promise to secure the border with the National Guard, he will persuade most Americans to accept the first two proposals...

...As this column has repeatedly pointed out, porous borders are the result of uncontrolled immigration as much as its cause. You cannot control the borders, however many patrols you hire or fences you build, if you grant an effective pardon to anyone who gets 100 miles inland.

Besides, a guest-worker program that admits as many people as employers are willing to hire (at sweatshop wages Americans won't accept) makes extra border security pointless. If everyone can come in legally, there won't be any illegals crossing the desert or swimming the river.

Did the president deny that he and the Senate are proposing an amnesty because the 12 million illegals ''will have to go to the end of the line''?

The trick here is the identity of the line. You thought it meant the line to enter and live in the good old USA, didn't you? That's exactly what the president and his speechwriters wanted you to think. In fact, it means the line to become a citizen. Under the Senate-White House ''compromise,'' the illegals will immediately be granted the right to reside here permanently while legal applicants still wait outside.

It's the line to enter that really matters, however, since a U.S. permanent resident has all the rights and duties of a U.S. citizen except the right to vote and the duty to serve on a jury. Illegals will have to wait a dozen or so years inside America before they obtain those last two...

When the president stressed that the guest-worker program would be temporary, did he mention ''anchor babies''? No? Well, just guessing, but that omission may be because ''anchor babies,'' as the phrase implies, make ''temporary'' guest-workers permanent.

Here's how: Under the U.S. Constitution, if a temporary guest-worker or spouse gives birth during their stay, they become parents of a U.S. citizen and enjoy a right of residence and, in due course, citizenship. The baby anchors them in the United States and nullifies the president's pledge that temporary guest-workers will have to return when their job assignment ends...

Did the president quote many statistics about the number of people likely to be admitted under the ''compromise'' legislation? Or the likely cost of granting amnesty? No? Well, that's hardly surprising. When Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions produced a chart suggesting that something like 30 million people would be admitted under provisions of the compromise bill, his brave and effective speech halted it dead in its tracks in the Senate before Easter.

But the latest estimates suggest that Sessions was being overly cautious. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has just added up all the provisions of the bill -- for instance, it doubles the number of legal immigrants -- and discovered they would admit 103 million new people over the next 20 years. It's estimated that 19 million people would otherwise enter America over the same period...


The Congressman offers strong criticism of President Bush's immigration speech:

Complaining that President Bush "doesn't get it" on immigration, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner blasted the White House on Wednesday, saying that Bush has provoked a firestorm by endorsing amnesty for illegal immigrants.

"What he is proposing is amnesty," said the Menomonee Falls legislator, using a politically loaded label that Bush has repeatedly disputed...

Sensenbrenner said the White House has irritated him and others by seemingly "running away" from the immigration bill that the House passed in December. Sensenbrenner crafted that measure, whose get-tough provisions have sparked mass protests.

"He basically turned his back on provisions of the House bill, a lot of which we were requested to put in the bill by the White House," Sensenbrenner said.

One provision he cited makes it a criminal offense to be in the country illegally. That followed a request from the Justice Department.

The House bill makes unlawful presence a felony, though Sensenbrenner and House leaders have agreed to reduce it to a criminal misdemeanor. It is currently a civil violation.

"The president seems to be running away from that now," Sensenbrenner said of the stiffened penalties in the House legislation...

"The president has repeatedly and forcefully rejected amnesty," White House spokesman Alex Conant said.

"Under the president's plan, you have to pay stiff fines, follow the law, stay employed, learn English, and after achieving all those things, you still go to the back of the line. That's not amnesty."...

The Senate endorsed the citizenship provisions Wednesday by a roughly 2-to-1 vote.

"It's not amnesty," Arizona Republican John McCain said on the Senate floor. "Call it amnesty. Call it a banana if you want to. But the fact is it is earned citizenship. It is a perversion of the word amnesty."

Sensenbrenner was similarly adamant in his disdain for the term earned citizenship, and in his view, what Bush is discussing "is an amnesty because it allows people who have broken the law to stay in the country."

Under the Senate plan, many of those people will end up achieving legal status much sooner than they would have by waiting for legal permission to enter, Sensenbrenner said.

He called amnesty "the third rail of the immigration debate."...

Sensenbrenner said he thinks a compromise [between House and Senate bills] could include provisions for temporary workers, if "that does not include an amnesty," and only if it includes "vigorous" enforcement of sanctions against employers for hiring illegal immigrants...


Congressman Tancredo is an outspoken proponent of securing our borders and elaborated in this editorial on what he thought President Bush should say in his speech:

In this speech, the President needs to do three things to accomplish his goals. There is a road to consensus and success if the President will take it...

In his Monday speech, the President needs to make a clear break from previous speeches on the topic and come home to Republican Party principles. He needs to stop pandering to perceived voting blocs and employer lobbies and speak to the one thing all Americans agree upon: No immigration policy is workable without secure borders.

The President needs to speak to the nation as fellow citizens, not ethnic or economic groups, and tell them America will have secure borders that stop all illegal entry into our country. He needs to announce that he will federalize the National Guard in four border states to provide support to the beleaguered Border Patrol. He needs to say this will happen tomorrow morning, not next month or next year.

The second thing the President must do is explicitly separate the priority and necessity of secure borders from all other proposed federal legislation. Secure borders do not depend on a “comprehensive” immigration reform package that includes amnesty and a new temporary worker program. Secure borders are a prerequisite for any new immigration legislation, not a component to be bartered away for increased immigration numbers or new visa rules.

The third thing the President’s speech should do is to avoid any mention of amnesty for illegal aliens already in the country. No matter how cleverly he defines his “legalized status” proposal as not being amnesty, it is still amnesty and everyone knows it.

Americans are not in a mood to negotiate the matter of “regularization” for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens -- and Newt Gingrich has pointed out the amnesty would ultimately legalize up to 36 million -- until they see we have in fact achieved secure borders. Once that is done, once our laws are being enforced, then we can begin to discuss the problem of how to deal with the millions of illegal aliens already living here...

Part II to follow...