Are We Seeing A Turn-Around On Illegal Immigration By The Bush Administration?

As someone who has been a frequent critic of George Bush’s illegal immigration and border security policies, I thought it was worth giving him credit for at least starting to talk tough on illegal immigration:

“President Bush said yesterday that his goal is eventually to expel “every single” illegal alien from the United States as his administration pressed Congress to pass a guest-worker program.

…As Mr. Bush signed the homeland security spending bill yesterday, he said Congress should couple a guest-worker plan with increased border security.

“We’re going to get control of our borders,” he said during the signing ceremony in the East Room. “Our goal is clear — to return every single illegal entrant, with no exceptions.”

Not only does that sound good, it’s a 180 degree turn from the sort of thing Bush was saying back in December of 2004:

“We want our Border Patrol agents chasing, you know, crooks and thieves and drug-runners and terrorists, not good-hearted people who are coming here to work. And therefore, it makes sense to allow the good-hearted people who are coming here to do jobs that Americans won’t do a legal way to do so. And providing that legal avenue, it takes the pressure off the border.”

Unfortunately, while the rhetoric has improved, there doesn’t seem to be much substance behind it. Bush is still pushing his same old, unpopular, ineffective policies:

“Although conceding that the administration cannot immediately deport the estimated 11 million illegal aliens who are here, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao told Congress that a temporary-worker program would give aliens an incentive to come out of hiding and let them work legally for six years before being forced to return home.

As Mr. Bush signed the homeland security spending bill yesterday, he said Congress should couple a guest-worker plan with increased border security.”

You get what they’re trying to do here? Basically, they’ll get rid of all the illegal aliens by signing them up as guest workers. This is like proposing to put an end to “illegal robberies,” by making robbery legal. Meanwhile, Michael Chertoff who was also talking tough on immigration yesterday, along with Elaine Chao, were setting up straw men on illegal immigration and knocking them down:

“I think it would be hugely, hugely difficult to do this,” Mr. Chertoff said. “A lot of these people would not want to be deported. We would have to find them. That would be an enormous expenditure of effort and resources.”

Instead, they said aliens will identify themselves by taking part in the temporary-worker program and that the government then would know who they are and where to find them when their work period ends.

“We would ask them to sign up with a temporary-worker program for three years. They can extend for another three years for a total of six years and at which point we would ask that they return to their home country,” Mrs. Chao said. “They would not have a legal pathway to citizenship.”

First of all, you don’t have to chase down every single illegal alien. You simply crack down on the businesses that are giving them jobs. If illegals can’t get work in the United States, the ones that aren’t here already won’t bother to come, and those that are already here will self-deport. Just doing that would probably cut the number of illegals coming here by 90%, if only because most illegals would have no way to make a living here long-term.

Number two, if two illegal aliens have a child here in the United States, then the child becomes an American citizen, they can collect welfare, and the family has a hook they can use to keep themselves in the United States. “Oh, but how can you deport us? Our child is an American citizen!”

So, kudos to the Bush administration for trying to sound tough on illegals. But, in the end what matters isn’t saying the right things, it’s proposing the right actions and following through on them. That’s a road the Bush administration has yet to walk on illegal immigration.

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