Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bush Targets Illegal Immigration

In a speech to the nation yesterday, President Bush attempted to appeal to both sides of his conservative base while clarifying his position on illegal immigration. The speech in Arizona at an Air Force base about an hour north of the Mexican Border was primarily aimed at curbing illegal immigration from Mexico, which the President said accounts for some 80% of the illegals entering the US. (Washington Post: Bush Pushes Guest-Worker Program).

While the President opened with tough rhetoric, stating that America's laws on illegal immigration will be enforced, he gradually wound down towards a very moderate viewpoint by endorsing a guest worker program. On the one hand, he threatened to veto any bill that includes amnesty, yet he still advocates a guest worker program that would allow as many as 11 million illegal immigrants to remain in the US for as many as 6-years. In that period, they could apply for legal status, something that would be made far easier since the President wants to increase the number of work visas available to foreign applicants.

One of the dangers in attempting to appeal to both sides in a debate is that you end up alienating both sides. Moderates within the party are very supportive of an amnesty program, claiming it's virtually impossible to catch all of the illegals that are here already. They will most certainly be turned off by his threat to veto. It is also not likely that moderates or liberals will support the increased spending along the Mexican border and the significant increase in border patrol personnel supported by the President.

On the other hand, conservatives want no part of the guest worker program since that is tantamount to amnesty. There are 11 million foreign criminals now residing in the US and the guest worker program actually rewards them for violating US immigration laws. That is simply not going to pass muster with the President's conservative base.

What seems to be missing in all this talk on immigration is any focus on US companies that are violating US law by hiring these illegals in the first place. Were it not for the prospect of jobs here, there would be no incentive for people to cross the border illegally. Yet there does not appear to be any attempt to crack down on companies that hire them.

Of equal concern is the President's desire to increase the number of work visas available to foreign applicants. We are already over saturated with foreign workers to the detriment of the American work force, especially in high end technology jobs. Of every ten resumes that cross my desk, only two of them are from American citizens. The remainder of the applicants are typically from India, and virtually all of them require H1b sponsorship. Our current immigration policies are squeezing the American worker considerably. What we desperately need is a reduction in the number of Visas available, not an increase. We also need a crack down on companies and individuals that hire illegal immigrants.

Fortunately, the tide in the Supreme Court may shift with regards to the status of illegal immigrants once Samuel Alito is confirmed for the high court. Alito takes a very rigid stance against any rights afforded to illegal immigrants, according to briefs he filed while working for the Reagan Administration. (Washington Post: '86 Alito Memo Argues Against Foreigners' Rights). In Alito's view, people that enter the US illegally are not entitled to any constitutional rights afforded to American citizens.

Alito's view will be a welcome change to a court that has been extremely liberal in dealing with immigration issues. Perhaps with the court's shift to the right, the government will no longer be hamstrung in devising new methods for securing our borders. Perhaps we will no longer be an enticing target for illegal immigrants because of our liberal public service policies regarding medical care and welfare for those that are not here legally. Perhaps we will rescind the most absurd law currently on our books that automatically grants a child US citizenship if born here even though the child's mother is here illegally.

In any event, the President's speech will be met with skepticism across all factions. It was not tough enough for some, and it was certainly too tough for others. The proposals made by the President will have a difficult time indeed in both the House and the Senate. In the meantime, illegals continue to stream across our open borders.


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