The Bush Amnesty Plan: A Tragedy in Three Acts

Many individual events have occurred during the Bush Administration’s tenure. However, there is one theme that consistently flows through the administration’s domestic security initiatives. It is an undisguised, almost obsessive effort to eliminate our southern border.

Complementing this endeavor is the one and only goal of Mexico’s Fox administration-to drive as many Mexicans into the United States as possible. Bush’s new “temporary worker” plan, in rapacious pursuit of cheap labor and votes, prefigures national self-destruction, while Fox seeks to maintain the corrupt and oppressive oligarchy that misgoverns Mexico.

Theirs is a tragedy (for us) in three acts.

Act I — Tom (Surrender Now) Ridge
“Keep your eyes open”-until they pop out of your head. “Keep your guard up”-National Guard and Right Guard. Is it Code Red, Code Orange, or Code Black and Blue today? When did you stop loading your shoes with dynamite, grandmom? “It isn’t a question of if, but when.” Oh! And “go about your business as usual”-like a quivering bowl of Jello.

Despite his endless appeals to fear and resignation, America’s first Homeland Secretary, Tom Ridge, felt comfortable enough to assert on Dec. 10, 2003, that “[W]e have to come to grips with the presence of 8-12 million illegals [and] afford them some kind of legal status. . . .” Mr. Ridge would not have made such a statement without a demand from the President. An appropriate reply would have been: “Mr. President, my resignation will be on your desk at noon.”

The absurdity of Ridge’s gripping remark can be measured by that “8-12 million” figure. Can a policy so fraught with consequences be based on such fragile data? And what, Mr. Homeland Secretary, could be more useful to our local Al Qaeda terrorist cells and suicide bombers than some kind of legal status leading to a green card?

Act II — Doin’ The Bush Blanket Two-Step
In a press conference five days later, a reporter alluded to Ridge’s comment and asked the President to “clarify your policy [on illegal immigration], what it is, short of blanket amnesty?” In what appeared to be a prepared answer, the President replied broadly: “I have constantly said that we need to have an immigration policy that helps match any willing employer with any willing employee. (Emphasis added.) And, he concluded: “Let me also clarify something. This administration is firmly against blanket amnesty.”

Firmly against? The “temporary” worker program announced by the President on January 7, makes a blanket amnesty look like a preferred option. Briefly, Bush’s plan would allow illegal workers presently in the U.S. to register for a three-year temporary worker status, renewable for an additional three years. It would provide workers living in other countries with temporary worker status to fill jobs no American will take. It would allow temporary workers to travel home and return. It would allow relatives of temporary workers to visit them here. During the period of their temporary status, workers would be tied (indentured) to one employer.

One has to ask: Where is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) going to find the experienced personnel (and stomach) to register illegal alien workers, handle job applications from home and abroad, and enforce the return home of relatives and those “guest workers” whose six years are up? The Department has almost given up on internal enforcement. It can’t even guard our borders. Any standards such as date of entry, proof of employment, or absence of running sores will be overwhelmed by fraud, charges of racial profiling, and the sheer number of applicants.

Anyone who thinks this will not lead to massive new demands for low-skill workers and green cards, or believes “they won’t stay” but [with incentives] will “return permanently to their home countries” deserves the Dunce-of-the-Century award. “Those who make the choice [to stay],” said the President, “will be allowed to apply in the normal way.” (What will “normal” look like by then?)

Moreover, as the Bush plan goes forward on one track, a second track will begin handling the millions of wives and children and brothers and sisters who will be applying for admission based upon their relationships with the newly-legalized. Anchor babies will establish still more millions of relatives, as will fraudulent documents, easily obtained in the Third World.

Even so, illegal immigration will travel on a third track, newly stimulated by the belief that any country that can legalize 8 to 12 or 20 million lawbreakers will do so again, and again. A demoralized Border Patrol will be powerless to stop them. American schools, medical facilities, budgets, and communities will be ravaged, and our working and middle classes will be impoverished, but America will still look like heaven-on-earth to Third Worlders. Any effort to limit illegal entries will unravel like the sides of the Twin Towers.

The president has an MBA from Harvard, but even an Econ 101 student knows something about labor markets: More workers means lower wages; lower wages means more jobs; more jobs means more workers; etc. etc. in a “race to the bottom.” This makes sense to employers and their bottom lines. It also makes the temporary worker the preferred worker. He’s in bondage, dependent on the employer for both his right to be here and his hopes for a green card. Legitimate employers, relieved of the taint of illegality, will be under pressure from competition to squeeze out their American workers.

Bush’s proposal would return us to the era of unlimited immigration. Except that in the earlier era, 1890-1920, the Earth’s population was one-fourth what it is today; most of its really poor people were locked down in colonies or specifically denied the right to migrate here; America had no welfare programs to attract layabouts, and manufacturing employment was expanding.

Act III — The Grand Vizeer
Which brings us to the third actor in this passion play, Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada. Columnist Georgie Anne Geyer remembers the press’s first encounter with Mexico’s “charismatic” new leader. This, after all, was the man who had broken the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s 70-year grip on power in Mexico. She and other journalists were disappointed. Fox had little to say and seemed less than dynamic.

It has taken us a while to figure out that Fox has only one goal-to maintain Mexico’s old systems of corruption and oppression by pushing its problems off onto the United States and enfeebling our sovereignty. One thing is new, however. This invasion is now the very soul of Mexican policy and Fox pursues it with a determination that borders on desperation.

The Fox arrived in Washington in early September 2001 like a conquering hero. He addressed a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill. With unprecedented gall, Se??±or Fox directed his demands to the supplicants in English, and repeated them in Spanish for what he likes to call his “co-nationals.” There must be more green cards for Mexicans! We demand guest worker programs for our farm workers! We require legal status for all illegal Mexicans!

The events of 9/11 forced an agonizing reappraisal and a change in tactics. An array of agencies, a Cabinet Adviser for Migrant Affairs and a Council for Mexicans Abroad, for example, were developed to stimulate the dual nationalities and loyalties of some Mexicans whom America has empowered by naturalization. Light towers were constructed on the border to orient illegal entrants, and food, water, and maps were supplied to them to maintain them in their crossing. Matricula Consular ID cards were huckstered nationwide to convenience the illegals. State governments were exhorted to provide illegals with driver’s licenses, in-state tuition and services.

President Bush has supported Fox’s initiatives wherever possible. He has exerted himself to open our border to Mexican trucking, though he knows we can inspect only a few of them for contraband drugs, weapons, and workers. He has allowed banks to accept the Matricula Consular for identification. He has tantalized the illegals with efforts to extend social security to them and raised their expectations with demands for amnesties and guest worker programs. By now the illegals, and those who employ them and service them, form a powerful economic interest.

Why No Mexican Dream?

The Carnegie Endowment for Peace’ tenth anniversary evaluation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, “NAFTA’s Promise and Reality,” estimates Mexico’s annual growth rate at a meager 2.3 %, found job growth “disappointing,” and lamented that since NAFTA “real wages for most Mexicans are lower [and] income inequality has been on the rise.”

Moreover, the World Bank’s tenth-year analysis, “Lessons from NAFTA,” states “[T]he gap in the quality of the institutional framework is the biggest single factor behind the income gap between Mexico and the U.S.” By all measured factors: political stability, governmental effec-tiveness, regulatory quality, accountability, control of corruption, and the rule of law, the World Bank found Mexico a sorry mess when compared with the United States and Canada.

Mexico is a country rich in resources and people. Had Vicente Fox quietly urged George Bush to shut down the border, he might have begun the overthrow of the corrupt oligarchy that has misruled Mexico since its founding. Why isn’t there a Mexican Dream? By promoting the American Dream for Mexicans, Fox and Bush extinguish the Mexican Dream.


Cheap Pander. If both American political parties now believe that to get immigrant votes they must reward the immigrant’s illegal countrymen and women for breaking our laws, they will act still more cravenly when these imported Americans become voters.

It must be on the mind of those who employ illegal aliens that Bush’s plan would make future control of immigration politically impossible and guarantee an unlimited supply of cheap labor. We will become a “nation of immigrants” in fact, not just in fantasy.

“Coming to grips with the presence of 8-12 million illegal aliens” means two things: Never granting legal status to any illegal aliens and making a determined effort to return illegal aliens to their countries of origin. It’s called discouraging illegal immigration. It’s called deportation! It’s nothing new! There is no other solution compatible with our continuation as a nation.

Bush’s temporary worker/green card/citizen program would reward illegal aliens for breaking our laws and reward the crooked employers who hire them. This would deal a death blow to our precious rule of law.

Mexico covets America’s Southwest, our Southwest-the Indian lands Spain claimed but never conquered or developed. Mexico has invaded our country on the pretext of supplying us with “needed workers.” We have not yet begun to fight, but the outcome of this struggle is far more important to America’s future than what happens in Afghanistan or Iraq.