No Amnesty, No Deal, Mr. President

When the 17th Street levee broke and the floodwaters of Lake Pontchartrain inundated New Orleans, the immediate imperative was: Fix the levee. Before the cleanup could begin, before the refugees could return, the levee had to be repaired so water stopped flooding into the city. Everybody understood this.

Why, then, has it taken five years for the White House to wake up to the first imperative in the immigration crisis: Fix the border, stop the flood? Why is President Bush still chattering on about a "guest worker" program that has nothing to do with the crisis?

Since he took office in 2001, Bush said in Tucson, Ariz., U.S. border agents have apprehended and sent home 4.5 million illegal aliens, "including more than 350,000 with criminal records."

Astonishing. That is 75,000 criminals a year, 200 felons a day, for the last five years, trying to break into our country to rape, rob and kill, and molest our children. Of the millions of illegals who succeeded in breaking in on Bush’s watch, how many came to rape, rob and murder, like John Lee Malvo, the Beltway sniper?

This is a national crisis, an existential crisis. But after five years of ignoring it, and now finally addressing it, what did Bush say in Tucson? I can’t defend the border if you won’t give me a guest worker program. Said Bush, "(W)e will not be able to effectively enforce our immigration laws until we create a temporary worker program."

But this is preposterous. Bush is saying he cannot do his constitutional duty to protect the nation from invasion — unless we let 12 million illegal aliens become guest workers and allow greedy U.S. businesses to go overseas and hire foreigners for jobs that U.S. workers won’t take at the paltry wages they offer.

But not since the "bracero" program of decades ago have we had a national guest worker program. And never in our history have we given business carte blanche to go abroad and hire foreigners to come and take American jobs. Yet Bush says if we don’t, he can’t control the border. What he means is, he won’t control the border.

The president’s speech in Tucson was a kind of extortion of those who have fought for tough border protections. Bush is saying: Unless you give me what I want, a guest worker program, you’re not getting what you want. But what a majority of Americans want is what they have a right to demand: That Bush do his sworn duty and enforce the immigration laws of the United States.

Conservatives should reject this "guest worker" program, even if it is Bush’s price tag for border protection. Far from solving the crisis, this Chamber of Commerce-LULAC scheme will mean final defeat, after decades of struggle to protect the borders. For though Bush may say, "I oppose amnesty," his guest worker program (SET ITAL) is (END ITAL) amnesty.

Amnesty means no punishment and a reward for law-breaking. And that is exactly what Bush is proposing. In his guest worker program, those who broke our laws and broke into our country get to stay and work for six years, then go home on sabbatical, then return to work permanently. What is that, if not rewarding law-breaking?

Twenty years ago, Ronald Reagan was persuaded to grant a one-time amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who had been here for years. Result: Some 1.5 million illegal aliens were caught almost every year after. They had missed out on the amnesty, and they, too, wanted in. When Bush first broached his "guest worker" program two years ago, there was a surge to the border from Mexico.

A recent Pew Hispanic Poll found 46 percent of all Mexicans say they would like to live in the United States and 20 percent, more than 20 million, are willing to break in. If Congress votes for Bush’s guest worker program, nothing will stop the flood — for the world will see it as admission that America is a weak nation that will not even order out of its home those who have broken in uninvited, sat down at the table and demanded to be treated like a member of the family.

As Reagan said, the country that can’t control its borders isn’t really a country anymore.

The battle to regain control of the borders is a cause that has won the support of a No-Longer-Silent Majority. The open-borders, Business Roundtable Republicans know it. On the run, they want to compromise. They will accept some border security, they say, if they can get in return an amnesty for their illegal workers and the legislated right of U.S. businesses to go overseas and hire foreigners to take American jobs.

Conservatives need to tell the White House: No deal, no amnesty, do your duty, defend the border, or we will find men and women to replace you who will enforce our laws and protect our country.