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Rally ‘Round the (Mexican) Flag

Time to take back the red, white and blue

Recent and upcoming pro-amnesty rallies, where thousands of illegal immigrants and other foreigners make outrageous demands on the United States, prove several things.

One, there’s no basis for the claim that only amnesty would bring the 10-12 million illegal aliens “out of the shadows.” Illegal aliens aren’t cowering in fear of being caught and deported. Hundreds of thousands of them brazenly march in American streets, identify themselves to news reporters as illegals and enter congressional office buildings to pressure U.S. politicians for amnesty.

Two, the demonstrations, such as in Los Angeles, Washington and New York, prove that the Bush administration won’t lift a finger to enforce the laws on the books. Every member of Congress has anecdotes from his district where local police called Homeland Security after taking illegal aliens into custody, only to be told to free the lawbreakers because the feds refuse to cooperate.

But Homeland Security won’t even enforce immigration laws when illegal aliens show up en masse for political theatrics. One good, prominent enforcement action at one of these events would send a signal well understood in any language: The laws are on the books for good reasons, and we intend to enforce them.

Three, the differences in Congress over how to deal with this issue reflect the two bodies and how each works. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives heard constituents loud and clear. H.R. 4437, which enjoyed strong bipartisan support, takes an “enforcement-first” approach.

The Senate Republican factions lack consensus on immigration issues. Senators tend to be much more out of touch with the people they represent. They tend to hear mostly from bigwigs, while lowly staffers answer the mail from average constituents.

Thus, just before Easter recess the Senate couldn’t agree on a legislative approach. The Senate Judiciary Committee bill is a poison concoction of mass amnesty plus promiscuous guestworker plus illegal farmworker amnesty plus more than doubling of already-too-high legal immigration levels plus in-state tuition for illegal aliens.

The Hagel-Martinez “compromise” that Majority Leader Bill Frist inexplicably embraced is a blanket amnesty bill. It legalizes nearly all the illegal alien population, treating classes of illegal aliens according to how long they claim to have been here. Length of unlawful presence determines how many modest hoops someone has to jump through. It also more than doubles legal immigration levels.

The Frist bill, while omitting amnesty-guestworker schemes, doubles legal immigration. And like the other Senate legislation, Frist’s S. 2454 has mediocre enforcement measures that don’t measure up to the House-passed bill or even the Cornyn-Kyl (S. 1438) enforcement provisions.

Before recess, the Senate couldn’t rally 60 votes to debate any of these bills. That’s good, because any of them would do more harm than good.

Four, the coordinated amnesty rallies unveil the leftist ties and tactics of these groups. As the Washington Times has reported, organizers such as ANSWER and key instigators have Marxist roots. They’ve developed fellow travelers among Big Business, Big Religion and Big Labor.

Agitators picked the Communist May Day for another round of demonstrations. Recent “day without an immigrant” and May 1 “boycott” protests employ the favorite Communist “general strike” tactic. Demonstrators and organizers alike freely invoke ugly name-calling — “racist,” “xenophobe,” “bigot” — to stifle honest debate and intimidate decent people into silence.

Five, conditions are right for bold American leadership. President Bush could rally the “silent majority” of Americans who favor faithful enforcement of immigration laws and immigration cuts. This could help him rebound from all-time low approval ratings and salvage GOP control of the House and Senate in the traditionally brutal second-term midterm elections.

For six years, President Bush has reflexively mythologized immigration, confused capitulation for compassion, browbeaten and derided patriotic Americans as “vigilantes” and half-wits. He has continually pushed for open-ended “guestworker”/amnesty schemes and, with rare, post-9/11 exception, systematically undermined every effort at meaningful immigration enforcement.

In short, he has sold out the American people at every turn on immigration issues.

The fact the Republican-led House has displayed bold statesmanship on this issue should help insulate incumbents in upcoming elections. The House passed the kind of immigration bill the American people (as opposed to foreign interlocutors and elitists) really want.

The Senate’s schizophrenia and delusional views on immigration explain the poor ratings Congress gets on this issue. They also expose Senators to greater vulnerability come Election Day.

All in all, the demonstrations present America with a choice. We’ll look like spineless college administrators or Gov. Ronald Reagan in their response to 1960s campus unrest. Either we’ll wave a white flag, grant amnesty and open the borders or we’ll take back the red, white and blue, resolve to fight for our country and begin enforcing immigration laws today.

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James Edwards is coauthor of "The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform."

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