Border Lipstick on Amnesty Pig

The bottom line on President Bush’s televised address on immigration Monday evening is this: For all of its five parts for achieving "comprehensive immigration reform," there wasn’t enough lipstick — nor mascara, rouge, blush or other cosmetics — to disguise that Mr. Bush was selling an amnesty pig.

Most offensive was his implication that Americans aren’t enough of a welcoming people if they reject the Bush-McCain-Hagel mass amnesty. The United States has the most generous — overly generous, in fact — immigration policy in the world. Mr. Bush stooped to the low tactic of implying our great generosity isn’t generous enough.

On the border security part of the speech, Mr. Bush might have been more believable had the press not been filled beforehand with his assurances to Mexican Presidente Fox. Mr. Bush essentially told his buddy Vicente that the National Guard deployment was sufficiently weak and encumbered that illegal aliens and smugglers will hardly notice.

If Mr. Bush were sending 60,000 or 600,000 instead of 6,000 troops and it was the Army and Marines with "shoot-to-kill" orders, tanks and helicopters instead of the National Guard for a purely "support" role, he might gain some credibility.

If Mr. Bush, instead of coddling Mexico, gave Mr. Fox a bold warning to stop Mexican soldiers, gangsters and police from shooting at our Border Patrol and crossing into our country "or else," that would be the right message.

It’s hard to take seriously an administration that has consistently undermined real immigration enforcement:

  • The Bush administration shut down the very effective NSEERS alien registration program, which deported 1,500 illegal Pakistani residents but sparked the self-deportation of 15,000.
  • It chopped off interior Border Patrol sting operations where a handful of officers caught some 400 illegal aliens in short order.
  • It put the highly effective Native American "Shadow Wolves" out of business.
  • It virtually stopped employer sanctions enforcement — citing just three companies in 2004 for hiring illegal aliens.
  • It radically pared back the sending of “no-match” letters to employers when an employee Social Security number and name don’t match (mostly indicating Social Security number fraud by illegal aliens).
  • Administration lobbyists have routinely opposed the local law enforcement-empowering CLEAR Act and Homeland Security Enhancement Act behind closed Capitol Hill doors, and continued the sorry practice of refusing to cooperate with state and local police who capture illegal aliens during routine policework.

The President now endorses rewarding illegal immigrants with a path to U.S. citizenship. This is the ultimate reward for lawbreaking. Whether they’re legalized in one fell swoop or amnestied on the installment plan, the Bush-Senate approach is still plain old letting the lawbreakers keep their ill-gotten gains and heaping more benefits upon them — precisely on account of their lawbreaking.

President Bush proposes not a "rational middle ground" but surrender.

He should learn from the 1986 IRCA amnesty. That legislation granted amnesty to practically all illegal aliens with the same basic "keep your nose clean, study English" kinds of conditions. It also had border and employer sanctions measures — mostly based on empty promises and half-measures that "balanced" interests and tied the hands of meaningful enforcement.

As we all should know by now, only the amnesty part "worked." It legalized 3 million lawbreakers, inspired massive fraud and abuse, sparked massive illegal immigration waves that have now at least quadrupled the illegal population, swelled chain migration and harmed the welfare of American citizens.

The President and the Senate are again taking the same failed approach. The results should now be easily predictable and as harmful.

As the Heritage Foundation’s welfare expert Robert Rector estimates, the Senate’s "compromise" amnesty bill will increase legal immigration by 103 million over the next two decades. It will cost taxpayers at least $46 billion a year. Hagel-Martinez’s S. 2611 is so bad that Rector calls it "the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years."

By contrast, the House bill, H.R. 3466, tries something different. It takes a strategy of attrition, causing illegal aliens to self-deport and diminishing the influx of illegal immigrants. That is, the House acts sanely and rationally.

The political dynamics of this situation resemble those of when the President’s father broke his "no new taxes" pledge. He tried to get Republican lawmakers to go along with him — many of whom had made the same campaign pledge.

The White House twisted arms and browbeat legislators in the name of party loyalty. Those who stood up to the elder Mr. Bush won re-election while many of the compromisers lost their races.

The wise in Congress will tell Mr. Bush, "Read my lips, no amnesty-guestworker."