President Bush went before the nation to make his case for Immigration Reform.
He made several points:
1. The United States must secure its borders. This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation. It is also an urgent requirement of our national security. Our objective is straightforward: The border should be open to trade and lawful immigration, and shut to illegal immigrants, as well as criminals, drug dealers, and terrorists....
We do not yet have full control of the border, and I am determined to change that. Tonight I'm calling on Congress to provide funding for dramatic improvements in manpower and technology at the border. By the end of 2008, we'll increase the number of Border Patrol officers by an additional 6,000. When these new agents are deployed, we'll have more than doubled the size of the Border Patrol during my presidency.
At the same time, we're launching the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history. We will construct high-tech fences in urban corridors, and build new patrol roads and barriers in rural areas. We'll employ motion sensors, infrared cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles to prevent illegal crossings. America has the best technology in the world, and we will ensure that the Border Patrol has the technology they need to do their job and secure our border.
Ok, you have my attention now, but why not 12,000?
The Tech Innitiative is going to cost money, and some nimrods in Congress, and among Immigrant Rights Groups are going to balk.
2. One way to help during this transition is to use the National Guard. So, in coordination with governors, up to 6,000 Guard members will be deployed to our southern border. The Border Patrol will remain in the lead. The Guard will assist the Border Patrol by operating surveillance systems, analyzing intelligence, installing fences and vehicle barriers, building patrol roads, and providing training. Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities -- that duty will be done by the Border Patrol.
Great, that's fine and dandy, and long overdue but, again, why not 12,000?
The United States is not going to militarize the southern border. Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend. We will continue to work cooperatively to improve security on both sides of the border, to confront common problems like drug trafficking and crime, and to reduce illegal immigration.
Mexico is indeed out neighbor, but just how much of a friend it is is up for debate.
If Mexico had done what it needed to over the last few decades to improve its country, and the lives of its people, the problems with illegal immigration, crime, and drug trafficking, on both sdes of the border, would not be what they are today.
Mexico can, and MUST, do more to "cooperate" in confronting these issues.
3. Another way to help during this period of transition is through state and local law enforcement in our border communities. So we'll increase federal funding for state and local authorities assisting the Border Patrol on targeted enforcement missions. We will give state and local authorities the specialized training they need to help federal officers apprehend and detain illegal immigrants.
Long overdue, and welcome, but just how much of an increase are we talking about?
If it's just a token amount, that won't do much, then why even bother?
His plan for ending "Catch and Release" is also a fine idea, if it works.
4. To secure our border, we must create a temporary worker program....
I support a temporary worker program that would create a legal path for foreign workers to enter our country in an orderly way, for a limited period of time. This program would match willing foreign workers with willing American employers for jobs Americans are not doing. Every worker who applies for the program would be required to pass criminal background checks. And temporary workers must return to their home country at the conclusion of their stay.
Okay, fine, but will we be able to enforce the return aspect of this plan?
5. We need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire. It is against the law to hire someone who is in this country illegally. Yet businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees because of the widespread problem of document fraud. Therefore, comprehensive immigration reform must include a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility. A key part of that system should be a new identification card for every legal foreign worker. This card should use biometric technology, such as digital fingerprints, to make it tamper-proof. A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law, and leave employers with no excuse for violating it. And by making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work in our country, we would discourage people from crossing the border illegally in the first place.
I like this idea.
6. We must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are here already. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully, and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration.
Hallelujiah! But, Mr. Prez, do ya really, really, mean that?
There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation. That middle ground recognizes there are differences between an illegal immigrant who crossed the border recently, and someone who has worked here for many years, and has a home, a family, and an otherwise clean record.
Good points. We absolutely can't deport everybody. Even sending back a third of the 12 milion, might be unworkable.
I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, to pay their taxes, to learn English, and to work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship, but approval would not be automatic, and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law. What I've just described is not amnesty, it is a way for those who have broken the law to pay their debt to society, and demonstrate the character that makes a good citizen.
This plan has potential, but getting the Illegals to come out of hiding to cooperate might be a problem.
7. We must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot, which has made us one nation out of many peoples. The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society, and embrace our common identity as Americans. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly, and an ability to speak and write the English language. English is also the key to unlocking the opportunity of America. English allows newcomers to go from picking crops to opening a grocery, from cleaning offices to running offices, from a life of low-paying jobs to a diploma, a career, and a home of their own. When immigrants assimilate and advance in our society, they realize their dreams, they renew our spirit, and they add to the unity of America.
My own Father came to this country in 1951, and though the 1st language he learned was Spanish, it opened the door to gaining a better life in America for him.
1st working in the kitchen of a local hotel, then getting the job that was his livelyhood for 15 years, a groundskeeper at a local college.
He was able to learn English, with the help of the woman he married, and this opened more doors to his assimilation into this country.
Alas, in the end, he was one of those people who had stresses in his life, past, and present, that led to mental illness in 1969, but even after that, in his lucid times, he was always grateful for what America gave him: Freedom, and the chance to earn a living, and raise a family that he was proud of.
Interview with Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, Julie Myers.
Interview with Senate Majority leader Bill Frist.
Interview with columnist Mark Steyn.
Roundtable with Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, columnist Mickey Kaus, and N. Z. Bear of The Truth Laid Bear.
A Tip of the Hat to Instapundit for the heads-up on these.
I find a lot to think about in the Presidents propsals, but, like many in the Blogosphere ( All who liveblogged the speech ), want to learn more because there are still many questions to answer about the workability of these plans. ( Clicking on the related topics at the top of this Truth Laid Bear page will lead to more interesting commentary. )
***UPDATE - 5/21***
I received a comment today from one of the few ( Make that very, very few ) Blogs where you will find me and Daily Kos sharing space on the same Blogroll. ( Don't tell Kos, though! I don't think his heart could take the shock! ) ;-D
The writer mentions an LA Times article in todays paper that is must reading.
Although I didn't hear the speech, you gave a good summary of it, and there were a lot of good points made. However, as you pointed out, there's a difference between giving a speech and implementing the measures discussed in it. In other words, is it just windowdressing as in so many of the President's past speeches or are they going to get serious? And are they going to put budget behind it, or is this one of those "no impact on the budget" plans? If the National Guard is going to do nothing more than paperwork, I'm afraid the plan will have little effect.
In an article in the LA Times today, "A 'Black Hole' on a Porous Border," the guys on the other side are serious, and it's going to take some serious effort on our side to deal with them - not the National Guard doing paperwork.
The article makes for fascinating reading, and J.C. is right: Our Government MUST show us that they are implimenting a plan with sufficient teeth, budget, and manpower to work.