Monday, May 15, 2006

Bush Wants Sweeps Time, Speaks on Illegal Immigration

George W. Bush has once again demonstrated that his true talent is neither governing nor understanding the complexity of crucial issues facing our country; his true mastery lies in manipulating the media and capturing the limelight.  

During a sweeps week replete with blockbuster television shows and high-priced advertising, Bush demanded and received a half-hour of high-priced time to pitch his plans for increasing border security. Unfortunately, the plan he put forth lacked specifics, and in the few places where specifics were included Bush seemed sadly out of touch with the real issues being faced today.  

Let me say, I liked some of the generalities I heard tonight from the president. I like the idea of a guest worker program, which would allow people in need of work to match up with potential employers to work in the country on a temporary basis, and return home to their families and communities. And the provisions to enable long-time residents of the United States to gain citizenship with some penalty of back taxes seem fair as well.

Unfortunately, specifics were lacking.  Members of the guest worker program are supposed to receive identification cards with thumb-print identification.  But who will foot the bill for this ID program? How long will the program last and how often will new ID cards need to be reproduced?

Regarding the citizenship program, how long must a person have lived in the US to be eligible for citizenship, and how much back taxes do you expect to receive from the poorest demographic in our society? What other criteria, such as family ties, will be considered in determining candidates? And what differs this from an amnesty program that we know will get shot down by house republicans?

I also believe in securing our borders, and I think it is essential to enhance local law enforcement, and support it with new technologies, to slow the stream of illegal immigrants and prevent terrorists from infiltrating our country.

But his mention of 6,000 National Guardsmen to assist border patrols seems unrealistic all the way around. 12,000 border patrol agents are presently ineffective in fighting illegal immigration, hardly slowing the tide of new immigrants, so bumping up to 18,000 patrollers does not strike me as assuring success.  

But even that number will be hard to muster, as we are entering a storm season that most people suspect will dwarf last year’s storm season. As we all know, we did not have enough National Guardsmen to handle the disasters this country faced in the past year, and spreading that force even thinner, while the number of guardsmen is already decreasing, seems to be a poor allocation of resources.

All in all, it seems like this “comprehensive bill” will cost a lot of money, yet no specifics of a price tag for this effort was mentioned. It was unclear whether the president was asking us to trust him on the specifics or if he just wasn’t aware of them himself.  But either way, without any meat to his argument, Bush’s speech came off as more of a publicity announcement to prove that he had a plan illegal immigration and increase his sagging 29% approval rating.

Where is the indictment of big business, and their culpability for promoting illegal immigration?  Without disincentives for hiring illegal workers, we will always see a demand for this form of cheap labor, and a steady stream of immigrants crossing the border. Any plan for fighting immigration that does not include sanctions for companies who purchase illegal immigrants will not be effective.

And where is the call for improved relations with Mexico to help combat toe problem on that side of the fence. Almost every military expert says that any plans for securing our borders that does not include coordinated efforts with the Mexican police will be ineffectual, but Bush made no references whatsoever to coordination with Mexico.

I may not agree with Bush on many things, but in general I’m happy to hear any plans he would like to share with the country, especially those pertaining to our security.  But in the absence of any substance, this appears to have been more of a publicity stunt than a real response to the growing issue of illegal immigration in this country.

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Posted by Scottage at 10:28 PM / | |