“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation” -James Madison

Monday, May 15, 2006

Grading the Immigration speech

It appears that many conservatives were just itching for GWB to give this speech so they could immediately start screaming "It's not enough!!!!"

Well, it's not enough. And it never was going to be.

But it IS a start, and the President showed with this speech that he has heard. He also showed that politics, especially on the national stage, is the art of not getting everything you want. Usually this is played in such a way that the other guy doesn't get what he wants either. It loosely applies here, but not as much as it would on, say, a budget bill.

Some quotes and commentary:
First, the United States must secure its borders. This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign Nation.
Bingo. Maybe it's just rhetoric, but it *IS* something that has not been stated forcefully enough by our leaders, especially our National Security President. A-minus

Some statements follow concerning funding additional Border Patrol agents, working out to doubling the total since he assumed office. Not bad -- I would like more, but this is a definite shot across Congress' bow. He is essentially saying, "Look, the unwashed masses want this, and I'm throwing them a bone -- do yourselves a favor and up the ante a little, okay?" B-plus

He then addresses one of the strengths of the US -- our technology. And he mentions The Fence! Again -- not enough out of the gate, but FAR more than we have heard. And it is another shot across Congress' bow. B-plus

Now we get the problematical part of the solution -- The National Guard. To begin with, most people don't understand the federal/state issues with military enforcement of civilian law.....mainly: THEY'RE NOT ALLOWED to do that job. People who are demanding we put active duty or national guard troops on the border don't realize that it is illegal to do so, unless the martial law has been declared and I missed it. Secondarily, the amount of Guard assigned is looked at as too low by those same people demanding troops on the border. So it is doubly misleading in that regard -- he needs to explain this better. The National Guard assignments are a HUGE improvement and will allow the Border Patrol to do border patrolling while the National Guard does what it does best -- handle logistics and Set Stuff Up. Finally, I am of the belief that we are stretching our National Guard too thin. Between the service in Iraq/Afghanistan and keeping various states reasonably safe and civil going into hurricane season, there just aren't a lot of Guard units available. I think in the short term it's a great idea, but they have to do their job and get out, which is going to drive the demanders CRAZY. B-minus to C-plus; I'm torn because the idea is fundamentally good but the reason and explanation are going to be unclear to most people.

Now for one of my pet causes:
...we will increase federal funding for state and local authorities assisting the Border Patrol on targeted enforcement missions. And we will give state and local authorities the specialized training they need to help federal officers apprehend and detain illegal immigrants.
Yep. THIS is a huge step in keeping the state/federal balance intact. Instead of bringing in troops from around the country to not-really defend the borders, it makes far more sense to throw some money at the people on the front line so THEY can hire and build the resources that will help them the most. Creative types, like the Mariposa County sheriff in Arizona, will be able to make miracles happen with respect to their hardest job. Again, this is sending a signal to Congress that it only takes some political courage and releasing a few bucks to make people happy and get some work done. I give this an A.

Another pet cause:
This practice, called “catch and release,” is unacceptable – and we will end it.
Like the phony drug war, the phony "immigration enforcement agency" practices have got to be addressed, and this is a great start. The raid at the pallet company last month that netted nearly 1,600 illegals resulted in less than 250 being deported. With assurances that caught illegals WILL be sent away immediately, the citizens of this country will feel better about giving resources to the government to use in this manner. A-plus!

Temporary worker program. Let's face it -- ya GOTTA throw a bone out there and give them a chance. Although I am of the camp that says it is possible to round up most of the illegals, I admit that in the meantime there should be a way for the hard workers, who want to be citizens, can get some breathing room while they work the red tape. Also, there is no way to get the liberals on both sides of the aisle to do the other things without this step. I don't particularly like it, but he addressed it well. B-plus

Probably my biggest cause in this fight:
...we need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire.
This, more than any other step, will be the balance point in this mess. If the jobs dry up, the illegals stop jumping the border. The problem is that in order to make this happen, we have to set up yet ANOTHER massive bureaucracy. Hello, Homeland Security II. But it is incredibly important to have this step. Another shot across Congress' bow. A-minus

Adressing the Amnesty bit....he weaseled a little bit, but he did acknowledge that true amnesty is not an option, and neither is rounding 'em up....the middle ground is still amnesty to a degree. Sadly, he neglected to give details like how much penalty they pay, how to figure back taxes on someone who works for cash, and the mechanism for enforcing the English-learning requirement. This was particularly squishy and was the weakest part of the speech. I'll give it a D, and only because he acknowledged the middle path being better than outright amnesty.

Okay, so everyone "ought" to speak English. How about proposing some English-only legislation? Again, this was wormy and lacked the teeth of the earlier part of the speech. C-minus.

People are human beings and there are real consequences. Don't fight too hard and hurt each other. Grandma and Grandpa were immigrants, too. Like this war hero in the hospital (ech -- it's starting to look opportunistic to your supporters, George.....).

Overall, I think it was a good speech and went a LONG way toward addressing the problem. He laid a lot of things directly at Congress' feet and still showed the liberals that he wants to see some of their needs met as well. Some squishiness appeared at the end, but I'll give it a B overall.

Now....House Republicans:

UP THE ANTE. Take this ball and run -- pass the bill for MORE fence and money than the president requested. Force the Senate to say yea or nay on it, but make it a bold statement. The president came out and was as bold as he really can be. You don't have that problem.....the conservatives want more, and the liberals will hate anything you do anyway.

Senate: Get off your self-satisfied rear ends and wake up to what the average people are demanding. You have lost touch and are too in love with your own power, prestige, and political aspirations. You need to work with the House and put some teeth in this thing. The president WANTS to address the border and immigration (finally), so use this opportunity and your majority (while you still have one) and pass a good bill with some real enforcement.


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