This sudden xenophobia that has gripped the right wing of the Republican party reminds of the America Firsters whose isolationism helped leave America unprepared for WW2. It is denial, and I do not mean a river in Egypt.
There are millions of immigrants in this country today. This is a fact. It is also a fact that we have an unemployment rate of about 4.8% and by some accounts these folks represent about 1 in 20 workers. The idea that all of these people can be rounded up and sent back over the border is ridiculous. We are talking about millions of people who have been allowed over the course of many years to come here to the United States. I think a guest worker program or something like it is needed. But then again without adequate border security such a program will not be fully utilized.
Most of all it seems that this gives the right wing of the party yet another reason to sabotage their president and with him their best chance of winning in 2006. Some people just can not get out of their own way.
I know this is not the kind of pandering people expect, but this is one moderate who is getting really tired of the chest pounding and not one more dime speeches from the Buchanan branch of the party.
It seems there are two bills and two approaches out there now, one thing we can be sure of the Democrats will exploit this the same way they exploited the Dubai nonsense. Hillary Clinton has already pointed out that the Republicans would have made a criminal of Jesus. Absurd I know, but effective.
Sometimes I hate politics.
The Bush administration is calling for a comprehensive bill that encompasses border security as well as some provision for temporary workers in the United States. A bill that addresses only border security, or a failure to win any bill at all, could represent yet another setback for the president. Many analysts believe that no bill is the most likely outcome.
"Given the president's approval rating these days, and with one-third of the Senate up for re-election this year, they are not going to follow the president off the cliff on this one," said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposes what it sees as amnesty.
"If the Senate does go ahead and pass something that looks like amnesty, they will never get this passed in the House," Mehlman said.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who has presidential ambitions, has made it clear he will push a straight border-protection bill if senators can't agree on another plan. But Senate Democrats vow to oppose an enforcement-only bill, with Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., arguing that immigration has been haphazard for decades and that making criminals of millions of people serves no purpose.
Frist has pressured the Senate Judiciary Committee to produce a bill, saying that if they can't, he will take his own plan to a Senate vote the final week of March. Frist has prompted the divided committee to take another stab at an agreement when senators return from recess Monday.
Since Bush started a renewed push for immigration reform in January 2004, the former Texas governor, who has a firsthand understanding of border issues, has insisted that the United States should be able to match "willing workers" with "willing employers."
"We see millions of hardworking men and women condemned to fear and insecurity in a massive, undocumented economy," Bush said then, proposing a new legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants enabling them to work several years in the United States and then return home. He has insisted that this is not amnesty.
But Bush has invested little time in pushing an immigration bill, and he has not threatened to veto an enforcement-only bill.
Compromise is not a dirty word. And right now we could use some of it.