Word Games at the Border

As Bush paints a big picture on immigration 'reform,' it is clear that Karl Rove is a genius at political Scrabble

By Mark Cromer, Senior Writing Fellow

As President Bush on Monday again stood along a dusty stretch of America’s southern border to once more push for a legislative package of comprehensive immigration “reform” measures, just how transparently thin his commitment is to enforcing the nation’s immigration laws was abundantly clear.

Sure, two of the four prerequisites that he insisted must be in any reform package for him to sign are enforcement-based; with tougher patrols and controls along the border and more aggressive worksite screenings in the interior.

Bush even chose Yuma, AZ, for a double-shot of symbolism to bolster his case, as the hardscrabble town sits just north of the border and has long been a busy hub for the thousands of illegal immigrants who cross into the nation everyday. In the past year, Department of Homeland Security politicos have hailed reduced interdictions of illegal immigrants along the Yuma corridor as proof-positive that they mean business when it comes to securing the border.

Of course, it’s all semantically-driven parlor tricks, the hocus pocus of Bush’s border security plan: now you see it, now you don’t. Or more accurately: here today, gone tomorrow.

Yet far more important than what Bush said and where he said it, is what Bush didn’t say and where he refuses to visit for a look around with the White House press pool in tow.

As he pushed for immigration reform, the President did not utter a peep about the more than 600,000 fugitive aliens that the inspector general’s office for Homeland Security estimates roam freely throughout the country today.

While the DHS’s Fugitive Operations Teams have been swamped by the sheer size of its caseload and the bureaucratic neglect and incompetence that has marked the federal government’s response to this crisis; the Bush Administration is dusting off its ‘Mission Accomplished!’ banners they saved from the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln.

Yet Bush neglected to mention that there are nearly double the number of fugitive aliens loose in the country today than there were when the terrorists struck on September 11, 2001.

He also failed to describe with hard specifics just what he was prepared to do to vigorously enforce and protect the nation’s shattered sovereignty; both at the border and in its vast interior.

No innovative new strategies. No warning shots across the bows of corrupt governments in Latin America who encourage mass migrations of their poorest citizens to the United States in total violation of our laws. No vow to the American people to relentlessly prosecute the top management of habitual corporate violators and insist on mandatory minimums in sentencing as his administration has done with petty drug offenders.

No sense of passion or commitment to the American citizen, let alone outrage at the illegal immigration crisis. 

Nope. Just more empty rhetoric glazed over with a fresh frosting of new euphemisms for what effectively is amnesty. Say what you will about his dancing skills, Karl Rove is undoubtedly a genius at Scrabble.

The President should at least have the courage of his convictions, enough so to openly embrace amnesty and make his best case for it. He should sit down with the American people in a national address one evening soon and give his best shot at supporting a mass amnesty.

At least he’d be the “straight shooter” he allegedly was before he made it to Washington.

But Bush can’t afford to talk straight on immigration reform because the vast majority of the American people want to see years of sustained and fully-funded enforcement measures before they will brook any consideration of a mass legalization of those illegal immigrants already here.

But Bush and his like-minded cohorts in Congress can't possibly make their desired reform package contingent upon something that they have no intention of undertaking: serious and sustained enforcement. So they have to force it through as a “comprehensive” package deal all at once and let the chips fall where they may once it is a fait accompli

One of the richer—if perhaps more subtle ironies—of the President’s immigration address was indeed his choice of Yuma, which placed him in the heart of a parched region that top climate scientists have now declared to be in a state of “permanent drought.”

Illegal immigration is the single largest contributor to population growth in the United States today, yet on Monday Bush blissfully ignored the corrosive effects of spiraling population densities in America’s increasingly crowded southwest even while vital natural resources like groundwater drain away toward a tipping point of no-return.

The President's refusal to even mention the epic numbers his proposed reform plan will add to the nation--both legally and illegally--in the face of diminishing resources like water, is simply an abrogation of his most fundamental responsibilities as Commander in Chief. 

Of course, I can’t say that comes as a surprise anymore.

Mark Cromer is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), www.capsweb.org . He can be reached at Mrcromer@aol.com or info@capsweb.org.

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