“Once here, illegal immigrants live in the shadows of our society. Many use forged documents to get jobs, and that makes it difficult for employers to verify that the workers they hire are legal. Illegal immigration puts pressure on public schools and hospitals, strains state and local budgets, and brings crime to our communities.”
- George W. Bush, Speech on Immigration Reform, May 15th, 2006
"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. This initial commitment of Guard members would last for a period of one year. After that, the number of Guard forces will be reduced as new Border Patrol agents and new technologies come online. It is important for Americans to know that we have enough Guard forces to win the war on terror, respond to natural disasters, and help secure our border. "
- George W. Bush, Speech on Immigration Reform, May 15th, 2006
"I think I'll go back to San Juan!!"
"I know a boat you can get on!!"
- from West Side Story, Life is Goood in America - Sondheim and Bernstein
May 16th, 2006
It's a trick.
Watch! There's nothing up my sleeve and nothing in my hat and at no time do my fingers ever leave my hand. That's usually what you hear before a magician's trick. Bush's speech last night was no less than an oratory form of prestidigitation.
What else would you call it?
Immigration, which has been a public topic probably for the last 40 years or so, has "suddenly" found itself in the news with presidential policy. One would have to ask, "Why?" Why would this administration, which is up to its eyeballs in scandal, which is currently fighting a war after a "mission accomplished", which has used up most of our National Guard to fight the war in Iraq - so much so that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina there were not enough guardsmen to give assistance to the victims focus on immigration reform. Which, by the way, on the list of things we have to worry about should be on page 8 after "Is there really a problem with Athlete's Foot among Americans?"
Yes, I know. There is an issue with Homeland Security. Um, but if we can remember correctly, not only did the 9-11 terror attack originate from Canada, the foiled Millennium Y2K terrorist attempt originated from there, too. None have come from Mexico. Does that mean that they'll never come from Mexico? No. But, if we were really worried about Homeland Security, we'd start by working with the successful leak rather than the possible leak.
But I'm not going to debate whether stopping illegals in Canada or Mexico is right or not. It's obvious that it still has to be done and improved upon. However, in the Bush tradition of incompetence, we are looking at yet another unfeasible plan. How can you protect a border that is over 1,200 miles long with only 6,000 troops? The distance that Bush spoke of was the 1,200 miles only for Texas, we also have California, New Mexico, and Arizona. The border is actually more than 2,000 miles long. 6,000 troops must be spread out 7 by 24 in 3 shifts a day. Bush is a man with a track record of sending only 11,000 troops into Afghanistan to look for Bin Laden shortly after 9-11. He is truly the president of "too little, too late".
It is because of the "waste of time" we've been spending in Iraq, military recruitment is at an all time low. Plus, the soldiers that are currently in Iraq still need to come home when their hitch is done. We should be mindful that when a man enlists in the National Guard, there is a strong possibility he will go to Iraq for military service. Technically, this really isn't supposed to happen for the one weekend a month and 2 weeks a year (for eight years). But if you know any Viet Nam War Vets who were National Guardsmen, you may wish to have a little chat with them about that deal. (Yeah, I know, "draft", "different time", "different place". History, though, has a way of repeating itself.)
When the last large flux of enlisted men came through was on September, 12th 2001. These were the guys that thought that upon enlistment they'd be going off to Afghanistan to find Bin Laden. Instead, they got shipped to Iraq. You really get no choice on where they send you.
For this immigration problem, however, there are time and resource issues to take into consideration. This is essentially a logistical problem.
I think it can work, though - if the government starts to get creative. And given our president's morals and brain matter, this won't happen.
Now, the following suggestion is being made by a man who has not seen active service (me, not Dubya) and is too old to enlist. With that in mind, let's view this country as our ancestors viewed America: The Land of Opportunity. Offer an opportunity to an illegal alien.
Here's my idea: The United States of America will grant citizenship to any illegal alien who is willing to do a 2-3 year hitch in the United States Military. Provided that the candidate can, A) clear a background criminal check and B) be physically able to perform military service. In the military, the US will provide an English Language course in conversational English and will provide amnesty to not only the enlisted man but also to all children under age 18 in the enlisted man's household. With this, the military will offer paid salary for the enlisted man, and upon release award veteran's benefits.
We'd also get a taxpayer out of the situation and someone who I can truly say has "earned his keep". For everyone who can't enlist, you may need to go back home and get back in line with the rest of people who are doing it the right way and/or work in conjunction with Bush's plan of temporary citizenship.
Meanwhile, for our American troops who are ALREADY in Iraq and would like to come home, they may get an opportunity to serve as a border patrolman.
Okay, now that we've talked about the actual feasible solution to the human resource problem of border patrol, let's also remember that this entire speech and initiative is the smoke and mirrors of what we've come to expect from the Bush Administration. C'mon guys, these are the people who brought us the daily color terrorist alerts that would go up and down around the same time Bush would lose a popularity poll.
Americans are not that stupid - Well, at least the ones that don't watch American Idol or Fox News, anyway. When we get sick of nonsense we show our anger in a big way. And as more and more poll numbers come out, we see that the Bush Administration's tactics of fear and intimidation don't work as well. The last I heard Bush's popularity poll was at around 29%. Ask any New Yorker or New Jersey Commuter who has had to regularly travel about Manhattan post 9-11 if they are sick of the nonsense that has been perpetuated in the name of Homeland Security.
Most intelligent people who saw the speech last night as a transparent attempt to take attention away from the mounting evidence of the Valerie Plame affair and the fact that Dick Cheney is one rat hair molecule away from going to jail or, at least, being impeached. Personally, I'll be happy if they just get Karl Rove with this indictment. It could also be to take attention away from the aftermath of the Downing Street memo or even the fact that Donald Rumsfeld signed memos granting torture to detainees. For anyone who wants a good read, pick up a copy of The Case For Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office by Dave Lindorff and Barbara Olshansky.*
Immigration and citizenship to an American are serious issues. When not having to explain the actions of our evil, incompetent head of state, we are proud to proclaim to the world that we are Americans. As Chris Mathews explained in last night's Countdown with Keith Oberman , the president used poor rhetoric in saying "We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say." Americans who are born here have no papers proclaiming that and we take offense to anyone saying that they are an American because they took a test.
Theodore Roosevelt put it best - "There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all. This is just as true of the man who puts "native" before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen. Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance. But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as any one else."