Friday, April 07, 2006

Overdue Presidential Hardball

President Bush has drawn a line - saying he opposes a fence on the border with Mexico. In one sense, I do not like fences, since they work both ways. But, on the other hand, this is precisely the kind of hardball that is needed. Particularly after 15,000 additional Border Patrol agents, 3,000 additional ICE inspectors, tougher penalties for forging documents and alien smuggling, a mandatory emplyoment verification program, and other measures was not sufficient.

I have no problem with the construction of a virtual fence using surveillance technology and UAVs, and adding more agents to CBP and ICE. The use of MQ-1 Predators may make drug gangs think twice about trying to shoot it out with the Border Patrol.

But a real fence... a 1,951-mile Berlin Wall on the border with Mexico? No way, at least not without serious concessions from the proponents of a wall. Where to start?

* Increase legal immigration by at least 50%.

* Add a guest worker program.

* Provide a way for the 12,000,000 people to come out of the shadows in return for a reduced penalty (a fine and repayment of back taxes). Calling this an amnesty (which is a general pardon granted by a government) is no more truthful than calling the reductions in the rate of growth in spending for Medicare "cuts" as the Democrats did in 1995. There is punishment present in this proposal - it is just not the punishment hard-liners like Michelle Malkin and Tom Tancredo want.

* Pass into law clear and objective conditions for entry into this country as a tourist , a guest worker, a student, and a permanent resident. No more will there be any basis in law for stories like the ones Dafydd posted as a comment at 1:28 PM on this post at Big Lizards. Similar objective and clear requirements for citizenship (with a bare minimum being command of the English language, American history, and civics at a high school level, at least eight years in this country with no serious legal problems, and employment) need to be placed into effect. If people meet these qualifications (or if it cannot be proven they do not meet them within a reasonable time period), then the government should be told to issue the visa on a first-come first-served basis, with exceptions for those who might be in physical danger.

If they want to deal, they can accept these terms, and then we can discuss what kind of fence goes up. This probably sounds harsh, but there seems to be no other way for President Bush to get through to House Republicans, who have already taken part in the disgusting betrayal of a reliable ally in the war on terror, and who have no desire to reform a law that has gone wrong.

Well, maybe if there is a veto or two, and if the business community speaks out enough, the obstinancy of the House Republicans will change. either that, or maybe they will head back to the minority until they learn to address real problems with reasonable solutions, as they largely did in 1995.

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