“Deport ’em all!” has come the cry from talk radio hosts in response to President Bush’s proposal to create a new guest-worker status for the estimated 8-12 million illegal aliens now living in the United States.
“An abomination!” columnist Michelle Malkin called the proposal on a TV show.
“An insult!” legal immigrants have protested.
“Amnesty!” has come the widespread howl.
Step back. Stop. Think. Imagine you have some administrative responsibility for the actual running of the United States government, some influence on its economy, on its laws, on its stability. Imagine you have inherited (say) 10 million illegal residents, here, now, the actual consequence of terrible immigration policies and mostly non-existent immigration enforcement, accumulated over 30-plus years.
Imagine first the difficulty if you simply tried to “deport ’em all,” no matter how gradually (and this against the backdrop of being at war).
Our entire armed forces number significantly less than 10 million. It took more than a year to move half a million of them (plus equipment, true) to another country — and we know who those guys are, and they follow orders.
There is no law enforcement establishment in the free world large enough to move that many people. If the United States were to try, the call throughout the world would come: “Ethnic cleansing!” Some expert would say it on the BBC within 24 hours — nay, within two hours. And there would be some justification.
That’s one imagining.
Now imagine something else. Imagine that the President was Bill Clinton in 1996, that there were nine hapless Republican challengers scrumming toward the New Hampshire primary, stumbling all over themselves. In that ironic, postmodern day, what would have been the press’s first response? To admire President Clinton for once again “dominating the news cycle” and “taking the wind out of his opponents’ campaigns.”
Now consider these things.
President Bush didn’t have to do this at all. He didn’t have to do it now. He could have just kicked this can down the sidewalk toward his practically guaranteed second term, and then kicked it some more toward his successor’s first. If he just wanted to “dominate the news cycle,” he had any number of ways to do that, including the reported upcoming announcement of new long-term goals for the space program.
Some things to consider: There are quids pro quo here with Mexico involving the war on terror, and we don’t know about them, and won’t. NPR reports that Homeland Security and the CIA are actively at work in Mexico, for example.
Far from being a gift to American companies, the proposal forces U.S. employers to put themselves on the line to document, in some fashion, the illegals they now employ without paperwork — as my wife remarked, kind of like putting the onus for health insurance on companies.
Rush Limbaugh thinks this move represents part of the President and Karl Rove’s scheme to destroy the Democratic Party by peeling off just enough of several of their fragmented constituencies – oldsters, Hispanics, blacks — to stuff the Democrats into the black hole of a permanent minority. Within another election cycle, this theory says, the Dems will be as gone as the Whigs.
Maybe. Initial reaction, however, shows that as many legal Spanish-speaking immigrants will hate this proposal as love it. As a vote-getter, it’s a wash — probably worse, when you consider the outrage on the President’s right.
No, I think this is a pressing administrative issue that President Bush simply will not ignore. Further, it will set the stage for handling another even more exigent administrative issue that is one of George W. Bush’s most cherished dreams: reforming Social Security.
He did it on purpose.
He did it now, when he didn’t have to.