Bush's Amnesty Opposed
Republicans who want to slow immigration to the United States and crack down on illegal immigrants believe they are gaining political strength and public backing, which may pose a problem next year for President Bush.
Bush has already signaled his intention to push a major proposal to allow some of the estimated 8 million to 10 million illegal immigrants in the country to gain legal work visas for up to six years as part of a "guest worker" program.
"Guest worker" is Washington-speak for an illegal immigrant whose presence within the U.S. has been granted legal recognition by an American administration that places no value on American culture or national security, save that which it can rhetorically use to increase its own power. The Bush administration's willingness to permit millions of illegal immigrants to swarm across the nation's southern border during a time of war is nothing short of malfeasance, and runs directly counter to the expressed wishes of the American people.
"Public opinion is unquestionably on our side," said Paul Egan of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington group that seeks to limit legal migration and strengthen U.S. borders.
"Americans are saying 'no' to Bush's guest worker program and 'no' to amnesty for illegal immigrants. Legislators are beginning to get the message that people are fed up of illegal immigration," Egan added.
But the administration has already shown that it has no respect for the opinions of the American people when it comes to immigration - or to deficit spending, or Wilsonian nation-building crusades abroad.
Led by powerful Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, anti-immigration conservatives recently defied the White House by insisting that a bill to reform the nation's intelligence services include anti-illegal alien provisions.
They want to prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining drivers licenses and withdraw recognition of ID cards issued by Latin American embassies.These legislators also intend to try to block implementation of a recent U.S. agreement with Mexico to allow workers who have divided their working lives between the two countries to gain retirement benefits based on the combined credits earned from both countries.
Drivers' licenses are the primary photo-identification documents used in the U.S. To permit illegal immigrants - whose provenance, background, criminal histories, religious and political affiliations are unknown by the government - to obtain drivers' licenses is sheer madness after September 11th. That the administration could support - or acquiese - to such a policy gives the lie to every pronouncement by Bush administration officials regarding their attempts to protect the nation for attack. Security begins by preventing the enemy from getting into the country - recall that the September 11th attackers had been living in the U.S. for months prior to the attack.
Bush's amnesty scheme has proven too much for many Republicans in Congress, who have given his proposals the cold shoulder.
"Sentiment has shifted dramatically in our favor over the past several years and even more in the past few months," [Rep. Tom] Tancredo told Reuters. "We have a significant majority in our (Republican) conference and upward of 175 to 180 members of the House pretty much committed."
Angela Kelley of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant group, said Tancredo was exaggerating his support but conceded probably one third of the House was behind him.
Tancredo predicted "very rough sledding" for Bush's guest worker proposal, but said it was possible to get it enacted if the president expended a lot of political capital.
The growing public opposition to illegal immigration has caught the attention of immigration scholars and advocates.
Immigration law expert Victor Romero of Penn State University believed the United States may be entering one of its periodic anti-immigration phases.
"History tells us this is cyclical and we may be seeing the front end of a cycle that suggests a more anti-immigration mood," he said.
Gee, one wonders why?