Thursday, February 21, 2008

The good George...

…and the evil George.

In a White House document entitled “Guiding Principles in U.S. Discussions with Mexico” dated February 16, 2001, President Bush makes two statements separated by only 67 words. These statements reveal the conflict within the mind of the President that dooms immigration reform.

Statement #1: “Our most important obligation is to those who follow the rules and abide by the law. The only path is the legal path.”
Statement #2: “The program would rest on a carefully worked out partnership between the sending and receiving countries that recognizes the contributions undocumented Mexicans are making in the United States and that brings together willing workers and willing employers.”

In August of 2001 Bush told an audience, “Remember, we've got hardworking citizens who are willing to walk 400 miles of desert in blistering heat to find work.”

He made a similar statement on September 6, 2001 during a speech in Ohio with Vicente Fox. “Think about the Mexican worker who walks 500 miles across a desert to find work. Those are hard-working citizens.”

Note that in both cases he calls them “citizens.” In his mind, the effort expended in sneaking across the border and putting your life at risk in the process qualifies you for citizenship. He spent much more time and effort in that first year in office on legalization than he did on the rule of law.

And when he talks about improvements in enforcement, he has to go back to 1993 to quote a decent percentage of change. Here’s an example from his outline in February of 2001 where Bush talks about the number of Border Patrol agents: “This is 12 percent more than 2001 and represents more than 175 percent growth in agent staffing since 1993.” And most of that 175% is attributed to the Clinton administration when they added 3,860 agents before Bush even moved into the White House.

Bush was also in favor of extending 245(i), a little known personal amnesty that Clinton used extensively. 245(i) essentially allowed illegal aliens who could prove that they broke the law and were already working in the United States to apply for a green card, assuming the employer was willing to keep them on the payroll.

Another theme that emerges early in George’s first term is the idea of enlarging NAFTA. Again, from February 16, 2001, Bush says, “We reaffirm our support for the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas as soon as possible. We believe our two nations can now build an authentic partnership for prosperity.” The first meeting about the plan was held in Quebec in April of 2001.

In an interesting case of wordsmithing, after 9/11 the Bush Administration added the word “Security” to the program. It is now known as the “Security and Prosperity Partnership.”

So we can see that amnesty and super NAFTA were firm plans for Bush right from the beginning. What is harder to see is why? The economy was already soft before 9/11, wages were low (especially for low-skilled jobs), manufacturing was continuing to leave the country, and there was turmoil at the border over trespassers. Why on earth would Bush call it leadership to encourage illegal alien workers here and jobs in Mexico?

And even more puzzling, why would he hold to that belief for EIGHT YEARS? The easy answer is Hispanic voters, but he would be a fool to risk it all just for that.

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