On Manufactured Issues

George W. Bush's speech last night a resounding success. Why you ask? Because I'm talking about his speech and the manufactured issue of illegal immigration rather than his illegal spying on Americans, his failure in Iraq, the continued failure in Louisiana, the ever present rumors of Karl Rove's resignation, rising oil prices, or an economy that only seems to be good for CEOs. That aside, let's look at the speech.

First, Bush's intro was rather weak. He pandered and blubbered about being a country of immigrants' in a completely unconvincing manner. His comments about illegal immigration bringing crime to neighborhoods was rather insulting.

Then came Bush's call to militarize the U.S. - Mexico border. This is a bad idea for many reasons. First, regardless of how many times Bush (or anybody else) tells Mexico the troops are for catching illegal immigrants, the Mexicans will station troops along the border too. Have you ever seen a border where only one side had troops along it? Plus the constitutional questions about National Guard troops doing law enforcement work. Yeah, he said they wouldn't be doing it, but I don't believe him.

And now the meat. Bush's Guest worker program is, as Gov. Dean noted on the Daily Show, glorified indentured servitude.

This program would match willing foreign workers with willing American employers for jobs Americans are not doing. Every worker who applies for the program would be required to pass criminal background checks. And temporary workers must return to their home country at the conclusion of their stay. A temporary worker program would meet the needs of our economy, and it would give honest immigrants a way to provide for their families while respecting the law. A temporary worker program would reduce the appeal of human smugglers and make it less likely that people would risk their lives to cross the border.
Ignoring the fact that Bush said 'jobs Americans are not doing' not 'jobs Americans won't do' or 'jobs Americans don't want' - the idea of allowing 'guest workers' essentially creates a two class system for people living in America. This is followed by bio-metric ID cards for immigrants ("I need to see your papers, sir" is something that shouldn't be said in America anywhere but at immigration when entering the country.)

Then the usual 'honor the melting pot but learn English and adopt our ways' crap with a chaser of 'keep this contentious discussion civil.' Can't have the moderates thinking the President is a racist xenophobe. At least not before the midterms.

* * * * *

So aside from being a resounding success (nobody's talking about the NSA) this speech was a colossal failure. The only people that thought illegal immigration was a pressing problem, at least when compared to the Global War on Terrortm, the War in Iraq, the economy, oil prices, etc. were people that already agreed with the president. The racist, xenophobic wing of the Republican Party really doesn't like Mexicans. And for them, Bush's speech didn't go far enough. His 'this isn't amnesty' pitch was aimed right at them and they aren't going to buy it. Or at least I wouldn't. The same with the 'illegals that have been here for X number of years get to stay' idea he tried to float.

At the same time, this speech does nothing to help continue the inroads Republicanism had made into the Latino community. Bush equivocating and talking about melting pots won't convince people that are pro-immigrant that Bush's initiative is about anything but xenophobia and the midterm elections. Bush tried to triangulate and all it got him was nothing from both sides.

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