Since President Bush pushed immigration policy changes in his State of the Union speech last week, outraged missives have been piling up in my in-box -- from, of course, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, about whom I wrote here. The first one screamed: "Bush Offers no Solution for Illegal Immigration Crisis!" And the ones that followed decried proposals in the Senate as "a roadmap to Amnesty!" and warned that the government plans to "open the borders, not secure them."
In reality, the proposals, modeled after the measure sponsored by Senators Edward Kennedy and John McCain and passed during the last session, do beef up border enforcement while creating a guest-worker program and offering eventual citizenship to undocumented immigrants who pay fines, pass background checks and meet other requirements. This isn't exactly a "yellow brick road to amnesty," as MMCDC president Chris Simcox claims in his press release.
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Not that anyone expects his to be a voice for reason and logic.
Still, it's interesting, since when I wrote about the Minutemen in December, state director Clark Kirby told me that he and his volunteers were so disgusted with Bush's approach to immigration that many of them voted for Democrats in the election. But not surprisingly, the new Congress isn't doing their bidding, either. Perhaps Simcox and MMCDC should take note of the fact that most Americans aren't so keen on spending tax dollars on paddy wagons and storm troopers to simply round up the 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants who, it becomes clear when you run the numbers and talk to the people who know, keep our labor market afloat and our economy cranking. Or perhaps Simcox and his Minutemen didn't notice that most Santorum-style Republicans obsessed with the border fence and mass deportation were voted out of office last fall.
What the rabid anti-illegal immigrant camp fails to understand while raving about "amnesty" is that Reagan's Immigration Reform and Control Act did have a serious flaw, but it wasn't providing a path to legalization. Its flaw was awarding citizenship to a certain group while failing to establish a system that allows low-skilled workers to come here.
The people who shout, "What part of illegal don't you understand?" should study some immigration law. Iif they did, they'd find out that there is no legal way for the folks who build our houses, pick our fruit, mow our lawns and prepare our restaurant meals to come to the U.S. Not that we should bother with facts or reality, though. Better to just send out noisy press releases. --Megan Feldman