Bush’s Immigration Speech

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


I didn’t bother listening to Bush’s speech on immigration last night, but Kevin Drum’s got a handy summary:

Beef up the borders with troops and high tech wizardry but insist that it’s not “militarization”; start up a guest worker program that’s not called a guest worker program; introduce an amnesty program but insist that it’s not an amnesty program (it’s not, it’s not, it’s not!); and crack down on employers who employ illegal immigrants while pretending that they’re actually victims of highly sophisticated fraud rather than willing coconspirators aided and abetted by the business wing of the Republican Party.

Well, let’s see. He wants to deploy 6,000 National Guardsmen to the border. Let’s do some counting. The United States has approximately 7,500 miles of remote and often rugged land border, plus miles of coastal and Caribbean border to patrol. The agents have to work in shifts. So… um… well, the TRAC project estimates that even 11,000 patrollers would come to one agent every four miles. This could be the most futile game of Red Rover ever devised. Maybe the guards can use those handy “motion sensors” to help out. We’ll just hope they don’t get tripped by wandering deer.

Bush is also expanding detention facilities for immigrants. If you want to see inhumane, check out this old interview I did with Mark Dow about immigrant detention facilities. “[E]xtreme forms of physical abuse are common.” Seems like something the president could really get behind. And then there’s this “guest worker program” business. Conservatives hate it, because the last time it was enacted, back in 1986, lots of illegal immigration ensued. Liberals should hate it because it’s a way for businesses to import a captive labor force, one that won’t complain about low pay or poor labor standards for fear of deportation.

So those proposals are all ludicrous. Now if either the president or Congress really wanted to crack down on illegal immigration, they’d institute a national identity card and levy steep fines on employers that hired illegally. If the supply of jobs dries up, presumably fewer immigrants will come here. So that, plus a path to citizenship for current immigrants and realistic (i.e., larger) quotas for legal immigrants would help “control” the flow of people coming in. And to his partial credit, Bush did also propose something along those lines. It’s not nearly as liberal as I would have liked (Bush’s is a business-friendly approach rather than a liberal approach, hence the guest-worker programs), but I guess it’s a start. But seeing as how conservatives are now on suicide watch over Bush’s speech, it seems quite unlikely that any sort of immigration reform will pass this year.

UPDATE: The Christian Science Monitor has a good critical take on border enforcement here. I’d also note that border enforcement is often better at deterring immigrants from returning home rather than preventing them from coming in the first place. Keeping people in rather than out. So it can actually lead to a greater immigrant population than would otherwise be the case.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate