Immigration Debacle: All-or-nothingism begat nothing

Immigration Debacle: All-or-nothingism begat nothing September 15, 2007

Given the responses I got the last time I focused on this issue, I almost hate to bring it up…but here goes.

I think Tony Snow is exactly right when he says here:

“I deeply admire what [Mr. Bush] did on immigration and I think he’s right,” Mr. Snow said. “I think the policies the president outlined generally are the ones that eventually this country is going to adopt.”

Let us hope so, because the alternative “solutions” out there – “let everyone in and register them all Democrat” on the left and “ship them all back to Mexico no matter how long they’ve been here or how productive” – are neither workable nor just.

Snow also says, here,

“the White House was not prepared for the anger of foes of illegal immigration

For crying out loud, that’s a staggering statement when even I – a lowly and not terribly bright housewife – completely understood the mood of the illegal immigration extremists. They were not interested in any sort of “half-measure” by President Bush – they did not want Bush do what Reagan always tried to do, “get 75% of what you want and come back later for the rest.” No, the extremists on this issue, crying, “we’re the base, you better dance with who brung ya,” were relentlessly uncompromising on the matter of illegal immigration and President Bush – and any other politicians who disagreed with them or sought a more workable solution than “ship them back and build high, high walls” had their rhetorical heads smashed repeatedly against the rhetorical curbside.

I still have a few dents, myself.

The illegal immigration hardliners demanded “all or nothing at all,” from President Bush and the GOP leadership. And now, they have nothing, and no political power to do much of anything. Illegal immigrants are still entering the nation mostly unchecked. The useless NIS is no closer to being reformed and retooled into something useful. There are no plans to design as sort of Ellis Island West, to actually process potential citizen immigrants “the way my grandfather came into New York – legally!” as the hardliner crows. Nothing is being done. But hey…at least the folks with the high, strong principals can sleep at night knowing they didn’t compromise!

A long time ago I wrote that the blood of many may well rest on the heads of those who would not get serious about the War on Terror. By the same token, I think it would not be completely unfair to state that the increases and excesses of illegal immigrants – and whatever political fall-out or legislative impotence comes from once more refusing to deal realistically with an issue that has been ignored for decades – will rest on the heads on those who took a hard, uncompromising line; those who managed to drop-kick the first president to try to effect positive change, and further weaken his entire presidency, while still getting nothing done. This issue was not well-played, folks. And just because the only ones still talking about it are the one-noters in internet forums doesn’t mean the issue is put to bed. Far from it. The reckoning – and the issue itself – has simply been kicked down the road for the time being, launched by a tantrum of “conservative anger”, which sent it nowhere good.

In the Wall Street Journal today the editorial writers take a look at how the hardline stance against illegal Mexican immigrants (come on, you never hear about the illegal Irish all over Boston or Long Island) can hurt the GOP and conservatives politically. They’re right to be concerned. When conservative and Republicans find themselves further weakened politically because they’ve managed to give the back of their hand to what every year becomes a more substantial portion of the electorate, who will they blame? They’ll have no right to blame George W. Bush – who tried to deal with the issue – but they may try to. It’s easy to blame Bush for everything, after all. But the truth is, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.

I have a suspicion, just a little one – it’s anecdotal and nothing I can cite – but a suspicion nonetheless that some of the folks who jumped on the “all or nothing, ship them back, Bush has betrayed the base” bandwagon are beginning to regret the ride…turns out it was just a merry-go-round, after all.


Mrs Falconer’s Cababa Boy
also suggests that conservatives give this issue another try before the election. H/T Pianogirl.


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