EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears in the January 26, 2004, issue of National Review.
President Bush has kicked off his reelection year by proposing an amnesty for illegal aliens dressed up as a guest-worker program, plus the importation of millions of new guest workers and a significant increase in immigration. What is the White House thinking?
The administration first floated the idea of a guest-worker amnesty in 2001, during President Bush’s honeymoon meeting with Mexico’s President Vicente Fox, but discussions came to a halt because of 9/11 (as well as ferocious opposition from House Republicans). Over the subsequent two years, the administration issued occasional statements expressing the continued desire to reach an immigration deal with Mexico – but the complete lack of substance in these pronouncements, combined with Secretary of State Colin Powell’s careful efforts to keep expectations low, suggested it was little more than talk, intended to appease the beleaguered Fox administration and curry favor with hostile Hispanic racial-identity groups in this country.
But there is more to the current amnesty talk than the sweet nothings of diplomacy. The president has unveiled the outlines of his proposal in anticipation of his planned meeting with Fox during the January 12-13 “Summit of the Americas” in Monterrey, Mexico. It is described as a guest-worker program, but the “guest” concept is deceptive; in fact, the program would provide for the permanent importation of thousands of new workers from overseas and amnesty for illegal aliens already here.
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