Now would be a particularly bad time for the president to push for amnesty under the rubric of comprehensive immigration reform — an approach that failed Bush, despite economic good times and supposedly a supportive base.
With unemployment near 10 percent, with unprecedented violence pouring over the border, and with a divisive health-care debate not yet healed, why go down that road? Most of the arguments of the last century are now dated: Already we are seeing more Californians mowing their own lawns, and students as never before willing to take most jobs that come up. (Unemployment is near 20 percent in the interior of California and most are not picky about the few jobs out there.)
The public is starting to correlate the massive amount of remittances sent back to Latin American (perhaps well over $40 billion) with commensurate rising public subsidies to illegal aliens, funded by the now-strapped taxpayer.
And Mexico has become far more violent than Iraq, suggesting to most that the border should be less, not more, porous. Simply enforcing the law — finish the fence, keep fining employers, increased patrols on the border, push for verifiable IDs — will stop the flow. Those newly arrived, or in trouble with the criminal justice system, will at some point come to the attention of authorities, if the latter wish it. And long-term, illegal residents can apply for legal residency in ways the Congress at its leisure can fight over — once the border is secure and the powers of assimilation, integration, and intermarriage are allowed to work at last on a static, and soon to be shrinking, population.
An amnesty bill at this time would be about the most divisive move imaginable.