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Ear to the Ground

Bush’s Immigration Plan Pleases No One

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Posted on May 15, 2006
Bush immigration speech
AP Television News

In this video image taken from AP Television News, President Bush speaks on immigration in a television broadcast from the Oval Office, Monday, May 15. Truthdig contributor Marc Cooper takes issue with the president’s plan.

If you want to read expert analysis on the politics and policies behind Bush’s speech, check out Truthdig’s Marc Cooper’s article.


New York Times:

CHICAGO, May 15 ? As Jose F. watched President Bush’s address from an apartment on this city’s Northwest side, he shook his head fiercely at moments: at the prospect of tamper-proof identification cards for legal workers, at the many mentions of increased border security, and at what he saw, in the end, as uncertainty of the future Mr. Bush intended for illegal immigrants like himself.

“I worry about the militarization and whether this will mean more deaths on the border,” said Jose F., 27, who sneaked in from Mexico nearly eight years ago and who asked that his last name not be used because he feared losing his job at a social services agency, deportation or both. “And identification cards will only make it harder to survive, and people will have to go further underground and work for cash.”

In Houston, meanwhile, Louise Whiteford watched the president with equal skepticism. Ms. Whiteford, president of Texans for Immigration Reform, a group opposed to illegal immigration and founded in 1999, swiftly took issue with several of Mr. Bush’s promises and accomplishments, including an increase in the Border Patrol to 12,000 agents from 9,000 since his administration took over.

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By Nora Ramirez, September 19, 2007 at 7:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I saw the speech that President Bush gave.
I was born in Mexico and i think that President Bush should allow citizenships for the people that are here more than 10 years and the fact that they don’t do any pentalities or have bad records. I think that people should be able to work here and try to have resident cards or have citizenship. I am not saying either that President Bush should give Citizenships to everybody but i think that he should really give “my people” a chance to be here and to feel safe going anywere without having to watch their backs ever time.

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By Ken Duerksen, May 17, 2006 at 3:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Beyond the Protection of Our Laws”
Subject: What Did Bush Mean by “Beyond the Protection of Our Laws?”
Last night in his address Bush stated that illegal aliens “are a part of American life, but they are beyond the reach and protection of American law.”

I find this statement to be disturbing. The first clause is merely irrelevant: essentially everyone is “beyond the reach” of our laws until they are not; any fugitive remains a fugitive until apprehended. It’s the part about being “beyond the protection” of our legal system that strikes me as ominous for a number of reasons.

Firstly: it is untrue. Constitutional law explicitly extends the Bill of Rights to all “persons”, not just citizens, on American soil. Now some could argue that the president was merely identifying the fact that the cryptic lives led out of necessity by illegal aliens facilitate their abuse and exploitation, and this position would have some merit. But I assert that the content and context of the president’s address represent not only an acknowledgment but a subtle endorsement of this situation.

This speech was nothing but a promise to the Republican party’s ultimate right-wing base - made essentially inevitable by his plummeting poll numbers across other demographic sectors - that the president shares their concerns. The introduction to the address describes illegal aliens that “sneak across our borders”, “live in the shadows”, and “bring crime to our communities”. Furthermore, he also within the first few minutes explicitly identifies and exonerates the employers of undocumented workers as victims of these lurking conspirators:

“Many use forged documents to get jobs, and that makes it difficult for employers to verify that the workers they hire are legal.”

The entire effect is to underwrite the xenophobic scape-goating of illegal immigrants that has long been a durable touchstone of the right wing.

In this demagogic context the president’s statement that illegal immigrants are “beyond the protection of our laws” takes on a chilling aspect. Is this a wink-and-nod to the bands of agitated “minutemen” that the gloves can finally come off? Is he telling employers that they can from here on out take a more sanguine approach to the management of this vulnerable labor pool than the government has previously allowed? Well, I don’t know; but I’m watching the administration and their media organs for this particular phrase to show up as an echoed talking point.

Ken Duerksen

Oxford, Ohio

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