The name Ed Meese brings back happy memories of times gone by, so I read his op-ed in the New York Times today with great interest. Here's Meese's proposal for addressing illegal immigration:
The fair and sound policy is to give those who are here illegally the opportunity to correct their status by returning to their country of origin and getting in line with everyone else. This, along with serious enforcement and control of the illegal inflow at the border — a combination of incentives and disincentives — will significantly reduce over time our population of illegal immigrants.I think this is essentially what my fellow conservatives want to see done too. If so, then I have these questions:
- Politically, how are you going to sell this? You're asking the opposing side of the issue either to give up their demand for a guest worker program altogether, or to do so in return for a promise that we'll do "something," someday, about the illegals already here, but only after we've taken care of the enforcement problem. Meese says conservatives are "being offered [a] deal in exchange for promises largely dependent on the will of future Congresses and presidents." Well, isn't that what you're asking your opponents to accept-- a promise of future action in return for giving up on a major point?
- Consider a man in his 20's who was brought here by his parents when he was 3 years old. He's grown up here, speaks English, can speak conversational Spanish but cannnot read or write it, and has graduated from college. He's married and has a couple of kids, who are American citizens because they were born here. He's never been to Mexico, or maybe has visited relatives there two or three times in his life. Do you really expect him to pick up and return to Mexico? What will the public reaction be to hundreds of thousands of such forced relocations? Do you want Republicans and conservatives to be identified with such personal tragedies, which will get endless news media attention? Note: I am not defending the situation of such a man; I am describing a reality that we have to deal with.
- Do you know any American citizen who wants to go pick strawberries or lettuce all day in the hot sun for months at a time? This is a serious question, one that I don't think you can answer with a straight face. Drive around California's Central Valley and look at all the thousands of people doing such work. Where are you going to get their replacements?
- Meese says "President Bush and Congress would do better to start with securing the border and strengthening enforcement of existing immigration laws. We might also try improving on Ronald Reagan's idea of a pilot program for genuinely temporary workers." Okay, let's hear more about that program for "genuinely temporary workers." I thought that was anathema to you all. Can you really live with such a program? How would you make it work? Details, please.
- Do you have any close friends of Hispanic descent?
Come back to the real world.
Please don't sanctimoniously ask me, "What part of illegal don't you understand?"
Tell me, what are your answers to the questions above?