Ed from OC

Bush's Speech

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From Bush's speech tonight on his plan to deal with illegal immigration:

"It is neither wise nor realistic to round up millions of people, many with deep roots in the United States, and send them across the border. There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation. That middle ground recognizes that there are differences between an illegal immigrant who crossed the border recently and someone who has worked here for many years, and has a home, a family, and an otherwise clean record. I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law to pay their taxes to learn English and to work in a job for a number of years. People who meet these conditions should be able to apply for citizenship but approval would not be automatic, and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law. What I have just described is not amnesty it is a way for those who have broken the law to pay their debt to society, and demonstrate the character that makes a good citizen."

(Bold mine.)

So this "meaningful penalty" for breaking immigration laws is to do just what honest citizens do everyday? Paying taxes, learning English and working a job for a "number of years" is the equivalent of paying fines or doing time behind bars or being deported? Then what does that say about the status of honest citizens? What crimes did we commit to deserve the same "meaningful penalty?"

I haven't thought about the rest of the speech enough to comment right now, but this point I just couldn't let pass without comment.

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I took “pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law” as a separate item in the list of things they “should have to” do.

I think it should have been punctuated like this:

I believe that illegal immigrants who have roots in our country and want to stay should have; to pay a meaningful penalty for breaking the law, to pay their taxes, to learn English and to work in a job for a number of years.

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I think "meaningful penalty" refers to paying a fine, and as a phrase is separate from the other remarks in the sentence. In the past week I have heard several different figures bandied about, but the most usual amount was a $2000 fine.

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--------

In the past week I have heard several different figures bandied about, but the most usual amount was a $2000 fine.

Hmmm. Let's see 2000 times what is it, 12 million illegals. That's 24 billion dollars. We can double that by imposing matching fines on the employers. Where does all that money go? Will our taxes be reduced? I just love when the government imposes fines and then uses the money for who knows what. Then the Republicans claim that they've lowered our taxes.

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The whole scheme was so vague as to be meaningless. He wants them to volunteer for whatever the undefined minimalist "penalty" is, with nothing said about what happens if they don't. Does illegal mean illegal or not? If he thinks that the laws are so wrong there should be mass amnesty then he should say so, but he emphatically claims he doesn't support amnesty either, while saying nothing one way or the other about repealing the laws that will continue to be routinely circumvented. It looks like the status quo would remain, except for politicians making a show parading the national guard around, more non-objective law, and yet another level of bureaucracy from which nothing good will come, while actual problems are left unaddressed.

It was also awfully strange to hear him claim how serious it is that so many people are coming over the border illegally and how he is going to save the day with the National Guard -- almost 6 years into his administration during which he has done nothing. He seemed more concerned with not offending the President of the People's State of Mexico.

Meanwhile, nothing was even hinted at concerning reform of the mess that is the current legal immigration system and what the proper principles of immigration law should be.

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I thought there were some things to like about the President's proposal. Certainly it's a long way from ideal (which would be elimination of immigration quotas) but it is clearly superior to what we have now. Presently people risk life and limb to cross the border and work in this country. If the President's plan is passed many of these people will be able to work in this country legally. I think this is a good thing.

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