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PSN on May 18, 2006 - 1:03pm
The Bush Administration's latest move on immigration reform is yet another attempt likely to fail, at least in part because it ignored input from the people most impacted. Stateline reports that a number of Governors from both parties are upset both by the continued federal dependence on the Guard and by the lack of consultation from the White House before Bush proposed using National Guard forces as a stop-gap measure:
Gov. Bill Richardson (D) of New Mexico said he was concerned that the White House did not consult with governors in the weeks leading up to his Monday announcement. "A phone call three hours before delivering a speech is not the same as cooperation and consultation," Richardson said Monday in a statement.
Other Governors, including Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), Jon Huntsman (R-UT), and Jon Corzine (D-NJ), voiced concern that with Guard troops already being relied upon heavily in Iraq that additional missions are the last thing they need to be thinking about -- especially when their own states might face natural disasters.
Bush's plan relies on voluntary assistance from states to send their Guard soldiers into the command of a different Governor. And it also relies on Governors in border states buying into the program.
Perhaps most ironically, Bush is pushing the measure to supplement the border patrol with Guardsmen only until more border patrol can be hired, trained, and deployed. The reason there are not more border patrol already trained and working is that Bush underfunded his own law and scrapped over 9,000 border patrol positions in the process.
As far as shutting down the border goes, Bush's plan is ill-conceived, hastily thrown together, and only partially addressing a shortfall he created.
Even worse, his plan fails to include proven, effective, and fair measures to reduce problems stemming from illegal immigration while protecting American workers. The best way to deal with the immigration issue is to undermine incentives that employers have to hire undocmented workers. In the current system, most states and the federal government will not enforce wage rules or safety regulations for undocumented workers, and workers risk deportation for raising concerns. Protecting all workers would increase worker pay, shut down sweatshops, and remove a major reason employers hire undocumented workers--so that they can exploit their illegal status.
The Los Angeles Times has already noted the worthiness of this approach as a way to deal with immigration. Isn't it time we gave it some fair consideration?