The Tar Pit

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Hugh Hewitt getting schooled in Illegal Alien discussion

In the past couple of weeks Hugh Hewitt has been very generous in giving me opportunities on his radio show to correct his misunderstandings regarding President Bush's "guest worker" proposal. I first called on this subject on December 13th, specifically about Hillary Clinton's declaration that she is "you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants."

While discussing with Hugh the risks to the GOP that might arise from Senator Clinton's obvious attempt to triangulate to the right of the President, I took the opportunity to contrast the Bush plan to the superior guest worker program contained within HR 3534, Congressman Tom Tancredo's BE REAL Act. It became clear, though, that Hugh was under the mistaken impression that the President's plan had nothing to do with illegal aliens. I explained that while that is true of the Tancredo guest worker plan, the Bush plan would very generously reward millions of illegal aliens with legalization as guest workers by virtue of the jobs they currently hold illegally.

Hugh remained uncertain, but it appears that President Bush had listened keenly to the exchange because in his December 20th press conference he took a little time to help me set Hugh straight:

"Now let me talk about the immigration issue. First, we want our border patrol agents chasing crooks and thieves and drug runners and terrorists, not good-hearted people who are coming here to work. And therefore, it makes sense to allow the good-hearted people who are coming here to do jobs that Americans won't do a legal way to do so. And providing that legal avenue, it takes the pressure off the border."
President Holds Press Conference
December 20th, 2004 | Dwight DC Eisenhower Executive Office Building

Thanks Mr. President!

When Hugh replayed President Bush's comments later that afternoon, I did what any detached observer of the human condition, conservative talk radio, and the blogosphere would do: I called in to gloat.

Hugh surprised me. When I told him that there was no difference between legalization and regularization, he said that President Bush's guest worker program wasn't a legalization of illegal aliens, because they could "never become a citizen, never." When I assured him that illegal aliens most certainly could become citizens under the Bush plan, Hugh replied again "no it's bracero, they will never become citizens."

President Bush's Citizenship Path for Illegal Aliens
December 21, 2004 | The Tar Pit

Though the President had clearly said he wants to allow illegal aliens "who are coming here to do jobs that Americans won't do a legal way to do so," Christmas was coming and he couldn't be expected to jump into the fray again for Hugh's sake. Fortunately, Michelle Malkin and Puddle Pirate over at Brain Shavings stepped up and soon noted that Hugh was incorrect, that illegal aliens would indeed be eligible for eventual citizenship under the Bush plan, exactly as I had explained.

Since that's established, let's clarify Hugh's other misunderstanding that there might be some distinction between legalizing and regularizing illegal aliens, and that "legalizing" illegals necessarily entailed some path to citizenship.

Illegal aliens are classified as such because they are on American soil and they are in illegal status. Common sense would suggest that any change of an illegal alien's status while on American soil must require some form of legalization. Even President Bush spoke of making a "legal way" for illegal aliens to work in America. Of course, common sense and government policy don't always go together like chocolate and peanut butter, so Mr. Hewitt can hardly be faulted for ignoring common sense when coming to his conclusions.

SI 00501.440 Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986


The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) (Public Law 99-603) amended and repealed sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The IRCA provides for the legalization of illegal aliens who meet certain requirements and updates the registry date which allows INS to process certain illegal aliens differently.


Aliens granted LTR [lawful temporary residence] status may apply for lawfully admitted permanent resident (LAPR) status within the 1-year period beginning with the nineteenth month that begins after the date LTR status is granted.


1. Legalization

The process of adjusting the status of certain aliens to that of lawful temporary residents.

One has to feel for Hugh, to be let down by his own government like that.

"Regularization" and "normalization" of illegal aliens are euphemisms for changing "status," which is a euphemism for legalizing illegal aliens.

To recap:

1. The President's "guest worker" plan would include illegal aliens.
2. The President's "guest worker" plan puts illegal aliens on a path to citizenship.
3. Any change of an illegal alien's status that doesn't involve deportation is legalization.

The score so far, early in the first quarter:

Pac Ten 21
Big Ten   0

We'll be back after a commercial break.

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As we rejoin the action, let's replay Hugh Hewitt's position when I asked him if he would be able to support the President's "guest worker" program if it allowed legalized illegal aliens access to citizenship:

"I won't like the program."