Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez gave a speech yesterday at the Latino Leaders Luncheon , which included comments on the Bush Administration's Secure Borders Initiative (SBI) against illegal aliens.
In that context, as I did yesterday for Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff's SBI speech, I've excerpted some of Gonzalez' remarks for commentary:
I am Hispanic. I am Latino. I love my family; I believe in God; and I am grateful for my country, the United States of America, which has allowed me to live the American dream.
That American dream is the reason so many immigrants - millions every year - come to this country in search of a better life for their families.
Millions of immigrants come to this country every year to pursue the American dream? Not according to the DHS, not even close.
According to the DHS September 2005 pdf, Mapping trends in U.S. Legal Immigration, 1980 to 2003 , the this country issued 6,246,921 green cards from 1980 to 1989, 9,315,744 from 1990 to 1999, and 3,667,847 from 2000 to 2003. Green cards indicate Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) status. Only LPRs can be considered immigrants. That's a total of 19,230,512 immigrants over a 24 year period, for an average of just over 800,000 per year. Even the most recent four years, 2000 to 2003, amount to an average of about 917,000 immigrants per year.
The DHS figures affirm America's tradition of welcoming new immigrants to our great nation, but there are simply not millions of immigrants coming to this country every year, unless Attorney General Gonzalez is counting illegal aliens. To do so, however, belies the idea promoted by the Bush Administration that illegals entering any "temporary worker" amnesty would be temporary; immigrants (LPRs) are permanent by definition.
Recently, the President reiterated his vision for a comprehensive immigration reform program. The President outlined a number of steps to strengthen security along our borders and to provide legal options for people who want to
stay in the United States to work temporarily.
When Gonzalez says "people who want to stay in the United States," he is referring to people who are already here but are without a legal option to work "temporarily." They could be foreign nationals here as students, tourists, or illegals.
I am a product - like virtually all of you - of the immigrant dream, so I understand how important it can be for people looking to provide for their families. The President understands that too. He knows, "Family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River."
Yeah, the President uses that Rio Grande line that a lot. Just last month, while signing the Homeland Security Appropriations Act, :
As a result of the bill I'm about to sign, we're going to add nearly 2,000 new beds to our detention facilities. That will bring the number of beds up to nearly 20,000. This will allow us to hold more non-Mexican illegal immigrants while we process them through a program we call "expedited removal." Putting more of these non-Mexican illegal immigrants through expedited removal is crucial to ending the problem of catch-and-release. As Secretary Chertoff told the Senate earlier this morning, our goal is clear: to return every single illegal entrant, with no exceptions. And this bill gets us on the way to do that.
You see, we got people sneaking into our country to work. They want to provide for their families. Family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River. People are coming to put food on the table. But because there is no legal way for them to do so, through a temporary worker program, they're putting pressure on our border.
Note the illegal alien context of the President's Rio Grande/family values schtick, as well as the President's emphasis (also by Chertoff that day) on the expedited removal of non-Mexican illegals.
Do non-Mexican family values stop at the Rio Grande, Mr. President? Mr. Chertoff?
But the President and I both are from Texas, and we know that the security of our citizens depends, in part, on our ability to control the border. With a
temporary worker program, fewer people will try to sneak in illegally to work and that means our enforcement efforts can focus on catching drug smugglers, terrorists, and gunrunners.
Today, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is announcing a new Secure Borders Initiative. In fact, he's making the announcement right now in my hometown of Houston.
The Secure Borders Initiative is going to increase our ability to gain what Secretary Chertoff calls "operational control" on our borders. This new
program - which provides additional resources and technologies at our borders - will make our country safer from the threat of terrorism.
The Secure Border Initiative will also work hand in hand with a temporary worker program - again, with the goal of curbing illegal criminal activity and clearing a path for legal work in the United States.
Thus far there is no indication that the SBI would enforce the removal of illegals in the American interior who've violated immigration laws, worked illegally, and in many cases committed document fraud and filed perjurious IRS forms. Both President Bush and DHS Secretary Chertoff have emphasized the repatriation of illegal alien "entrants" apprehended "at the border" and"criminal aliens" convicted of offenses other than violations of immigration law.
Phyllis Schlafly points out:
Both in signing the giant Homeland Security spending bill and his Saturday radio broadcast, Bush, for the first time, gave us some tough talk about getting "control of our borders." But tucked at the end of his border-security rhetoric was a renewed demand that we offer U.S. jobs to "willing workers from foreign countries." The most accurate way to describe his salestalk is bait-and-switch.
The past context of the President's "willing worker" rhetoric has always been with the understanding that illegal aliens who've taken illegal employment would be welcomed into the pool of "willing workers." Contrary to Bushian rhetoric, these illegals would definitely be rewarded with legalization by virtue of their having taken cuts ahead of law-abiding "willing workers" and finding their "willing employers" when it was illegal to do so, and that's amnesty.