By Tommy Ates
When war away has us stumped, there is nothing better than the war at home.
This is the fight House Republicans are waging as they set to drive a tough border security bill through the House, that will likely face stiff resistance in the Senate, from Democrats and many moderate Republicans.
The new bill (if passed by the Senate and signed by President Bush) would criminalize the more than 10 million illegal immigrants, and the Americans who assist, keep, or give support, as well as provide transportation.
Some might say that (by definition) illegal aliens are criminal. Wouldn't the bill create an oxymoron?
Actually, no. Illegals currently break only civil immigration law, not the criminal code, which is why these "unofficial citizens" can still go to work and largely create the foundation of today's U.S. economy.
Yet, according to House Republicans (in this bill), they deserve no respect.
Isn't that an oxymoron?
Yes, it is true the U.S. border is woefully under funded and protected; but, more manpower, holding cells, and upgraded weapons won't turn the tide. What no politician or diplomat will admit is this Central American northern migration is caused by globalization ( i.e., border matricudoras) creating more trade, technological efficiencies, while, in the second and third world, monopolization of goods and services by wealthy countries (US/ Japan) occurs, increasing country deficits, inflation, and cost of goods and services.
No one will argue that life is better here and the 'life support' of business (and society) in much of the southern United States from California to Florida depends on their labor.
The current legislation in the House is typical pre-election year fodder for a campaign stump speech: protectionist, yet "pro-business" at the same time, making everyone who is involved in illegal immigration, or assists in the welfare of, a criminal felon (including charity workers, private social services).
All, but the very source of the "problem"--the employer.
Business gets an 'undefined' tougher penalty, but, surely nothing that would slow down worker productivity (and the ability of hiring more cheap labor). That's un-American.
Such a glaring political maneuvers displays the pandering of worried House Republicans (particularly from the West and South) to balance big-business' bottom-line and their middle-class base heading towards the 2006 mid-terms.
After all, this Republican-led Congress has done little for homeland-security reform, besides the Air Marshall program and more airport pat-down searches. Real homeland security begins and ends with the U.S. border which is (in opposition to America's self-notion as a "secure fortress") tenuously porous along both the Mexican and Canadian lines.
And we know what current public opinion is of Iraq.
In Congress, both Democrats and Republicans abusing taxpayer dollars and devising legislation which would never become law is not a novel concept [the draft], neither would be the inflation of a foreign threat upon which the intelligence was later admitted as "wrong" [ Iraq]. However criminalizing an entire group of people for sake of political advantage is a very risky proposition for any congressional leadership (Senator Bill Frist, acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt, Speaker of the House Rep. Dennis Hastert, et. al), particularly one in the midst of scandal.
As a result, the Republican Party may maintain its conservative base, but it may be at the cost of the moderate majority.
Already there exists deep disappointment with the Bush administration's handling of Iraq, the nation's ballooning deficit and the federal government's ever-larger payroll (even excluding homeland security).
And where is the money going to come for this aggressive border program?
With a Republican compromise for new round of tax cuts (for the top 1% percent) and Alternative Minimum Tax (benefiting the upper middle-class) looming, the answer for border security will surely come out of the pockets of the middle-class and those citizens who least afford more than their fair share of taxes.
In Washington, history has shown that the party in power whose political reality differs markedly from its stated platform tends to soon capitulate, leading to a more balanced policy and greater government efficiency with taxpayer dollars.
For the mid-terms, campaigning House Republicans would gain better traction if they pursued new trade-agreements which encouraged the growth of local economies in Central America, with limited American economic penetration.
Big business may get fewer profits now, but stronger economies of scale would provide for more long-term growth later.
But, hey, why think of sensible solutions when you can allude to terror (and get re-elected).
What about "Compassion Conservatism"?
These days Republicans are playing *Survivor*.
Tommy Ates is a syndicated columnist based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Tommy Ates has appeared in several publications, such as The Chicago Tribune, The Houston Chronicle, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Wichita Eagle, and The Macon Telegraph, among others . Please consult contact information on column release dates and/ or pricing.
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