Amnesty: It's Alive!
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All of a sudden, it looks like President Bush's plan for granting amnesty to 3 million illegal aliens from Mexico is about to come a bit of a cropper. Then again, just because the word "amnesty" has vanished from the administration's vocabulary doesn't mean the plan is not still on track. Americans who would like to keep the country their forefathers created and left them are well-advised to stay on guard.

Indeed, the administration may be pushing the amnesty proposal even further than it originally planned. The idea first popped up when Secretary of State Colin Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft unbosomed their recommendation that some 3 million Mexicans in this country illegally be allowed to apply for permanent residency. That, call it what you will, is amnesty.

But it didn't go far enough for Mr. Bush's advisers in the Democratic Party. Immediately smelling the political rat in the Powell-Ashcroft-Bush plan, that the administration was trying to snatch the Hispanic vote out of the Democrats' basket, the Democrats simply outflanked the president. The president's plan, they announced, clearly discriminates against the millions of illegal aliens here from other countries besides Mexico. Why confine amnesty to aliens of one nation? Why not grant amnesty to every illegal alien in the country?

Well, why not indeed? By the weekend, that's exactly what the president was promising to consider. "We'll consider all folks here," he told the press when asked if his amnesty plan was being expanded to include immigrants from other countries.

But, you see, it's still not an amnesty, according to the president himself, who also told the press, "A word was creeping in the vernacular about this issue, called amnesty. I oppose blanket amnesty. The American people need to know that." (New York Times, July 27, 2001, "Bush Says Plan for Immigrants Could Expand")

Well, you bet your blankets they do. But they also need to know that whatever euphemism Mr. Bush and his spinmeisters coin for what they're planning, amnesty is what it will be—for 3 million Mexicans illegals originally discussed, for the 6 million Mexican illegals who are here, or for the 9 to 11 million total number of illegal aliens who are now believed to be here. The word "amnesty" was regularly used throughout the last several months of discussions with Mexico and in the press. Not until the administration stated floating it to Congress and the Republicans in the last couple of weeks—and watching it sink—did anyone stop using the word.

The current alternatives to the A-word include "guest-worker program," "regularization" and "earned adjustment." But most of them still involve the essence of amnesty—that people who broke the law will be formally absolved from any penalties for doing so—and all would also imply the consequences of amnesty—that millions of people who are not and should not be eligible to immigrate to this country will be allowed to do so.

The most intriguing euphemism now being used is "guest-worker program." In fact there used to be a real guest-worker plan known as the Bracero program. It existed from the 1940s to the 1960s and allowed Mexicans to live and work inside the United States temporarily as agricultural laborers. It allowed employers who needed the workers to get their cheap labor and the workers themselves to earn a lot more money than they could in Mexico, and it spared the American people the burden that masses of unskilled labor would represent had they come here permanently.

There's no reason a similar program could not be worked out today—except that's not really what either this administration or the Mexican government wants. What this administration wants is votes. Guest workers don't vote, so they're largely useless as a new electorate.

What the Mexican government wants—it's becoming more and more transparent—is simply the recolonization of a large part of U.S. territory by its own citizens, with the eventual goal of re-conquering the area that Mexicans are convinced we stole from them in the Mexican-American War. Guest-workers don't really help for that purpose either, whereas legalized illegal aliens would be able to vote in both U.S. and Mexican elections and thereby constitute a fifth column par excellence.

A real guest worker program, with checks on the "guests" so they leave when they're supposed to and a legal exception whereby their offspring don't automatically become U.S. citizens might be a good idea for a government unwilling and unable to enforce its own laws against illegal immigration. But it won't be done. What probably will be done is—dare I say the word?—amnesty, whatever the figleaf and feel-good under which it's disguised. As I told you earlier, Americans who would like to keep the country their forefathers created and left them are well-advised to stay on guard.


August 2, 2001

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