Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Splitting the Difference

It sounds like nobody’s really thrilled with the president’s solutions to the immigration issue.

President Bush proposed a plan on Monday that could place up to 6,000 National Guard troops along the border with Mexico for at least a year, but he urged Congress to address illegal immigration in a way that maintains the nation’s tradition of openness.

Stepping directly into the middle of a debate raging within his own party and in cities and towns across the country, Mr. Bush offered a menu of proposals on the issue, which has rapidly emerged as among the most challenging confronting Congress and the White House.


White House officials said in a briefing for reporters Monday afternoon that the president was calling for $1.9 billion included in a supplemental budget bill now before Congress to be used for his proposals.

Some of the border state governors, Democrats in Congress, and others immediately raised questions about the practicality of the plan. Mr. Bush’s broad approach also drew tepid reviews from some House Republicans and conservatives, whose support he will need as he grapples with a problem that has defied decades of proposed solutions: the continued economic imbalances between the United States and its trading partners to the south.

The reactions underscored the slender line the president is trying to walk between not only Democrats and warring members of his own party who are trying to hammer out legislation, but also between the increasingly powerful Hispanic voters he hopes to recruit to his party and the conservatives who still form its base.


Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, who has been deeply involved in the Senate negotiations on immigration, praised Mr. Bush “for his courage,” but said he was worried the National Guard was already spread too thin.

But among the most important voices will be those of the governors of the four states abutting the southern border: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. It falls to them to make the plan for deploying the guard work.

Administration officials said governors would have to ask for the Guard troops, and are free to decline them. And, officials said governors would often have to ask for National Guard troops from fellow governors in nonborder states, who could also say no.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican, called the plan a “Band-Aid solution” in a statement Monday night and complained that he had not been fully consulted.

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Democrat, said the plan fell short. “The president is putting the onus on border governors to work out the details and resolve the problems with this plan,” Mr. Richardson said in a statement.

The last time the president tried to nationalize a problem that effected a region was after Hurricane Katrina. We got a lot of talk about the administration doing everything it could to rebuild the Gulf Coast and restore it to better than it was before. However, judging by how things are in New Orleans, I can understand the skepticism of people on both sides of the debate who thinks that in the end, nothing much is going to be accomplished. Also, Mr. Bush, by pissing off the hard right (as in the folks at World Net Daily who suggest a final solution worthy of You Know Who), is picking a fight with the people he’ll need the most in the mid-terms. Buena suerte, vato.

There is an interesting aspect to deploying the National Guard as pointed out by Josh Marshall’s reader JB:

“The White House is now saying the troops would only be temporary. But temporary until when? I guess just until there aren’t any more illegals trying to come across the border from Latin America.”

In other words, you’re suggesting the White House doesn’t have an exit strategy from getting the troops out of … our own country?

Yeah, pretty much.