Sometimes I wish the president would break his relative silence and weigh in on the illegal immigration issue a bit more.
I’m not referring here to the president of the United States. Like it or not, President Bush has been anything but silent on this matter (at least in recent months, anyway), and his position in the current debate is fairly clear.
I am, however, referring to “El Presidenté,” President Felipe Calderon of Mexico.
If Americans (or anyone else) are to take seriously his many statements from earlier this year about the reform of our nation’s immigration policy, he would do well to clarify and add to those comments — and put those ideas into action, now.
Recall that, for the first time since taking office last December, Calderon hosted Bush on March 13 in Mexico. While speaking from a podium during an official welcoming ceremony for Bush, Calderon had the audacity to chastise our president for signing last year’s border wall bill.
While stating that Mexicans respect America’s right to decide its own security and border policy, Calderon went on to say, “We do consider in a respectful way that it would be better to stop the migration by building a kilometer of highway in Michoacan or Zacatecas than 10 kilometers of walls in the border.” All right. I get it. Calderon knows that Americans choose their own policies, but he thinks we made a bad choice. And I’m OK with him thinking that. Really.
But as Calderon continued with his speech at Bush’s “welcoming ceremony,” he became a bit more personal with his criticism of the president, and the American people.
Recalling that then-Gov. Bush made U.S.-Mexico relations a prominent theme in his 2000 presidential campaign, and lamenting that the terrorist attacks of 2001 took America’s focus away from “immigration reform,” Calderon stated, “I believe that it is now time to retake the spirit of those words and to direct our relationship toward a path of mutual prosperity.”
I suspect Calderon’s rhetoric played very nicely with his own constituency. But let’s take an honest and objective look at how that “path of mutual prosperity” thing is coming together.
As you read this, reports have recently emerged indicating that U.S. Border Patrol agents in Arizona are facing a new and escalating threat, as many of them are being targeted by illegal immigrants who have stooped to using intentionally set fires as a means to “burn agents out” of their observation posts, and to drive the agents from their patrol routes.
This has not only placed greater threats and challenges on the Border Patrol agents themselves, but now, U.S. Forest Service firefighters are increasingly being called to battle these arsons, while the firefighters are required to be escorted by armed law enforcement officers.
Observers note that armed bands of smugglers, of both drugs and human cargo, often walk through the middle of active firefighting operations and head north into Arizona, while U.S. authorities scurry about trying to extinguish the blazes and prevent further damage to the pristine Coronado National Forest.
And it’s not just the national forest regions that have been targeted by arsonists. Two fires earlier this month reportedly broke out near the San Luis border checkpoint as a result of Molotov cocktails, and authorities report that U.S. agents all along the U.S.-Mexico border are increasingly having rocks thrown at them — rocks that are wrapped in rags, dipped in gasoline and set on fire.
If it has not been clear in the past, it is now — the southern border of the United States is most certainly under attack, and it is absolutely being terrorized. And the American people are paying an enormous price for it.
Until this mayhem is confronted honestly by President Bush, it will likely be impossible for our nation to reach consensus on so-called “comprehensive” immigration reform legislation, and the American people will remain more focused on building a border wall.
We can — and indeed we do — debate about how to deal with the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants already in our country. What is fair for the workers? What is good for business owners? What penalty should be paid for entering our nation illegally? All these worthwhile questions are a part of the broad national conversation right now.
But these ever-worsening conditions on America’s southern border are not merely symptomatic of a “disregard” for our laws. They point to an intentional, pro-active effort to undermine our nation, disrupt its affairs, and to do harm to American citizens. It is guerilla warfare, and it is terrorism. And it quite rightly sticks in the craw of the American people.
BEGIN AT THE BORDER
The Bush administration has repeatedly reminded us that we’re “keeping the terrorists on the run,” and “we’re fighting them over there” so as to keep the homeland free and safe.
If Bush is serious about fighting terrorism and about “comprehensive” immigration reform, he would do well to quit ignoring the terrorism at our southern border, and call it for what it is. Until he does this, the American people will continue to feel helpless, cynical and bitter about “guest worker programs” and “a pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants.
And as for Calderon — I’d like to hear him break his silence about the assaults on my fellow Americans, and tell us how he’s going to put an end to them. He can begin by pledging cooperation with United States law enforcement, rather than wagging his finger at my president.
And perhaps he could tell us about how he’s going to get his own house in order — before he demands that more of his countrymen become guests in ours.
Austin Hill of Gilbert hosts a talk show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on KKNT (960 AM), and is co-author of “White House Confidential: The Little Book of Weird Presidential History.” He is also an editorialist for the national news and commentary site Townhall.com. Contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.