The Strange Case of Immigration Politics; Politicians Disregard the Will of the People

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 14, 2004 | Go to article overview
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The Strange Case of Immigration Politics; Politicians Disregard the Will of the People


Byline: Tony Blankley, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

President Bush's recent, lamentable proposals on illegal immigrants highlight, yet again, that both the Republican and Democratic Parties heed neither public opinion nor their primary governing responsibility to defend and protect the United States, as it relates to illegal immigration.

Decades of public polling by the most respectable news and polling organizations have invariably disclosed that, although the numbers have moved up and down within a small range, solid majorities of the American public want our borders secured, illegal immigrants tracked down and even legal immigration reduced in volume. Over the last decade, according to a Wall St. Journal/ NBC poll, 52 percent of Americans favor a five-year ban on all legal and illegal immigration; a Time/CNN poll disclosed 80 percent want the federal government to track down illegal aliens; a CBS/New York Times poll in 1995 revealed less immigration wanted by 66 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Independents.

Last year's New York Times/CBS poll shows those number down slightly, to 55 percent wanting a decrease, 35 percent wanting no change and only 7 percent wanting more immigrants. In 1994, California's Proposition 187 (which cut off social services to illegals) passed by 59 percent. Last fall, during the recall election in California, polling showed it was still supported by more than 55 percent of the public - with neither of the major candidates even advocating it.

Over those past two decades neither Congress nor the White House - whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats - has even proposed, let alone implemented, a program seriously designed to gain those ends. As a result, Mr. Bush is left with the feeble and futile proposals that he announced last week.

It would seem to be ridiculously obvious that any effort to contain and manage the existing illegal population will be futile, so long as we cannot substantially control the flow of new illegals into the country. There must be at least 2 billion or 3 billion people around the globe who would rather live and work in America than where cruel fate has deposited them.

I might agree with the president's proposals if they followed, rather than preceded, a failed Herculean, decades-long national effort to secure our borders. If, after such an effort, it was apparent that we simply could not control our borders, then, as a practical man I would try to make the best of a bad situation. But such an effort has not yet been made. And why it has not been made reveals a singular failing of the American political system.

Given how closely presidential elections are contested in the United States, it is rare for neither of the political parties to champion such a major issue, supported by such a solid majority over such a sustained period.

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