The immigration debate: room for middle ground?

Posted by: ST on May 17, 2006 at 2:50 pm

I’ve not commented a great deal about the President’s speech on immigration because I’ve learned from last year’s experience over the Harriet Miers brouhaha and this year’s experience over the UAE port deal that sometimes you have to step back and take a breather before commenting on certain hot button issues. I was as frustrated as many conservatives were after reading/hearing the speech, but wanted to reserve further comment until I’d had the chance to read what others were saying about it.

While the debate over illegal immigration rages on, there are two great posts up today about trying to find middle ground on the issue – the first comes from Lorie Byrd, who posts an excerpt from her guest column at, and Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse – I recommend you read them both, and if you’re one of those who thinks W failed miserably with his speech on Monday, perhaps you’ll see it in a different light once you read them.

There are no quick and easy solutions for the problem. It’s gone on for far too long and the administration, unfortunately, has done little about it even in the aftermath of 9-11. I think the admin is making a good faith effort at this point to try and come up with a solution that is good for this country, but the Prez not going to please everyone on every detail.

I’m with John Podhoretz at NRO on this one:

As for dealing with the illegals already here, there’s a sense in which this debate has been radicalized to such an extent that the Right won’t be satisfied with a policy that does not explicitly advocate expulsion — all other policies being dubbed “amnesty” and therefore illegitimate — while the Left refuses to consider any policy other than special-treatment affirmative-action line-jumping legalization. In other words, there is nothing our politicians can do, absolutely nothing, to satisfy the activists — because neither extreme will be reflected in any kind of law or policy that emerges even from a Washington energized to deal with them.

If a more sober reckoning of political reality does not intrude here, the Right will hurtle headlong toward schism, division, a third party and all sorts of other “pox on all your houses” actions. The cost of this is what I detail in the direst parts of my book Can She Be Stopped? — the easy transfer of power on Capitol Hill and the White House to the Democrats, and particularly to Hillary Clinton.

It’s doubtful the policies she will follow as president on immigration will please anyone on the Right. It’s certain that the policies she will follow on courts, on social issues, on foreign policy, on taxes, on regulation and on almost everything else you can think of will be deeply displeasing to people on the Right. And then, as a result of the pursuit of an impossible policy of purity on immigration, the country and the world will suffer the consequences.

The potential for self-destruction is terrifying. The potential for grave national harm is worse. Please, you guys, pull back from the edge.

He’s right. We’ve got a better chance of getting something done with a GOP Congress and president than we do with a Democratic congress and potential future liberal president. We can’t and should not destroy ourselves with the ‘all or nothing’ demands people have placed on the admin to resolve the issue. It’s not going to be resolved overnight and it’s certainly not going to be resolved with a Democratic Congress and president.

Just a little food for thought.

Sidenote: If you don’t already have Lorie Byrd’s blog bookmarked and/or blogrolled, please consider doing it now. She’s no longer guest blogging at Polipundit (nor are the other people who were guest blogging there). Here’s why:

The fact is that I believe this is the last time I will be blogging at Polipundit.

I received a lengthy email from Polipundit tonight alerting us to an editorial policy change that included the following: “From now on, every blogger at will either agree with me completely on the immigration issue, or not blog at” I would provide additional context, but Polipundit has asked that the contents of our emails not be disclosed publicly and I think that is a fair request. There has been plenty written in the posts over the past week alone to let readers figure out what happened. Polipundit ended a later email with this: “It’s over. The group-blogging experiment was nice while it lasted, but we have different priorities now. It’s time to go our own separate ways.”

I posted that for two reasons, and not to get in the middle of the dispute Polipundit’s guest bloggers are having with him. The two reasons are: 1) to notify people who are fans (of which I am one) of Lorie’s writing where she will be blogging now so they can update their bookmarks/blogrolls and 2) to show how deeply the issue of illegal immigation is dividing conservatives.

For more on the conservative blogosphere’s reaction to the President’s proposals on immigration, check out the followig blogs: Anchoress, All Things Beautiful, AJ Strata, Varifrank, Dafydd at Big Lizards

More: Tony Blankley writes about ‘The price of secure borders

Update I: A victory for conservatives and America – the Senate votes in favor of a border fence (hat tip: Stop The ACLU)

Related Toldjah So posts:

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  • Martin's Musings trackbacked with Senate Approves Border Fence
  • 30 Responses to “The immigration debate: room for middle ground?”


    1. – Sorry ST. I’m not buying it. I’ve just spent too many years watching a waffling pile of politicos from both sides of the asile, trying every angle to side track this issue with endless discussions that seem to want to characterize everything as sooooo hopelessly complex.

      – Yes there are serious complex issues. The list goes on and on. But the very first area, that of securing the borders, is not inter-dependent of all the manifest arguments back and forth of what to do about illegals already here.

      – The very fact that All of the Washingtonites are laboring so hard to push it into that arena, and keep it there by intentional red flag waving tells me just what the agenda is here. Sadly its going to be years more of slow rolling while more and more come across in a frantic effort to beat some imagined deadline.

      – Almost every politician with few exceptions, Bush included, is being dis-ingenuous on this issue. I can’t prove it of course. I have no way to do it. But if there was a poll that asked everyone in america:

      “Do you feel that really taking dynamic steps to actually secure the border would be a the first thing to do before we get into all the other issues”

      – You’d probably get at least a 75 to 80% support….maybe more.

      – The mixing of all the issues is a simple political ploy, as I said, to foot drag the process on the one hand, and both parties trying to hang on to some portion of the hispanic vote, while throwing a bone to Americans.

      – Saying that most Americans do not think Bush went nearly far enough, or that no matter what he did no one would be happy is a cop out.

      – I think if Bush would have simply said….”We’re going to build a full length border protection fence with a nuetral zone, and man it with full NG until the border patrol can be beefed up with enough people to deal with it effectively, the vast majority of Americans would be very satisfied with that as a first step.

      – With the pressure off in the form of waves of illegals streaming across the border, all the other issues could be decided in an atmosphere of calm. Thats my take.

      – Bang **==

    2. Baklava says:

      That vote is a good start. But Bang if you really want clarity on the problem look at the debate comments on the Senate Floor:

      Good fences make good neighbors, fences don’t make bad neighbors,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. He said border areas where barriers already exist have experienced economic improvement and reduced crime.

      “What we have here has become a symbol for the right wing in American politics,” countered Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. He said if the proposal passed, “our relationship with Mexico would come down to a barrier between our two countries.”

      It is plain as day to see that Sessions had unifying kind of rhetoric and Dick Durbin had divisive rhetoric. To me any American with a 12th grade reading comprehension ability should see the divisiveness by the American leftists on this illegal immigrant issue. THe border needs to be secured as so many Islamic militants have come that way. There is NO reason why National Security should be sacrificed so that rule breakers can cost state and local governments and hospitals their lives.

      I for one AM happy to see the issue being tackled by Bush finally. It’s a start and I WILL not be bashing it. Ending Catch and release. Increasing security and increasing penalties and increasing fence construction. They are all CONCRETE and important steps.

      So much time has gone on on this issue that I’ve probably written 10,000 words on this issue over the last decade as I’m sure you have Bang. Wouldn’t it be nice to argue from a different standpoint? Let’s get us from point a to C or D and then argue for getting us to Point M, N or O. Republicans will be recognized as having been part of the solution for what 80% of Americans want.

    3. – Bak, the Liberals have been basically hiding under their desks during most of it so far. They want no border enforcement. Border enforcement, and the implied need for it would go to support the idea we’re in a real WOT. we all know where they stand on that. Besides they want to curry the favor of the hispanic vote even worse than the GOP. So what they’re hoping to do is make this “fix” process be labeled primarily a Conservative action. Whenever you want to know what the Democrats are up to just remember “Party first, and the hell with america”, and you can’t go wrong.

      – Bang **==

    4. CB Howell says:

      Bak check out my response on the other thread…

    5. Baklava says:

      I disagree with the fact that they’ve been hiding. They are actively demagoguing calling us racist and stoking up the fires by showing up to marches, etc.

    6. Hey,

      Um, that’s John Podhoretz, not Andy McCarthy, Mr. McCarthy would say the exact same thing I would. Mass deportation is a complete canard for the ignorant. We were handed a stinking pile of comprehensive reform in 86, how’d that work out, the amnesty to end all amnesties, except, oops, were having another amnesty.

      Details count ma’am, I blog this issue, the president has been beyond bad on this issue. I voted for him twice, after his embarrasing speech the other night, not embarrasing because of his position, I would respect him if we would state his position, embarrasing because he’s made his position perfectly clear and folks refuse to listen to what he’s been saying and doing for five years.

      Everything were facing today comes with a history, the history on this is very, very bad.

    7. blogagog says:

      I’m not up on the bill passed by the Senate, but when I read

      Most controversially, it offers an eventual chance at citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country. Senate Republicans staged an impromptu, occasionally emotional debate over whether that amounted to amnesty.

      I have trouble calling it “A victory for conservatives and America” as you did ST. A phyrric victory, perhaps? As soon as the illegals here are given amnesty (‘amnesty’=’not sent home’ in my vocabulary) the message will be out that the key to citizenship in America is… sneak in, and sooner or later we’ll give up and make you a citizen.

      I’m really disgusted with the lack of backbone of my party. Unfortunately, Both my Senator and Representative are doing the right thing (Vitter and Rodney Alexander), so I can’t even vote them away! Conservatives in other parts of America will have to fix this.

    8. “Um, that’s John Podhoretz, not Andy McCarthy,”

      Um, thanks for the correction, Jake. I think.

    9. CavalierX says:

      >I’m not up on the bill passed by the Senate

      Just think of it as “No Mexican Left Behind.”

    10. Whitehall says:

      I’ve been a very loyal supporter of Mr. Bush. I’ve told family, friends, colleagues that he’d go down as one of our greatest presidents.

      His speeches in the past have been sincere and honest and believable. But his speech Monday sure popped my bubble! In this one, he was trying to snow us. He doesn’t believe in stopping immigration – his border control measures are tokenisms, no straight talk about employer sanctions (just the weasel word “accountable”), strawman arguments about mass deportations. He stooped too low and has broken my trust in his leadership.

      A friend said it best – this battle is the political class against the American people. That’s why we have to teach both parties that they are blocking the will of the people and that removal from office is the ultimate penalty.

    11. saus says:

      Worth the wait.

    12. Baklava says:

      Whitehall wrote, “He doesn’t believe in stopping immigration

      #1 rule of debate. You can’t say what OTHER people believe in.

      Secondly, the issue isn’t immigration it’s illegal immigration. To which Bush did propose things that would be MORE than what Congress, and the past administrations have offered.

      I SAY TAKE THE ACTION. Let’s Roll Congress !

    13. CavalierX says:

      >I SAY TAKE THE ACTION. Let’s Roll Congress !

      Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Not all Republican Senators have gone over to the open borders, amnesty and citizenship for criminals camp. And the House Republicans are — so far — holding the line. They’re our only hope. The thing to do is work to remove those who vote for amnesty during the primaries, replacing them with more Conservative candidates. Letting Democrats take over the government would be far worse.

    14. Scenario: Lets say one fine night Mr. al Qaeda slips a cell of one of its teams up through the border, along with the estimated 7-10 thousand coming across daily, in the Mexican pipeline.

      – The unthinkable happens, and they manage to perform a criminal/murdering terrorist act that eclipes 9/11 by a lot. say 50,000 dead with 5 times that many injured in some major metropolitan center at the height of rush hour, or the same through some sort of wide spread sabotage of some sort. Think of it as Katrina times 50.

      – With that back drop, something that most security people say is not an “if” but a “when”, reconsider the actions of our Congress and our administration, Bush at its head.

      – Now how do you see things.

      – When Bush insisted that all of the issues HAD to be tied to border control last night, I just got up and walked out of the room to calm down.

      – Billions for homeland defense, but Washington actually argues seemingly smooth logical reasons to explain why we have no right to secure our own borders. Its Lunacy. Pure unadulterated Lunacy.

      – For some reason, I’m not thinking about “voting issues” right now, or who is going to jump ship, or who is supporting who, yada yada yada.

      – As an electorate folks we’re being “handled”.

      – Bang **==

    15. CB Howell says:

      AMEN brother Bang! It’s nice to see others finally recognizing that these folks are a bunch a used car salesmen!

    16. CB Howell says:

      (in the proverbial sense…so offense to any used car salesmen out there…)

    17. – We have done everything asked of us as a people in the WOT. Followed our Leader right down the line. Met the enemy “There” instead of “here”

      – Almost 1 trillion spent.
      – 2400? military dead.
      – 15,000+ wounded.
      – Two countries reformed in a fashion

      – All of it, for all the good and right reasons.

      – Now we’re told that defense of our own borders is somehow such a complex issue, and must be joined at the hip with immigration issues that could rage on for years, and that for all sorts of “good reasons” we can fight a war half a world away, but we dare not secure our own homeland.

      – Whats wrong with this picture?

      – Bang **==

    18. blogagog says:

      I’m also not buyin’ it. I’m still under the impression that the blogosphere played a major role in replacing Miers with Alito. I lodged my complaint against her, as many of us did. We ended up getting Alito. We all agree that this was a good thing, right?

      This is too important to just ‘join the rank and file’, much like it was too important to let Miers become a justice in the SCOTUS. Secure the border, with no strings tied to it. We can discuss amnesty at some later date. Secure the friggin’ border first!

      The Senate deal is a sell-out. We will build a little part of the fence, if we agree to let 11 million criminals become Americans. No.

      No. No. No. No. If you want to be a citizen of the USA, go home, and ask us. We may oblige you. We may not. It’s our choice, not yours. The entitlement generation seems to have grown to beyond our borders. Foreigners now feel entitled to become Americans. That someone is demanding, as a right(!) to live in my country is wholly unacceptable to me. Pardon my french, but WTF!

      I’m begging all Republicans to vote for the non-incumbent in the primary. This is not a complicated issue. Shut the freakin’ border. End of story. If your Senator is not interested in doing that, replace him. With a better Republican hopefully, but replace him no matter what. Heck mayby the new guy will be for drilling in ANWR. Kill two birds with one stone.

      Rant over.

    19. sanity says:

      It just boggles the mind on how lax Congress and the president seems to be with this issue.

      I would really hope they take a peek at their polling data because this is a VERY hot issue with many people, and they aren’t going to drop it for simple platitudes. We want real reform on immigration and border security.

      Bang you hit the nail on the head.

      It is more than just immigration, and we have already caught terrorists coming across the Mexican border, it just never got much press. I wonder why…

      Because if it got air time, then people would be even more adamant about protecting our borders if they knew just who has been caught crossing them.

      As for illegal aliens, they try and play on our emotions in dealing with this issue, they have a bad life, if we do this they will take more difficult route and die in the desert or drown..ect. When will people learn we cannot be responsible for other peoples behaviour. If there are people who for their own reasons decide to take a difficult route or pay someone to squeeze them into a dashboard or other hidden way, to enter into the US illegally – how does that become our problem?

      If you decide to hit yourself in the head with a hammer, should I blame myself for your actions?

      We have a legal means of entering the US with immigration. The American people do not have a problem with LEGAL immigration and we welcome that, what we do have a problem with is illegally entering and taking that which does not belong to you, (services, ect) and expect to be taken care of (look at data on how many are on welfare compared to working).

      You also have to look at unchecked illegal aliens entering the US illegally will also bring in Diseases that will not be caught because if they would have come in the legal way, they ould have had medical screening which may catch and be able to treat certain diseases that would be detrimental to our population. All it takes is one person coming across with a disease that could infect many and start an epidemic.

      We have a legal means of entering into the US, it should be followed. Those who wish to bypass that process and come into the US illegally should be caught and deported immediately, if they come back illegally again they should be jailed, say with our friend Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County and left to eat bologna sandwiches and live in tents in 110 – 120 degree temps.

      Also I think they are wrong when they say that this isue cannot be broken into parts. We should be able to protect our borders and stem the flow or stop the flow of illegal aliens coming in before we decide what to actually do with those that are here already. I do not see why this has to be an issue.

      Border protection means protecting our borders, increase the bordder patrol funding, hell take it out of your War on Terror funds since it goes to protection of Americans. Increase Border Patrol agents, increase the immigration people working on legal immigration so there is not such a backlog, ect.

      There is much we can do, but it all depends on whether we as a nation have the spine to stand up and do it. If not, well, we get what we deserve then.

    20. I guess I have the answer to my question: no.

    21. Baklava says:

      We’ll fight the good fight ST. :)

      I feel as strongly as the next person about illegal immigration and have for years. But I also feel we have a HISTORIC opportunity to get things done positively that may not be done because people want the whole ball of wax.

      I’ll be really happy to see the few things done that the Congress and President are talking about (LET ME REMIND everyone that it wouldn’t be done with the Democrats in control of Congress) because it’s all about perspective.

    22. forest hunter says:

      Votes for the future, presuming there is one for certain politicos and their respective parties, is the only “logical” and what I’d refer to as a lack of reasoning, for continuing to avoid dealing with this issue effectively. No need to point out the obvious facts to all of you.

      Too bad the American taxpayers can’t submit the same letter to our self serving politicians, that the Bank of America sent to the Boy Scouts of America. Naturally, there’s a difference between donations given freely and donations at the pointy end of a gun, but the parallel logic for withholding payment until certain performance requirements are met, is an interesting argument to say the least.

      Wouldn’t it be great if job performance was the main reason a politition or for that matter…….

    23. forest hunter says:

      Stop the flood, deal with flooding and the victims of and from the flood. Oversimplified, but true.

      Yes, I’m aware of the issues for fleeing their self-imploding graft and greed driven country and coming to this despised country.

      We can fastrack legal applicants faster than we can deal with illegal aliens. We can’t reward illegal behavior period, no matter how convenient it seems for the political handwringers, incapable of making choices where fair isn’t an option. Fair was and has been slaughtered, everytime we intentionaly look the other way.

    24. sanity says:

      Why does it have to be all or nothing?

      Why can’t we break this into parts and deal with it that way?

      Protecting our border, means more than just from illegal aliens crossing into this country. It should scare the hell out of Americans that people can come into this country so easily.

      Not only do we have massive amounts of drugs that come in by this means, but if this continues, we will, and i say will, not if, have a terrorsits cell or cells come into this country (if they are not here already) and we will have an attack that is worse than 9/11.

      I don’t know about you, but this goes beyond illegal aliens coming into this country, and has very much to do with increased security of our nation.

      We have all sorts of security for airports and ports, but when it comes to our borders we have people coming in by the millions.

      Does this not bother anyone else that this country is not safe? After all the rhetoric and protecting America speeches, we still have people who come in through our borders illegally.

      Let’s change the scenario a litle bit, lets change Mexicans coming into America illegally to say, Iranians or Pakistanis coming in by this amount, crossing our borders and getting into the US and disappearing….

      Would this not bother anyone else?

      Protecting our borders means just that, it shouldn’t matter what nationality they are. They are still crossing into our borders illegally.

      No I am not pandering to fear, but we think just because they are Mexicans that we should not worry about it, that if we make it hard on them to break our laws by coming in illegally, that we are heartless and uncaring. That all they want to do is work.

      Granted some may want to just work, but then we have those that are a drain on our services, who turn to crime, increase in gang activity, ect.

      Quit trying to play the feel-good politics with illegal activity.

      Should we dismiss illegal activity of say someone using cocaine to relieve pain of cancer?

      How about someone who is homeless who breaks into your home and steals from you? Should we dismiss that because they are not as well off as you?

      We are a nation of laws, and it is time we decide to either enforce those laws or quit making them.

      Otherwise we become a nation of laughable laws that are never enforced, or enforced when felt like it.

      /rant off

    25. Whitehall says:

      I’d like to remind all that this is not just about “illegal” vs. “legal” immigration.


      Congress writes the laws that define the terms. The Senate bill that would let in 100,000,000 to 200,000,000 immigrants over 20 years would make them “legal.”

      Shouldn’t we debate whether or not that is what we want? Too many “legal” immigrants can be be worst for Americans than the current number of illegal aliens. Personally, I see my employer lowering my pay based on legal immigrants. Nice people, but competitors from a foreign country all the same, lowering my paycheck.

      The debate needs to cover the total immigration allowance, not just the past, present, or future illegality.

      As to my earlier posting attempting to read Bush’s mind, I think that his past positions and statements as well as the logical effects of his positions in the speech allows one to form an opinion. He is a man of his convictions. But you’re right – I’ve no proof.

      In any case, it is unlikely that Bush would veto any bill that Congress passes.

    26. CB Howell says:

      “Personally, I see my employer lowering my pay based on legal immigrants. Nice people, but competitors from a foreign country all the same, lowering my paycheck.”

      Once again…why not tax them? If Jose’ or Pierre want to sell their products in the US, they pay a tariff. They are not entitled to the same access to our infrastructure that we as citizens are. Right?

      So why is it just assumed that those who come here (legally or illegally) to sell their product (labor) should not be expected to do the same. Higher taxes offset the disporportionate burden on social entitlements, will provide better funding for border control and ultimately dissuade many from coming in the first place.

      Think about it!

    27. – CB… How the hell do you go about collecting taxes from people that are basically invisable. We don’t know who they are or where they are.

      – I will be very very surprised if this good idea of a tamper proof ID card ever actually gets implemented. Why?. Because like everything else connected with the immigration issue, it would show the public that the 11 million number is a joke. If the public knew how many illegals there were in the country, there would be an unbelievable backlash, and the politico’s know it.

      – Sistah. I don’t think “is there a middle ground?” is the right question.

      – The question I think should be:

      “Why do we have to tie border security to all the other immigration issues?”

      – We could and should have border security period!, quite aside from any other issues. To downplay it like the Bush admin has, is just crazy, and a political ploy.

      – Tell me where you think that is wrong.

      – Bang **==

    28. Severian says:

      CB… How the hell do you go about collecting taxes from people that are basically invisable. We don’t know who they are or where they are.

      Ehem, that would be a good reason for the Fair Tax! :d