9:45ish: Finally, finally! Bob Schieffer asks about illegal immigration…but both candidates bomb.
Bush’s perfunctory reference to how he has sprinkled a few more Border Patrol agents across the southern border glosses over the horrendous policies instituted under his Department of Homeland Security that have resulted in undermining those agents. As I noted recently:
When a mobile unit of border agents in Southern California made a series of high-profile mass arrests of illegal aliens in June, prompting the ire of ethnic activists and Hispanic Democrats, Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson iced the agents’ efforts and publicly criticized the arrests. Instead of backing his own men and women, Hutchinson assured the open borders lobby that his department would bow to the “sensitivities” surrounding interior enforcement.
The retreat has had a devastating effect on border agents’ morale — and our safety. A new survey of border security personnel released this week by the National Border Patrol Council revealed that almost two-thirds of the workforce are demoralized, and nearly half of these employees have considered leaving their job within the past two years. The council noted: “Almost three years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, despite the expenditure of billions of dollars and endless rhetoric from the top about how anti-terrorism is our foremost priority, only about half of these officers believe that our nation is any safer from terrorist threats.”
Meanwhile, John Kerry delivers another empty promise–pledging to “toughen the borders” without giving a single specific example of how he would do so. Like Bush, he ignores the disastrous and deliberate lack of interior enforcement in this country. Has not a word to say about the dismal shortage of detention space for illegal aliens, the continued perilous policies of catch and release, and the deportation abyss created by the likes of Teddy Kennedy and his immigration lawyer friends. (More here.)
As for the economics of illegal immigration, someone in both campaigns ought to be reading Robert Samuelson.
More. Of. The. Same.
By the way, the hottest issue in Arizona right now is Proposition 200, which would in part require secure identification to vote in elections and to receive public benefits. President Bush could have strengthened his grass-roots conservative base–and scored with conservative Democrats–by endorsing the measure as good for national security, good for election integrity, and good for fiscal responsibility. Last month, an Arizona Republic poll in Phoenix showed that 66 percent of registered Arizona voters support the measure. The poll showed that Republicans favor the initiative by an 8-1 margin, while Democrats approve by a 3-1 margin.
So, why didn’t Bush utter a word about it? Because someone at the highest levels of the national GOP elite opposes the vast majority of Americans on this most important issue.