Sunday, May 07, 2006

Governor Schwarzenegger Psychoanalyzes the Immigration Protest Marches

The quintessential immigration straddle and new policy alchemy by which politicians of every stripe can turn difficult choices into easy solutions is now in plain view: tough talk about border security and couple that with a support of a “guest worker” program. Liberal Democrats like Hillary Clinton and liberal Republicans like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger agree that it seems like an ideal solution. Tap into American anxiety and anger over porous borders, and at the same time American friendliness and hospitality. But every one in a while politicians overplay what they think is their winning hand.

Consider the recent press conference during which Governor Schwarzenegger lashed at out the federal government, “In some of the harshest terms he has used to date” for leaving the nation’s borders vulnerable and failing to come up with “a sensible approach to immigration.”

He has criticized federal policy makers for letting immigration, “hang out there for 20 years and not do anything about it, when they knew this is a problem." He said at this press conference that, “to have a border that is not secure is to me staggering."

Fair enough, but on many immigration matters the governor had little to say. Does he support eventual citizenship for the estimated eleven million plus illegal immigrants now in the country? He didn’t say. Does he support strict enforcement of workplace immigration laws? If he does, perhaps he could tell us more about what he has done about this in California. Does he believe that all the illegal immigrants in California are doing jobs that “American’s won’t do”? As the saying goes, “inquiring minds want to know.”

Perhaps the governor’s his most surprising comment was that the protest marches in Los Angeles, Chicago, and other cities were the Bush Administration and the federal government’s fault. How is that? Well, according to the governor, the demonstrations were,” an expression of frustration. People want to send a message to Washington that they're not happy with certain bills….” Certain bills? What bills are they?

The governor doesn’t say, but we can guess he is not referring to border security measures since he cannot logically both criticize the government failure to provide border security while siding with illegal immigrants who oppose making it harder both to gain entry and citizenship. Those “certain bills” are clearly the ones dealing with the nature of a guest worker program and its relationship to legalization and citizenship.

So according to the governor, the demonstrations rather than being a meticulously planned effort to pressure Congress as it was considering new immigration legislation was simply the spontaneous outplay of collective frustration. If so, it was self- induced frustration since the eleven million plus illegal immigrants came here of their own free will and for their own self-interested purposes. The governor need not have cloaked their massive breaking of immigration laws with the thin veneer of victim hood.

The marches and boycott are more accurately seen as an orchestrated attempt by people with no legal standing in American politics and their allies to shout over and drown out the views that Americans have been expressing about illegal immigration with increasing strength in the last twenty years: Stop illegal immigration and stop offering incentives, like eased paths to citizenship, that fuel it. No amount of artifice or straddle will turn that lead into gold.

How many American citizens marched in favor of easier paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants? March supporters don’t say. How many of those who marched were actually American citizens? March supporters didn’t count. I am willing to bet that both those numbers are extremely small. That means that the demonstrations and the boycott were carried out by those who have broken our immigration laws and who are attempting to pressure Congress into excusing, and then rewarding, their behavior. Does that seem like something a governor ought to legitimize by providing misplaced psychological excuses?

Mr. Schwarzenegger has his psychological analysis and his priorities reversed. It is the American people who have become increasing frustrated with the government’s unwillingness or inability to stem the flow of illegal immigration. It is the American people who are not happy with “certain bills,” Which bills are they? Easy, those bills that reward illegal immigrants with the most precious award this country can give, citizenship.