Although immigration is not a huge issue here in Washington state (we're not too worried that British Columbians are going to invade our cities the way some of the righties in border states talk), it is clear that the Bush Administration is putting on a dog and pony show and forcing states like Arizona and New Mexico to clean up its mess.Last night on CNN
, Governor Richardson called it like it is:
Well, I'm very skeptical as a border governor that deals with this issue every day of the National Guard deployed at the border. We need more border patrol agents, more sensors, more equipment.
I need the National Guard in New Mexico to help with forest fires, emergency preparedness. The problem is that many of these guardsmen their mission is not border security. I'm concerned that they're tired from Iraq and Afghanistan. What we need is more border patrol agents and we're not getting them from the Congress and the federal government.
It's worth noting that Bush cut the border patrol request significantly in the current budget. Now he's taking tired National Guardsmen who have served tours in Iraq on Bush's Napoleonic crusade, and making them police our border with Mexico. As Richardson correctly points out, this is not the role of the National Guard, he'll need them when the forest fires inevitably break out, and to prepare for those unforeseen emergencies (especially the unforeseen emergencies the Bush Administration is known for - remember Katrina?).
Governor Richardson also went on to outline his common-sense solution to the immigration problem:
Well what you do is create an earned legalization plan based on good behavior. What's the alternative, to deport them? To declare them criminals as the House of Representatives has? What you would do is in the McCain-Kennedy bill, which I believe is the most practical, you set up standards, benchmarks.
If they speak English, if they pay back taxes, if they pay fines for coming in illegally, background checks, if they participate in civic activities. You put them to the back of the line, not ahead of those that are trying to get here legally.
You find a way to keep them here if they do jobs that Americans don't do. I believe that's a good sensible, practical step that the United States Senate is moving forward.
America has always been a nation of immigrants. This country was built on the backs of immigrant labor. With his plan, Bill Richardson allows potential immigrants to still dream the American dream, but holds them responsible for their actions. Opportunity and responsibility is what America is about, not xenophobia and marginalization of an entire ethnicity.
And as is typical with the Bush Administration, Richardson and other border governors were given very little information and not consulted in the formation of the plan.
We, the four border governors were informed two hours before and my big question for instance as a New Mexico governor, is from the 6,000, how many are going to be from New Mexico or come into New Mexico? They couldn't give me an answer on that. There are a lot of specifics that are not dealt with. It seems that this policy is being made on the fly and that's what's discouraging.
While George W. Bush clearly has no clue, Bill Richardson has stepped up and clearly articulated a sound, humane policy on immigration. Looks like someone else is going to clean up George's mess again. Georgie, you're doing a heckuva job.
And finally, Governor Richardson ironically notes:
You put up a wall on the border, America the country that tears down the Berlin Wall, that stands for freedom.
Ahh freedom..Nothing like having your phone wiretapped without a warrant, or being held incommunicado in a prison in Guantanamo Bay, or having your patriotism challenged when you oppose Administration policies, or no-bid contracts to cronies, or prostitutes for Congressmen in the Watergate Hotel, or bribes, or incestuous relationships with lobbyists.
This is why America needs a man of integrity like Bill Richardson as its President.