Memo to Bush: Veto that stupid border fence


Here’s one for you: Two terrorists are walking up the street, having just arrived in America. One begins chattering in Arabic, only to be remonstrated by his frightened companion that this is the United States, "Do you want to get caught? Speak Spanish."

Funny, but not terribly so considering that almost everything in this country now comes in two languages.

But the Congress has fixed that, hasn’t it? In lightening fashion it authorized 700 miles of double fence along our southern border aimed at keeping more Hispanics from joining the 12 million undocumented workers already here. Once again our lawmakers have proven that, when all is said and done, most have little more courage than a desert mouse when it comes to tackling politically explosive issues.

To go home without at least addressing the most important domestic issue of the new millennium would have been unthinkable. So, as usual, lawmakers did the expedient thing, billing it as an antiterrorism necessity at a projected cost of $6 billion. It is legislation that President Bush should veto but probably won’t despite the fact Mexican authorities and humanitarian groups have protested and urged him to do so. Can we really afford another blow to our image of freedom and openness at a time when half the world views us as imperialistic and hypocritical? Doesn’t that portray us as fearful?

The answers are no and yes. But that has little to do with the importance of satisfying certain political constituencies five weeks before the mid-term elections. The sleight of hand, subscribed to in the Senate by 54 Republicans and 26 Democrats, was to make voters believe something important actually had been done to solve the growing immigration problem. Who cares about meaningful, long-term solutions? Let’s just get this election over then maybe we will do something else. Yeah, right.

In the first place it is hard to imagine that many voters are so naive as to believe for 10 seconds that this stupid fence, supposed to be completed in 2008, is going to slow down the flow of illegal visitors from the south. It won’t take much longer than that for those seeking permanent relief from poverty and deprivation and for those who get rich helping them to figure out how to bypass that obstacle. The gaps in the system, which stretches a distance equivalent to that from Washington, D.C. to Jacksonville, Fla., are large and hunger and poverty can produce unparalleled determination and ingenuity.

What is wrong, of course, is the failure to couple this fence with humane and sensible long-range immigration policies that accommodate this nation’s need for a vital labor force and at the same time offer a measure of security from terrorists. Nothing in this action provides for preferential treatment for aliens who have shown through years here that they can be good citizens, and maintains, with help from the Mexican government, an orderly, reasonable flow of immigrants who could avoid the river and desert crossings that are often disastrous.

Of course the United States must secure its borders from those who would do it harm. It is hard to believe that the fence alone will accomplish that. It is problematic whether this nation ever can be entirely safe from terrorist incursion along its thousands of miles of borders north and south. But adopting immigration policies that rely on more than just physical barriers would go a long way toward relieving hard-pressed security forces from having to deal with tens of thousands of immigrants who want nothing more than a safe haven.

In that regard, the fence measure requires the Homeland Security department to install a system of cameras along the Arizona section of the U.S.-Mexican border and to use aerial drones, sensors and other detection equipment to establish control of the entire border. The cost of that is estimated at another $1.2 billion and has been authorized by the legislation.

Ironically, Bush has proposed an immigration policy that is entirely sensible, only to have it thwarted by Democrats, who seem to want complete openness, and his own Republican majority in Congress who want to shut down immigration completely.

The president should veto this bill and make immigration his major domestic initiative for the last two years of his tenure. The only bright spot in the fence bill is that thousands of laborers will have to be hired to build it. Guess what their heritage is likely to be?

(Dan K. Thomasson is former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service.)


  1. marti

    And! There is the (SAVE) program. That stands for “Securing Alien Verification for ENTITLEMENTS” thats so your local illegals can get all these government services and YOU get to pay for them.

    Then there is also the SCAPS program that is supposed to reimburse states for the costs of incarceration and prosecution of illegal criminals.

    Here in Minnesota the cost to my state were 78 million in 2005, for which the fed returned only about 9 million.

    Again….either way, no matter who signs the check,,,its all coming out of taxpayer pockets.

  2. marti

    Mr Tomasson: Bush’s policy is sensible? ITs corporate pandering taken to a new height!

    Amnesty for all these illegals means a further reduction in the overall wage base for Americans!

    It means a reduction in the quality of life for all of us.

    If these people did not have enough loyalty to their own country to stay and fight for it, what makes you think they will have any loyalty to ours??

    This is simply a case of people being too lazy to do anything for themselves deciding that the grass was greener here and they would just come and take what they wanted.


  3. storky

    Noting the current rubber-stamp Congress lead by the War Criminals of the Bush Administration, this proposed fence is more likely to serve like the Berlin Wall – not so much to keep foreigners out, but to keep Americans in.

    Some might call this notion paranoid, but the Bush Administration confirms every otherwise paranoid notion by admitting the indiscretion. Secret prisons, torture, illegal spying . . . these tyrants won’t feel complete without a multitude of populations to subjugate and repress.

  4. Jeffery Haas

    It would be shocking to see Congress simply vote for increased enforcement of laws already on the books.
    Yes Virginia, there ARE laws that punish employers who hire illegals, and doing so would create a significant disincentive to cross into the country without “signing the guestbook”.
    But imagine for a moment, the hue and cry that would come from the various lobbies which represent these powerful business interests. These are the forces which originally lent themselves to push for the budget cuts which emasculated our border enforcement and which also pushed for state and local laws like “Special Order 40” in L.A.
    These are the forces which continue to promote the “appearance” of supporting law and order while profiting handsomely from laissez faire attitudes toward the parts of the law which affect their pockets.

  5. Doubtom says: “What hasn’t at least one good investigating journalist taken on this story?”

    Oddly enough, I found this bio: “Dan King Thomasson has long been known as “the lean gray wolf” of investigative journalism… In or out, Thomasson never quits digging”

    I guess when it comes to a de facto invasion, he puts down his shovel. Whereas some journalists used to “follow the money”, nowadays – especially when it comes to illegal immigration – they keep trying to obscure the trail. One way to solve that issue is to keep pointing out biases and discredit those news sources that support illegal immigration.

    In addition to leaving comments like some of those above, the reader can help in that effort by starting a blog and highlighting biases and omissions in news coverage.

  6. Mickeyf Mathis

    Step # 1 Fence. Step # 2 Big Fines for Big Companies like Swift, Tyson and Bo Pilgrim Step # 3 NO MORE ANCHOR BABIES Stay on this American READ READ and VOTE

  7. JimZ

    Normally I take a more liberal or libertarian stand on social issues but this is one I have to sadly, agree with the House bill from before.

    I can’t believe I actually found an issue I agree with them on. Bill Sensebrenner (sp?) is right, that the illegal alien amnesty passed 20 years ago during Reagan was an absolute failure and all it did was open the floodgates for what was to come over the next 20 years.

    I don’t care about how cheap these laborers are; the social cost to our country is outrageous. Get rid of ’em, I don’t care where they’re from.

    It’s not anti-hispanic, just get outta here, whereever you’re from and don’t come back without a work visa or application.

    Change the 14th Ammendment like Ron Paul proposes, and get rid of the automatic citizenship for being born in the USA to foreign parents. It’s an antiquated policy, formed in the frontier days. They didn’t forsee the modern world of expensive emergency room healthcare, welfare, colonias, corporate slavery, etc.
    It is the tool being exploited to be the gateway for families invading us.

    From everywhere.

  8. What part of illegal aliens do you not understand?

    Why should this country reward criminals – after all, that is what the people who break into our country are.

    I do agree that a fence is not enough – I suggest automatic sentry guns like in the directors cut of Aliens to augment the fence.

    Let’s keep Mexico’s human refuse where it belongs – on their side of the border.

  9. Fred P

    “Ironically, Bush has proposed an immigration policy that is entirely sensible…”
    Note that Bush has publically supported a number of bills, including this one.

  10. Ray

    There is a process to gain legal entry and citizenship in this country. There is good reason for that process. Time will show you why the illegal alien mess is choking this country.

    Build the fence from california to texas and make it fifty feet tall. It would cost less than a week of the phony war on terrorism. The slow death of this nation comes from within and near, not from half way around the globe.

  11. P J McConnell

    Can you imagine sneaking into Mexico, then stomping your feet for them to give you free medical assistance and to speak/teach your kids English? Or how about taking to their city streets with the Mexican flag upside down?

  12. rstwhile

    I do not understand why we must spend bags of money for something that is environmentally disastrous and essentially unnecessary. We have laws, that if enforced, would keep illegal aliens from being employed…enforce them!
    But that’s the real problem isn’t it…no one (elected) wants to spoil it for the corporations.

  13. Doubtom

    Exactly why are all the major players dancing all around this issue of illegal aliens overrunning the country? What hasn’t at least one good investigating journalist taken on this story? The borders are intentionally not being secured; the employers of these illegals are not being punished;and the many laws are being routinely violated. Isn’t some investigating reporter at all interested in this major story?
    Why are they now going after the “secondary” issue of fining employers while skipping right over the “first” issue of the illegals crashing the border?
    There is much to this story that is not being covered and many in authority should at the very least, be fired if not charged with violations of the law and malfeasance. Is anyone minding the store? Do we just let a problem become big enough so that we can sit back and say it’s impossible to deal with it? Much like the speed laws of today i.e., too many speeders so we’ll just look the other way and show up at the accident scene to use our little measuring wheel to establish that “Yup, those cars were definitely speeding before contacting”

  14. ClarkB

    Gee, what about humane treatment for Darfurians? Lets bring them here, I’m sure that they are more oppressed than the hispanics, and they will work for less also. Why give preferential tratment to hispanics in the great U.S. job give away? Since Mr. Thomasson thinks that we should open our borders in order to be humane, then lets open it to anyone who wants to come?

    Mr. Thomasson, what should we do with the 35% unemployed among our own unskilled citizens? How did this nation ever get by without illegal foreign scab labor?

    Is the U.S. and economic trade entity, or is it a sovereign nation. A fence has done wonders south of San Diego, why won’t it work elsewhere.

    Mr. Thomasson, you are a liar about our nations needs and the consequences opf the illegal alien invasion. If you get your way I hope your children thank you for the third world nation that will result. You do us all a disservice.

  15. Doubtom

    Unlike some I don’t see this as a partisan issue. Not all Democrats are for open borders, not by a long shot!

    This issue is being framed dishonestly as are most of the issues Congress deals with and it is intentional.

    It is being called Immigation Reform. There is no need for our Immigration system to be reformed. There is nothing wrong with it! No one has ever made a case for what is wrong with our Immigration system that it needs reforming. It is working perfectly well as the steady stream of “real” immigrants indicates. What these “reformers” want is not reform but “change” to recognize the illegals who have violated our laws by either crashing our borders or overstaying their visas.
    We have NO Immigration problem. We do have the problem of illegal aliens!
    And allowing the problem of illegal aliens to get so large that we can only say, “Well, it’s too big to handle, so let’s just grant them amnesty” is the same as signing away our sovereignty to accomodate the corporate interests who benefit from all this cheap labor.

    For those few delusional who still cling to the myth of government by the people, this provides a splendid opportunity to understand who really runs this country. Follow the money!
    Finally, while a few gate crashers might be a problem for the Border Patrol to handle, when they come across in the millions, that is an INVASION! And invading another country is an ACT of WAR! We should have delivered an ultimatum to Vincente Fox ages ago.
    For further clarification, we are not illegal immigrants in Iraq, WE ARE INVADERS and we committed an act of war!

  16. marti

    I am Democrat and most assuredly against illegal immigration.

    The cost to the federal government in housing, food stamps, medical care, child care, prenatal and delivery care, and INCARCERATION of criminals in 2005….was 200 BILLION dollars. The costs to states is added to this, adding another 180 billion on top of the 200.

    Seems to me that the argument that you can’t afford to ship them home is moot in light of the costs of keeping them here.

    Whether it comes from state or federal coffers….it all comes down to coming out of taxpayers pockets.