President to speak to the nation regarding immigration reform/security (Updated Links)

The President is about to make his remarks to the nation as regards the immigration issue. I’ll comment after the speech.

OK, I listened. The President avoided the instant death-word of “virtual” as regards the fences and I’m glad to hear that. I’m less pleased about some of the items, but at least he led off with security. I took note that his introduction referenced the high emotions across the board on this issue. He referenced the illegal alien advocacy protests and also the Minutemen, although he clearly avoided actually naming them. He also said something very curious that I wholeheartedly disagree with. He said that the illegals already here “beyond the reach of the law.” Excuse me? Perhaps he didn’t mean it that way, but it’s a damn peculiar thing to say.

I was going to do a relatively straightforward report on what he said but it occurs to me that none of you need me to do that. If you want to know what President Bush said tonight, go check out the White House web site and read the speech for yourself. It was only 16 minutes spoken so it should be a fairly quick read. Rather than bore you with a recap, I’ll just dive right in to my analysis.

At first blush, this speech was exactly what the President needed to do. He stepped right into border security stating that it was critical and detailing the improvements to the border patrol his administration has already done. I would love to say I was impressed but I’m not. As a professional in private enterprise, I can assure you that if I’d bumped up the budget on my project by 66% in 5 years and increased my staffing by 33% in the same time, you can bet your ass I’d be expected to have achieved the goals of my project. With all that having been done for the border patrol (increase in funding 66%, increase in agents from 9000 to 12000 ) shouldn’t we expect that they’d be doing a better job? Why is it that the border is uniformly described as “porous”, just as it was 10 years ago, when this much addition has been put into border security.

Unless the additions just weren’t given the proper follow-through.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of my problem with the speech. The President mentioned fences for the border, yes. He mentioned having the National Guard involved in their construction, yes. But he mentioned these items buried in the “we need a guest worker program to match those low-paid aliens to ‘jobs Americans won’t do’” rhetoric. Frankly, it just gave me the impression of someone saying, “yeah, yeah, secure the border. Blah blah.” I want to believe this man when he says the fences will be built and the border will be secured. I just can’t. It just seems like he was saying it but not really intending to follow through on it.

In taking a quick peek around the blogosphere as I write this, I note that Hugh Hewitt found much the same thing in his post-speech interviews with Julie Meyers of Homeland Security. The talking heads at Fox News like to characterize the fence as a “conservative issue” but it’s not. This is an issue that 2/3rds of the American people – right wing and left – are adamant about. The border has to see some real security measures and that means a real, live, honest-to-God fence. Or a wall – I’ll take either. But to have hundreds of miles of literally open space where a border is supposed to be is inviting illegals to come on in. The American people know that and they’re not going to accept platitudes on this one.

As for the National Guard…  Six thousand Guardsman? That’s it? Sure it’s better than the practical zero we have now but it needs to be at least double that to provide the coverage necessary. Unless those 6000 people are all civil engineers and construction workers who are going to break ground on a security fence this upcoming Monday, it just smacks of a feel-good, do-nothing effort.

I approve of the President’s call for mandatory english as part of the normalization plan. I approve of the end of the “catch-and-release” methodology, although one has to wonder how this call for the end of the program will differ from Chertoff’s vow to end the same practice in October of 2005.

Basically, kids, this one has left me cold. It all sounds OK (well, mostly OK) but I can’t just take the man’s word this time. I need to see real action, real soon. If the GOP in the House and the Senate don’t get their asses in gear and get a fence authorized, funded, and construction underway within the next few weeks, their chances for holding onto both houses of Congress in 2006 will diminish to a vanishing point. And they’ll deserve it.

Update: There’s lots more on this around the ‘sphere. Check out Power Line and Michelle Malkin for folks who think he blew it. Confederate Yankee says Bush just split the Republican Party. Captain’s Quarters sounds very much like he wants to be supportive but you can see the hesitation. Betsy Newmark thinks the Bush Administration better get someone over to Hugh Hewitt’s to explain themselves.