News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Friday, October 5, 2007

Where does Bush really stand on immigration?

What are President Bush’s motives behind the administration’s new hard-line stance on immigration enforcement? The recent ICE raids in New York are the most recent in a series of crackdowns that began with proposed sanctions on employers who hire undocumented workers.

It is certainly a turnaround for Bush. The president invested much of his political capital on comprehensive immigration last June—and lost big.

Could this macho posture be an attempt to win back the support of the nativist fringe? Among the hounds and pickup truck set, Bush has gone from idol to turncoat. And these folks take some serious umbrage at those who desert their ranks. “As a former military member who spent twenty-one years defending our great nation, I see George Bush as a traitor and worse,” said James F. Fleming Jr., a retired Air Force Major on the right-wing blog V-Dare. Similar comments fill this page and others on the web. It’s quite a comeuppance for the hero of 9-11.

But there may be another, more cunning reason, for Bush’s get-tough ‘tude. It may not only win him the lost support from the right, the heavy-handed busts could actually help stimulate the need for real reform on immigration, which many believe Bush still supports.

It would work like this: Let’s bust some employers and launch some raids. Once the immigrants start to leave, the dire economic consequences will become apparent, triggering a new congressional debate on immigration reform. The strategy has no downside for Bush. He appears tough with a flagging constituency, yet he may still get the end result he wants. There is only one mind this subtle in the White House. Could this have been Karl Rove’s last hurrah?

Raul Ramos y Sanchez