I wanted to post a quick reaction to Bush’s speech. I’ll post a link to the speech itself when I locate one.
I liked a lot of what I heard in Bush’s speech. I believe he’s responding to the nation’s consensus position on the topic. I wish he’d delivered this speech and taken this course 5 years ago.
I’d like for there to be a timeline. If you construct the fence and improve patrolling of the border in 2008, have a new biometric ID in 2009, and strong enforcement laws against hiring illegals in 2010, I’d be okay with a guest-worker program in 2012. I wouldn’t be happy with a guest-worker program in 2008 and a fence constructed by 2012.
I think that penalties against hiring illegals should be much more severe, even confiscatory, and the enforcement should be much more serious. Hiring illegals should cease to be a viable business plan. IMO that’s a prerequisite for what I believe is the necessary expansion of immigration into this country. At this point part of the attraction of illegal migrants for some employers is the fact that they are illegal. Expansion of legal immigration or any guest-worker program without severe penalties for hiring illegal migrants would merely replace the current set of illegal workers with a new set.
I also wish that President Bush had devoted some time to the push factors that drive people out of their native countries. We’re all aware of the many pull factors that draw people to the United States. I think that we should be devoting a lot more effort to motivating other countries to ameliorate some of those.
I’ll post interesting reactions to the speech from the blogosphere as I run across them.
UPDATE: Joe’s Dartblog has a complete transcription of the speech. Joe is favorably disposed towards what Bush had to say:
OH, FINALLY: I am not taking this speech quite as seriously as I ought to, because I’m working on some other things. My take-away from Bush’s remarks is just a very happy feeling that he’s actually said out loud that immigrants should be made to learn English. First, because I happen to love the English language. Second, because it is good and solid and conservative.
Not conservative in the right-wing way. Conservative in that it recognizes that there was a time when learning English was universally thought to be just as fundamental to immigrating to the United States as actually moving one’s physical self within her borders. And that for an immigrant-friendly country to be successful (and let us not pretend that there are very many immigrant-friendly countries in the world, let alone any especially notable success stories) there must be an atmosphere such that immigrants desire to adopt not just new environs but a new life, including a new language. The multicultural immigration mess of the past few decades has served the purpose of eliminating our good old “big melting pot” metaphor and replacing it with “a few dozen isolated little saucepans”. Let’s everyone speak English.
James Joyner live-blogged the speech. He also includes a small pundit round-up afterwards.
Professor Bainbridge’s reactions are much the same as mine.
Iowa Voice has a pretty good round-up of reactions from the right (mostly immigration hawks) if that’s what you’re looking for.
Kevin Drum had what I fear is a pretty fair reaction:
Actually, I don’t really have anything against most of this stuff. Bush’s position on immigration seems surprisingly reasonable to me. But it’s still kind of fun watching him bob and weave and choose his words with such delicate care in order to avoid the “first fully televised political suicide in history,” courtesy of the wingnut base he’s spent his life pandering to.