Why Bush is Jumping Into the Immigration Battle
With Bush already being more unpopular than ever, you have to wonder why he's diving headfirst into the Third Rail of immigration reform. Immigration is probably the most dangerous wedge issue out there, for both parties. It cuts across party lines more than any other issue.
I personally have no opinion on illegal immigration. I’m usually pretty opinionated (no!) but this issue is just too complex with too many underlying issues. Whenever somebody says “those illegal aliens are stealing American jobs and draining our resources” I think “yeah, that’s right.” When somebody else says “these people are doing the jobs Americans won't do; America was founded by immigrants” I think “hmmm, good point.”
Here's one take on why Bush is so gung ho about the doomed immigration reform bill. Bush sees himself as a Hacendado — an estate owner in Old Mexico. He needs to get the maximum amount of work from “his” people, but he also needs to protect them. He thinks the shrewdest thing he could do is grant citizenship to “his” people. As Howard Fineman puts it, “he wants employers to have access to all of that cheap labor, but wants to make the system more orderly.”
Whether this theory is correct or not, it’s as good an explanation as any. Bush’s furious devotion to this immigration reform bill seems more like a suicide mission. Fineman says: “Here he is, an unpopular leader fighting an unpopular war. His two-term presidency is clattering to a conclusion, besieged on all sides, taking hits on everything from his attorney general to his general incompetence. And so he decides to do what? Climb into the ring for an ultimate fighting bout with the base of the very Republicans who got him to the White House.”