Speaking in the shadow of the border in Tucson, Arizona, President George W. Bush outlined his vision for comprehensive border security and immigration reform. The President got it exactly right. If Congress delivers a legislative package that meets the President's goals, it will go a long way toward making America a more secure, free, and prosperous nation. To do anything less would be just plain wrong.
The Rule of Law
The President is to be commended for taking as his starting point-and reminding Congress of-the fundamental principles of the Constitution and the rule of law: "I have a solemn duty, and so do the members of the United States Congress, to protect our nation, our Constitution, and our laws." In order to protect our nation's immigrant heritage, the nation's laws must be enforced.
The President emphasized that strong enforcement of immigration laws is essential to deterring individuals from living and working unlawfully in the United States. He identified three essential components to any reform package.
- An end to "catch and release."Many individuals arrested for being unlawfully present are released until a judicial hearing determines whether they should be deported. Many abscond before they are deported. Ending this practice is vital.
- No amnesty for lawbreakers.The President warned that he will veto any legislation that grants amnesty to individuals who are unlawfully present in the United States.
- Legal alternatives. The President called for efficient, effective, and secure lawful alternatives for employers to get the workers they need.
Those who want to permanently live here should come on the path to citizenship, accepting both the responsibilities and privileges of joining a community of self-government. Along with his no-amnesty pledge, the President rightly stated that temporary work programs should be just that-temporary. The unstated but logical policy is that those currently here illegally must leave and apply for visas for entry, just like everyone else who wishes to work here.
The President rightly noted that enforcement of immigration laws is an important component of border security. An improved law enforcement presence will help reduce the flow of illegal entry across the southern border. He also acknowledged that more resources are needed for border security.
The Way Ahead
Only a comprehensive package that addresses internal enforcement, border control, citizenship and the rule of law, and cooperation with immigrants' home countries will be sufficient. There is more that can be done to build on Bush's agenda. Congress should also promote international cooperation and structural economic reforms in Latin America. Still, Bush's speech should serve as a blueprint for action.
The Principles of Immigrationby Edwin Meese III and Matthew Spalding
Four principles must be at the core of immigration policy: consent of the governed, patriotic Assimilation, secure borders, and rule of law.
Alternatives to Amnesty: Proposals for Fair and Effective Immigration Reformby Edwin Meese III, James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Matthew Spalding, Ph.D., and Paul Rosenzweig
If amnesty isn't the answer, what is? Heritage experts lay out a comprehensive proposal so that today's illegal immigrants will have every incentive to respect the rule of law.
Safeguarding America's Sovereignty: A "System of Systems" Approach to Border Security by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.
The Administration must build a "system of systems" that welds all of the nation's border assets into a single coherent security enterprise that deploys the right asset to the right place at the right time to do the right thing.
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow for National Security and Homeland Security in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Matthew Spalding, Ph.D., is Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at The Heritage Foundation.