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RUSH: As to the immigration debate, ‘President Bush unveiled the basics of his latest immigration proposal yesterday.’ This is an LA Times story. They say it’s a ‘new immigration proposal,’ and the president hopes to get this done by August. ‘It is a mix of tougher border enforcement and a complicated path to legal status for illegal immigrants that the White House hopes can break the congressional deadlock over this issue.’ Now, Rich Lowry of National Review Online has a really good piece on this today. It’s breathtakingly contradictory (these are my words) to watch the Bush administration on this.

On the one hand when it comes to Iraq, no matter what the circumstances, we’re not giving up. We’re going to fight. We’re going to do the right thing. We’re going to keep plugging away, and we’re going to go and finish the mission. When it comes to illegal immigration, the slightest bit of progress which is now occurring — there are more and more raids that are taking place on the border; we’re finding more and more houses where illegally smuggled aliens are holing up and catching more and more smugglers — and it seems like, according to Lowry, the Bush administration wants to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and say, ‘Well, this is not working. We gotta come up with a new comprehensive plan.’ He did say yesterday that border security has to be first before anything else happens, but it is an interesting piece that Lowry has written, and he’s the editor of National Review. It contrasts the Bush approach with Iraq versus illegal immigration, whereas, if it’s not working, let’s give up on this and do something else. ‘[T]he president was vague about the details of his new effort…[but] one plan would require the [illegal immigrants] wishing to remain in the United States to first return to their country of origin and pay a $10,000 fine to obtain a three-year work visa.

‘The visas would be renewable – at a cost of $3,500. Also, [illegal immigrants] who were in the United States before June 1, 2006, who pay various fees and fines and who meet other criteria, including learning English, could eventually seek to become citizens.’ Now, ‘These conditions for visas and citizenship are more stringent than the provisions in a bill that the Senate passed last year and that Bush supported.’ That would be McCain and Kennedy on that bill. ‘But it remains uncertain whether tougher conditions will overcome the objections of those…who view as amnesty any path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Bush, as he has throughout the immigration debate, insisted in his speech yesterday that he opposed amnesty – which he defined as ‘the forgiveness of an offense without penalty.’ He said he was working with the Democrats who now control Congress and Republicans ‘to find a practical answer that lies between granting automatic citizenship to every illegal immigrant and deporting every illegal immigrant.”

Well, that’s quite a ways! You have a lot of room to play around and move in there. ”Deportation,’ he said, ‘is just an impractical position; it’s not going to work. It may sound good; it may make nice sound bite news – it won’t happen.” Overall you’d have to say that the plan is more to conservatives’ liking but they’re not popping any champagne corks out there over this, because everybody thinks, when you get down to it, you’re going to have a bureaucracy that’s going to have to say, ‘Oh, yeah, these people are going to have to go back home.’ That means they have to be deported. Whether you call it deportation or not, if you got people here that are going to have to first go back home and pay a fine and then come back, where are you going to find ’em to send ’em home first? A lot of people think that the way this is going to end up is blanket amnesty anyway, because once that’s tried and it’s discovered to be impractical — and if you can’t deport ’em, you can’t deport ’em — and yet you gotta find ’em and send ’em back home, and collect the ten grand?

Where are they going to get the ten grand? Student loan program? (interruption) Where are they…? (laughing) Snerdley said, ‘Don’t give ’em any ideas.’

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