Bush's mixed message on immigration
President Bush today will call for a crackdown on illegal immigration, a move aimed at further rallying conservatives who recently cheered Mr. Bush's tough talk on Iraq and the Supreme Court.While the rhetoric has become serious, there is still no serious attempt to stop the infiltration at the border by increasing the force to space and building barriers to entry. ICE is still catching and releasing people who do not show for hearings.
But the president will also renew his call for a program to allow Mexicans who have already entered the U.S. illegally to remain here for up to six years. That initiative has long angered conservatives who equate it with amnesty.
"This is going to be about comprehensive immigration reform," a senior White House official said of today's Arizona speech. "He's going to talk about the three elements that comprise such reform -- border security, interior enforcement and a temporary worker program."
Mr. Bush will deliver his speech at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, about 90 miles from the Mexican border, after being briefed by customs and border patrol officials. Tomorrow, he meets with another group of border officials in El Paso, Texas.
The emphasis on border security is a change of focus for the president, who spent his first term talking almost exclusively about finding ways to allow illegal aliens to remain in the U.S. He shifted gears last month, placating conservatives who were rebelling against his Oct. 3 nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the SupremeCourt.
"We're going to get control of our borders," Mr. Bush said on Oct. 18. "Our goal is clear -- to return every single illegal entrant, with no exceptions."