Battle over sensitivity

By Jane Chastain

When John Kerry spoke at the Unity 2004 conference and said he would fight a “more thoughtful” and “more sensitive” war on terror, he left himself wide open for ridicule.

You want to be thoughtful and sensitive when sending valentines … you want deadly force when fighting a war. Kerry might have discovered that for himself had he hung around Vietnam a little longer than the four months it took to stage and film his exploits.

Dick Cheney was right to jump all over those Kerry remarks. I fully expect to see them replayed in a Bush-Cheney campaign commercial.

However, President Bush now has a sensitivity problem of his own. It concerns remarks made by Asa Hutchinson, his Homeland Security undersectary.

Hutchinson criticized the actions of a crack team of Border Patrol agents in southern California who recently took some 450 illegal aliens into custody in the interior of the state, for not considering the “sensitivities” of these lawbreakers.

This would make a great commercial for the Kerry-Edwards team but, alas, the Democrat presidential nominee and his pretty boy sidekick are even weaker on illegal immigration than the present administration.

All the polls show that a crackdown on illegal aliens is an issue 75 percent of Americans strongly support and ranks high on a list of voter concerns. Indeed, it is an issue that is vital to our national security! Unfortunately, it is an issue that neither of the two major parties wants to claim.

Hutchinson should have praised the 12-member Mobil Patrol Group from Temecula, Calif., for its effectiveness. Instead, this administration allowed itself to be backed into a corner by indignant members of the state’s Democrat congressional delegation who complained that these agents had dared to question day laborers, parents dropping off children at schools and shoppers. Horrors!

Last month, Hutchinson sent a letter to Rep. Joe Baca, a Democrat from San Bernardino, stating that these agents were “within their legal authority; however, they were not preapproved in accordance with long-standing … policy.” He then promised that “we will enforce these laws in a reasonable manner,” and consider “the sensitivities associated with interior enforcement of our immigration laws.” In other words, Hutchinson is ordering this highly effective team of Border Patrol agents to stand down.

So what exactly is this “long-standing” policy to which Hutchinson referred? It should be obvious. “Look the other way. Don’t do the job for which you were assigned!”

Jerry Seper of the Washington Times reported that sources inside the Department of Homeland Security say a formal written policy now is under review that would take the responsibility of rounding up those who break into the country illegally, but manage to get a few miles into the interior, away from Border Patrol and give it to the understaffed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

However, the 2,300 ICE agents already have their plates full. They are responsible for rounding up 80,000 criminal aliens within the country, not to mention some 320,000 “absconders” – those who flee after receiving their deportation orders.

Dick Cheney was right when he said, that not one of our wars “has been won by being sensitive.” Let us not kid ourselves: The war against illegal immigration will not be won by being “sensitive.” Furthermore, our country never will be secure until we win this war!

The 2004 Democrat Party Platform states: “We will improve security at our borders and entry-points to block the individuals and weapons that would harm us.” It says absolutely nothing about stopping those who supposedly break into our country for economic reasons. To borrow a phrase from former INS Special Agent Michael W. Cutler, “If we can’t stop the flow of economic aliens, how can we expect to stop al-Qaida?”

The Democrat Platform further states: “Undocumented immigrants within our borders who clear a background check, work hard and pay taxes should have a path to earn full participation in America.”

The United States has one of the most generous immigration policies on earth. We accept some 1 million legal immigrants each year. The Democrat Party has a long history of encouraging and rewarding those who break in front of those who play by the rules.

Unfortunately, the Bush plan, introduced in January, would do the same thing.

The Bush team let it be known that it will be working with GOP platform writers to thwart efforts by “conservatives” who will try to insert “extreme language” on immigration. Translation: inserting any mention of enforcing and strengthening our existing law.

Next week, there should be a real donnybrook in the Big Apple when the Republican Party Platform is hammered out. If not, then “sensitivity” will rule the day.