U.S.-Mexico border

President Bush says that part of the solution to illegal immigration “must” include a way for those already in the United States but without legal authorization to be given that status.

“We will conduct this debate on immigration in a way that is respectful to our heritage,” he said at a recent White House event honoring Hispanic Heritage Month. “We are a nation of law, and we will enforce our law.

“But at the same time, we must remember that in order to secure our borders, in order to make sure we fulfill our heritage, immigration reform must be comprehensive in nature. We must understand that you can’t kick 12 million people out of your country; that we must figure out a way to say to those that if you’re lawful and if you’ve contributed to the United States of America, there is a way for you to eventually earn citizenship.”

The issue of “amnesty” to illegals already in the country remains one of the hottest issues in the debate over illegal immigration. There are many who believe that the border laws need to be enforced first, to dry up the gusher of illegal aliens moving into the United States, and then those who are here can be addressed.

One of those groups is Americans for Legal Immigration, where spokesman William Gheen told WND that without a solid enforcement of border access, there’s no point in having other laws.

“That’s where it comes down,” he said. “For any law to be a deterrent, the punishment must be greater than the rewards. Illegal aliens never will be able to pay for illegally immigrating. They must leave. That’s the only punishment we have that’s greater than the crime.”

“Just imagine, if bank robbers were caught and told they must give back 75 percent of the money!”

Bush said “automatic amnesty” isn’t the goal.

“But everybody in our land understands these people must be treated with respect and dignity. There are citizenship lines for people from our neighborhood. People ought to be given a chance to get at the back of the citizenship line and have a chance.”

“And so I assure my friends here that I will – we will enforce the border as people expect us to do. But as we do so, we’ll do so in a humane way, in a way that honors that great tradition of the United States of America, one nation under God,” Bush said.

President Bush signing Homeland Security funding plan

Congress approved and Bush signed a bill just a week ago creating a plan for the construction of a 700-mile wall that would effectively halt illegal immigration through the border between the United States and Mexico, but as WND reported bloggers immediately pointed out that a separate bill to actually begin funding the project hasn’t been signed into law yet.

And Texas Sen. John Cornyn, in a related WND story said he doubts whether it ever will be built.

Gheen told WND that it has the appearance of a “sham discussion.” There’s a lot of talk and some voting on building the facilities needed to control border crossings, but even before all those plans are final, the discussion turns to amnesty.

In fact, he said some unofficial indicators are that illegal immigration has spiked since Bush started talking about amnesty.

Bush has backed a Senate plan to give longtime illegal aliens an opportunity for citizenship, but not allow that same open door for short-term arrivals in the United States.

The fence plan has stirred some international feelings, with Mexican officials sending a diplomatic protest to Bush over the effort, and threatening to take the issue to the United Nations.

Mexican officials have expressed doubt, too, whether the fence ever will be completed, but Congressman Duncan Hunter, who penned last year’s provisions as part of an immigration enforcement effort, said the law states the wall “shall” be built.

One participant in a weblog said the plan just doesn’t make sense.

“Dear Mr. President,” he wrote. “You need to give a blanket pardon to all criminals that break our laws. Or, enforce our laws. You shouldn’t pick and choose which laws are OK to violate.”

In an earlier radio program, Bush suggested resolving the status of those already in the U.S. this way:

“They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully, and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration. We will find a rational middle ground between automatic citizenship for illegal immigrants and mass deportations of people who’ve been living here for many years with jobs, families, and deep roots in our country,” he said then.

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