DNC: Bush Fences In Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Right Wing Political Stunt Stays the Course on Republican Security Failures
Washington, DC - President Bush this morning will complete his definitive abandonment of comprehensive immigration reform by signing a flawed and politically-driven enforcement only Republican bill that mandates a fence on our southern border, but fails to fund its construction. The Republican Congress, in a political stunt designed to cater to the far right wing base of their party, authorized a border fence 700 miles long along a border that spans more than 2,000 miles, and even then appropriated only a small portion of the billions needed to build that fence. Adding to their hypocrisy in an election year, Congressional Republicans left in a provision that even allows small amounts of funding to be used on other programs.
Although the bill passed Congress several weeks ago, the do-nothing GOP Congressional leadership held the bill until now, so that they could use the publicity for electoral gain heading into the upcoming elections. The bill signing ceremony also ends an intra-Party clash the White House lost, as the bill signing will now take place in a public ceremony, which the President had hoped to avoid.
"By abandoning comprehensive immigration reform and embracing election year political stunts, President Bush and Republicans in Washington have once again put the interests of their party above the interests of the American people," said Democratic National Committee spokesperson Luis Miranda. "As much as the Republican Party wants to pretend they've done something to make our country safer, the fact is this political stunt will do nothing to secure America's borders and will do nothing about the 12 million people working inside America's borders today. Democrats remain committed to real and comprehensive immigration reform that's both tough and smart."
President Bush's Election Year Rhetoric On Immigration
Bill Signing Timed For Election Season. "Weeks after the bill passed both the House and Senate, Republican leaders sent the fence bill to the White House on Monday. President Bush must sign it within 10 days, or it is automatically vetoed and sent back to Congress. The unusual delay before the bill's signature will let Republicans talk about border security and illegal immigration in the last days of campaign season, as the GOP tries to hold onto slim majorities in the House and Senate." [Gannett, 10/24/06]
* GOP Congress Wanted To Wait Until Elections For Fence Bill Signing To Make It A Political Issue. "The White House is pleading with Congress to send over the bill authorizing 700 miles of fence on the U.S.-Mexico border so the president can sign it immediately, but Republican leaders on Capitol Hill want to wait until closer to the election and to have a public signing ceremony. 'Send us the damn bill. We'd like to autograph it,' said a senior administration official . Congressional Republicans, though, are convinced the issue is a political winner and want to hold onto the bill so it will be signed closer to next month's congressional elections. ... 'It's a timing issue: We want it signed closer to the election when folks are paying attention and those who want to take advantage of the messaging opportunity can do so, and the White House is aware of this," said an aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican. House Republican leadership aides confirmed that strategy." [Washington Times, 10/18/06]
* Bush Flip-Flopped: Will Now Sign Bill In Public Ceremony. "The decision to have a public ceremony is a reversal for the Bush administration, which had appeared reluctant to tie itself so publicly to the enforcement-only measure. Although Mr. Bush had committed to signing the bill, aides had said consistently over the past few weeks there would not be a signing ceremony. But Republicans in Congress had demanded a public signing, with leaders saying the bill is a major accomplishment that will help their re-election prospects." [Washington Times, 10/24/06]
Latino Republicans Unhappy With Failed GOP?Policies On Immigration. "The Rev. Danny de Leon of Templo Calvario in Santa Ana, considered the biggest Latino bilingual church in the U.S., said that he was so frustrated with his party's response to immigration that he was likely to stay home rather than vote for Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - and that he might also sit out the 2008 election. 'A lot of people are saying, 'Forget being a Republican. I want to go to the Democratic Party,'' said De Leon. 'It's a shame that one issue has divided many of us that have been in the Republican Party for a long time and has brought us to ask the question: Do I or do I not want to belong to this party?'"?[Los Angeles Times, 10/24/06]
Fence Bill Flawed
Funds For Fence Can Be Allocated To Other Projects. "There also are questions of whether the fence will be more of a symbol to be used in elections than a reality along the border. For one thing, shortly before Congress adjourned, the House and Senate gave the Bush administration leeway to distribute the money allocated for the fence to other projects, including roads, technology and other infrastructure items to support the Department of Homeland Security's preferred option of building a 'virtual fence.'" [Washington Post, 10/12/06]
GOP Bill Only Offers "Down Payment" On Fence Construction; Billions More Needed To Build. "GOP leaders have singled out the fence as one of the primary accomplishments of the recently completed session. Many lawmakers plan to highlight their $1.2 billion down payment on its construction as they campaign in the weeks before the midterm elections." [Washington Post, 10/6/06]
Comprehensive Immigration Reform "Dead"
Scripps News: Comprehensive Immigration Reform "Dead." "Comprehensive immigration reform appears dead for the year, as House Republicans on Thursday announced plans to push ahead with border security measures and leave everything else for another time." [Scripps News, 9/7/06]
Rep. LaHood: "We've Given Up On Immigration." "Rep. Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican, noted that the unfavorable political landscape leaves GOP leaders little choice but to fight it out on defense and terrorism. 'People aren't paying attention to the economy. We've given up on immigration. We need to send people home with some significant accomplishments, and we have no other choice,' LaHood said. 'We have no other issue.'" [Washington Post, 9/17/06]
Bush Lowers Expectations: No "Timetable" For Immigration Reform. "I'll continue working -- I don't know the timetable. My answer is, as soon as possible, that's what I'd like to see done." [President Bush, 9/15/06]