I've come to hate immigration, which is an awful thing for any American — and one named Lopez at that — to admit. Immigration should be an inspirational topic about "huddled masses yearning to breathe free." But in 2007, it's not: It's a contentious, unserious, dangerous topic.
Maybe I've caught Bush Derangement Syndrome. I'd like to believe I have, since that will alleviate my guilt a little. I hate being one of the Bush administration detractors. There's a war going on, and the stakes are just too high to be fooling around and compromising a commander in chief's authority unnecessarily.
I'll compromise where I have to. I'll put up with bad judgment here and there: Harriet Miers? The incompetent Alberto Gonzales? Torching the First Amendment by signing campaign-finance reform? Things like the war are so important that it is easier to look past previous gaffes. He knows there's an enemy out there that hates America.
But Immigration is about the war, too. It's literally our first line of defense. Who gets in and out? Who is here? These are pretty fundamental questions in a country where there are already an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. And yet, the president, instead of taking such concerns seriously, engages in immature name-calling.
On the day a deal between Senate leaders and the White House was announced, President Bush said that the bill will be without "animosity." He aimed that at this Lopez — a critic. Supposedly, the attitude goes, if you're not with Jorge Arbusto, you're filled with anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant "animosity."
Speaking to a Hispanic group earlier this year, key amnesty proponent South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham proclaimed: "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up."
That condescending attitude has led the White House to cast aside many an ally — most notably Texas senator John Cornyn, who stands out among senators as a smart conservative who defends the White House ably on the cable news rounds. And yet, during negotiations toward the deal that was eventually struck, Cornyn's concerns were not taken seriously, if the buzz is to be believed.
Instead of being the loyal ally the White House so badly needed, Cornyn was forced to be skeptical within hours of the deal's announcement: "I simply cannot, and will not, support any legislation that repeats the mistakes of the 1986 amnesty." Even before the details of the compromise became clear, a source close to Cornyn told me that the senator had serious reservations; the implication was that he had absolutely no reason to trust the judgment of the White House.
Cornyn wanted to see real enforcement safeguards in the bill — targeting businesses that hire illegal aliens. He wanted, in other words, to be confident there would be some law enforcement in this bill. But his pleas fell on deaf ears.
This deal came just days after Newsweek reported that three of the four suspects who plotted to kill U.S. troops at Fort Dix in New Jersey were in the U.S. illegally. You'd think the president would take the time to address such serious concerns in a serious manner — especially when they are raised by respected allies like Cornyn. Instead, he announced a plan that met with the approval of pro-amnesty groups, one that could cost the U.S. taxpayer $2.5 trillion in retirement benefits alone, according to the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector. Nice deal if you're not a law-abiding American.
As initial details emerged about the immigration deal, conservatives were demoralized. Readers of my conservative Web site e-mailed me using the "I" word — impeachment. Most weren't serious; but all were genuinely concerned. When Republicans like George W. Bush, and even the beloved conservative Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, give in to a vast amnesty plan, how much worse could the Democrats be? I hate the immigration issue for many reasons, but most practically because it may have just won the Democrats the presidency in 2008.
Kathryn Lopez is the editor of National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com). She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.