Monday, May 15, 2006

Bush to propose using National Guard on Mexican Border

According to White House sources, during his televised speech Monday night, President Bush will propose using National Guard troops "as a stopgap measure" to increase security along the border with Mexico while the Border Patrol builds up its own resources for the task. Supposedly, Bush will also speak in support of some kind go Guest Worker program, and a path to US citizenship for undocumented workers currently in the country.

Frankly, given Bush's low popularity, I think that politically this will backfire on him. In attempting to appeal to both sides (increasing security while supporting some form of what will be called amnesty, though I'm sure supporters will avoid the word), he will wind up with both sides attacking him instead. Liberals will call it a militarization of the border; conservatives will reject the idea of amnesty; immigrant advocates will call the guest worker program exploitative, and labor will object to it on the grounds that it lowers wages and reduces job opportunities for Americans.

A more popular president might be able to lead on the issue, and get a compromise of some kind accepted, but Bush has no political capital left, and I don't think this speech is going to do much to help him -- or towards solving the issue.

It's an interesting issue, in that clearly I think both political parties are hoping to somehow use it to gain favor in the mid-term elections -- but neither party is quite sure how.

(I also tend to suspect the mission won't do a lot to help the sagging National Guard recruiting efforts....)