Citizen Staff Writer
In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Bush spoke about Iraq. And Iran. And Afghanistan.
He spoke about Social Security and health care and isolationism and economic progress. He discussed tax cuts and entitlements and earmarks and energy and teaching math and science to children.
And the president talked about immigration. But if you blinked, you missed it.
Bush spoke for 53 minutes Tuesday, but he spent less than one minute on immigration. His speech contained 5,402 words, but only 73 on immigration.
This is only the latest in a string of immigration disappointments from Bush and his administration. The president has said comprehensive immigration reform is important, but his inaction and lack of follow-through belies that.
Bush backed into the immigration issue on Tuesday by saying that keeping the United States economically competitive “requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values and serves the interests of our economy.”
He called for “stronger immigration enforcement and border protection” and a “rational, humane guest worker program.”
That was all well and good – as far as it went. But Bush has yet to move beyond generalities and throw his political weight behind any of the immigration reform proposals that have surfaced in Congress – many of them introduced by Arizonans.
Bush’s silence has led to absurd proposals, such as a 2,000-mile wall on the border.
He called in his speech for a guest worker program “that rejects amnesty.” But it is not clear what he meant by that.
If Bush is saying that people now in this country illegally should never be allowed to achieve permanent residency or citizenship, he is being impractical.
An estimated 11 million people are in the United States illegally. If they are not given some incentive to step forward and become part of a guest worker program, they will continue to live and work in the shadows. And we will never know who has entered this country illegally.
To Bush and to many people in Washington, D.C., the immigration debate is one of philosophies and theories and politics. To those of us living within walking distance of the border, it is a failure that we deal with daily.
Just last week, a Tucson Citizen report found that in the past six years, Pima County taxpayers have spent at least $62.5 million on border-related expenses.
That includes money to jail illegal immigrants who break other laws, money to treat those who are sick or hurt, money to clean up the trash they leave and money to recover, examine and store the bodies of those who die trying to get here.
This is not a philosophical debate for us. This is an issue that deserved more than 73 words from the president.
Congratulations to nearly 70 members of the Tucson Police Department who have been honored for excellence.
The department recently presented the awards to sworn and civilian employees in a ceremony at the Tucson Convention Center. All the recipients were nominated by their peers or supervisors.
Police officers and civilian employees are the backbone of a safe community. We thank them for their service.
For a complete list of those honored, go to www.tucsoncitizen.com, click on “Opinion” and look for this editorial.