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Monday, June 28, 2004

Wall Street Journal Misses the Mark on Immigration Debate -- Bobby Eberle -- GOPUSA

Wall Street Journal Misses the Mark on Immigration Debate -- Bobby Eberle -- GOPUSA

One of the most contentious issues facing America's political leaders, office holders, and candidates is that of immigration reform. While those on the political left generally consider immigration reform to be synonymous with amnesty programs for illegal aliens, these same activists ignore the fact that real immigration reform involves a deeper, more comprehensive look at how immigration policies influence homeland security (or the lack thereof). Unfortunately, in a recent editorial, the Wall Street Journal jumped into the immigration debate with a "hit piece" designed to paint opponents of President Bush's "guest worker" program as "anti-immigrant" while ignoring the true nature of the immigration problem and the larger homeland security debate.

In the Wall Street Journal's June 17 editorial titled "Borderline Republicans," Republican office-holders who support President Bush's "guest worker" program are praised, while opponents are ridiculed. In a specific example of the Utah Republican Primary in which incumbent Rep. Chris Cannon bested challenger Matt Throckmorton, Cannon is mentioned favorably throughout the article, while Throckmorton is tagged as "xenophobic" and being propped-up by "deep-pocketed restrictionists."

While trying to make its point that Republicans should jump on the "guest worker" bandwagon, the editorial focuses much of its energy on discrediting certain immigration reform groups based on their funding and activities of their founders. The idea behind this approach is that if the organizations are discredited, so is their message. The Journal also quotes Cannon as saying that most GOP members believe that the "vast majority of aliens, documented or not, are productive" and "our economy needs them." The editorial adds that Cannon is concerned about "a bunch of Members who are demagoging the issue -- some to raise money, some for attention."

It is most disappointing that the conservative Wall Street Journal in an overt effort to "carry the water" for President Bush's plan would resort to name-calling and focus only on economics. By labeling proponents of real immigration reform as "anti-immigrant" and saying that America needs illegal aliens for a healthy economy, the Journal mocks millions of Americans who are concerned about the immigration issue for what the Journal would likely consider insignificant reasons such as homeland security and the rule of law.

In writing earlier this year about President Bush's plan for the millions of illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States, I received hundreds of messages from conservatives who believe that the immigration system needs a serious overhaul. These messages were not those anti-immigrant demagogues or closet racists spewing hatred, but rather these messages came from ordinary Americans who are concerned about security for themselves and their families. The immigration reform debate is much more than the pros and cons of "kicking out the illegals." It is a serious debate on homeland security.

If America cannot protect its borders, how can it ensure the security of the homeland? Wouldn't it be easier to stop terrorists before they enter the country rather than trying to track them down once they are already here? Earlier this month, a man said to be a sleeper agent for al Qaeda was arrested in New York. According to an ABC News report, the man told authorities that al Qaeda is planning more attacks within the United States. The man also revealed a scheme "to smuggle terrorists across the Mexican border."

This is a serious situation, and it deserves serious discussion. How can conservatives such as myself stand up and discuss immigration reform in the context of border security when the Wall Street Journal is labeling us as "anti-immigrant?" Not once in the Journal's editorial was the topic of border security mentioned. Not once did the editorial mention that many conservatives rightfully believe that rewarding illegal behavior only encourages more illegal behavior. Shortly after President Bush's announcement of his guest worker program, illegal immigration shot up "dramatically" according to the National Border Patrol Council. However, if conservatives step forward and discuss this in a logical manner, the name-calling starts and the shouts of "I can't hear you" begin.

Publications such as the Wall Street Journal should recognize that the immigration issue is more than just an economic issue of cheap labor. They should also realize that a great many Americans, including myself, are deeply concerned about the security of our country, and we realize that an important battle in the war on terror is making sure our homeland is secure. We are taking the fight to the terrorists, and at the same time, we must make it as difficult as possible for the terrorists to take the fight to us. Squelching debate through hit pieces and name calling does nothing to address the real immigration and security problems facing America. Of all publications, the Wall Street Journal should know better than that.

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Bobby Eberle is President and CEO of GOPUSA (www.GOPUSA.com), a news, information, and commentary company based in Houston, TX. He holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Rice University.

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