President Bush is a man on a mission this week [late November 2005]. He seeks to reinvigorate his leadership and rehabilitate his public standing by addressing an issue of enormous import to the country as of no less concern to its citizens the insecurity of our borders and our dysfunctional immigration policies.
It remains to be seen if Mr. Bush will benefit politically from his visits to border states and meetings with those charged with protecting them and the rest of us from illegal aliens. Many of the border crossers are looking for economic opportunity but some may well be terrorists. More important, whether the country will benefit from the president's current, intense focus on immigration-related issues depends on whether he agrees with the following 10 principles
(1) The purpose of U.S. immigration policy is to benefit the citizens of the United States.
(2) Since immigration policy can profoundly shape a country, it should be set deliberately, not by accident or acquiescence, with careful consideration to ensure it does not adversely affect American citizens and communities' quality of life.
(3) Immigration policy should be based on and adhere to the rule of law. Immi-gration laws must be enforced consistently and uniformly throughout the United States.
(4) Noncitizens enter the United States as guests and must obey the rules governing their entry. The U.S. government must track the entry, stay and departure of all visa-holders to ensure they comply fully with the terms of their visas or to remove them if they fail to do so.
(5) The U.S. borders must be physically secured as soon as possible. An effective barrier to the illegal entry of both aliens and contraband is vital to U.S. security.
(6) Those responsible for facilitating illegal immigration shall be sought, arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law and shall forfeit profits from such activity. This applies to smugglers and traffickers of people, as well as those involved in producing, procuring, distributing or using fraudulent or counterfeit documents.
(7) U.S. employers shall be given a simple and streamlined process to determine employees' legal eligibility to work. Employers who obey the law shall be protected both from liability and from unfair competition by those who violate immigration law. The violators shall be subject to fines and taxes in excess of what they would have paid to employ U.S. citizens and legal residents for the same work.
(8) Those who enter or remain in the United States in violation of the law shall be detained and removed expeditiously. Illegal aliens shall not accrue any benefit, including U.S. citizenship, as a result of their illegal entry or presence in the United States.
(9) No federal, state or local entity shall reward violators of immigration laws by granting public benefits or services or by issuing or accepting any form of identification or by providing any other assistance that facilitates unlawful presence or employment in this country. All federal and all law-enforcement agencies shall cooperate fully with federal immigration authorities and report to such authorities any information they receive that an individual may have violated immigration laws.
(10) Illegal aliens now in the United States may be afforded a one-time opportunity to leave without penalty and seek permission to re-enter legally if they qualify under existing law. Those who do not take advantage of this opportunity will be removed and permanently barred from returning.
These principles are contained in a platform called the "Secure America" Pledge. The pledge has been endorsed by more than 30 organizations concerned with the national interest and the threat posed to it by insecure borders and illegal immigration. The hope is that every serving or would-be officeholder in the country will be asked if they support the Secure America principles, starting with the president of the United States.
By so doing, the voters can establish at last whether they are supporting candidates who will represent their commonsense views on such things as:
* The need to secure our borders starting with a fence along the U.S.-Mexico boundary (see www.WeNeedaFence.com) and adding military personnel to those who patrol it to prevent further millions from entering illegally every year.
* The imperative of cracking down on employers who hire illegal aliens.
* Ensuring we are at least as rigorous about monitoring who comes into and leaves this country as are video rental stores and credit card companies about the status of their products.
* Urging all law enforcement agencies to support the mission of our sorely overstretched immi-gration authorities.
* And dramatically tightening up visa procedures, not least by abandoning the "visa lottery" that amounts to playing Russian roulette with terrorist applicants.
If George W. Bush can now embrace such principles and pledge to work for carrying them out in the foregoing ways, he has an excellent chance to resecure the American people's support. Without this commitment, he is unlikely to do so and, worse yet, will be unable to fulfill his first duty to secure America.