08/26/05 — Turnaround: Politicians trying to look tough on immigration issue

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Turnaround: Politicians trying to look tough on immigration issue

Democrats who want to run for president are suddenly talking tough about illegal aliens. When you hear that kind of rhetoric, run for the border. It’s all political posturing.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are cases in point. Both are presidential hopefuls, and both know they would need to doctor their image in order to win support from anyone except the yellow-dog Democrats.

Richardson is seeking to overcome the goofs that he committed while serving as President Bill Clinton’s secretary of energy in the late 1990s. The Energy Department’s lapses at the secretive Los Alamos research laboratories signaled that he was less concerned about security than he would now have us believe.

The governor recently toured the area along his state’s border with Mexico, declared a state of emergency and blasted Washington for failing to stop people from crossing the border illegally.

That was unusual and it got Richardson a lot of attention, perhaps helping to restore his limp reputation. But it does not represent his real feelings about illegal aliens, as they have been pronounced time and again during his political career.

As a member of Congress, Richardson voted against increases in federal spending for border control, and he opposed a work-verification program to discourage the hiring of illegal immigrants.

As governor of New Mexico, he signed a bill allowing children of illegal aliens to attend state colleges for the tuition rates that state residents are charged, rather than the higher tuition fees paid by out-of-state residents.

At a rally of illegal aliens in Santa Fe, he told them, “... Know that New Mexico is your home.. We will protect you. You have rights here ...”

Noble sentiments, but hardly those of someone who is trying to discourage illegal immigration.

Mrs. Clinton also seems to be torn between political realities and her real feelings. On one hand she declared in December that, “I am, you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants. People have to stop employing illegal immigrants.”

Last month, however, she endorsed a proposal to guarantee them in-state tuition rates and grant amnesty to illegals who graduate from high school.

The Democrats believe the Republicans are vulnerable on the alien issue because most peopledon’t understand President Bush’s proposals to address it.

These proposals include a guest worker program that would let the government know who was in the country and what they were doing. It would give amnesty to those who are already working here when they signed up.

It is unrealistic to believe that the problem can be solved without a guest worker program. Such a plan would have no disadvantages and many advantages.

Still, well-meaning politicians may oppose it and offer other ideas. That’s all right. But let them be consistent, not pander to the illegals on one hand and then grab for headlines by thrashing them.

Published in Editorials on August 26, 2005 10:33 AM