Originally created 09/12/99

Bush too soft on immigration



GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes is rightfully scoring points against frontrunner George W. Bush on the illegal immigration issue.

The Texas governor, who helped sue the federal government for not doing its share to keep out or to care for undocumented aliens once they arrived in the Lone Star State, told The San Francisco Chronicle that the federal government should stop reimbursing the states for the costs of illegal aliens.

Bush critics -- and even some of his friends -- jumped all over this strange contradiction. Think about it. What would a President Bush do if Governor Bush ultimately wins the lawsuit?

In any event, the governor retreated from his statement, but it took five days -- and was less than convincing.

He said he misunderstood the reporter's question; the oldest dodge in the book. But so what if he did? There's no misunderstanding his answer: Uncle Sam shouldn't help states with illegal immigration.

If the states can't afford to deal with immigration and Washington opts out, that's tantamount to sending an engraved invitation for more aliens to stream (or be smuggled) across U.S. borders.

During his tenure as Texas governor, Bush has been lax on immigration, but his Chronicle remarks suggest he may not think it is even in the nation's national security interests to protect its own borders. That's unacceptable.

Perhaps the Forbes' campaign criticism is closer to the truth. Bush's actions, charges Forbes campaign communications director Greg Mueller, "suggest a budding and ongoing pattern... of an amazing inability to clarify and reach understanding on where they stand on key and core issues."

As Bush clarifies his stand for "compassionate conservatism," we hope he comes to realize that it is the federal government's responsibility to defend our borders and it is compassionate to reimburse states when they incur costs due to the border security failures of the federal government.