Can you imagine announcing to the public that your house is not secured, and that you plan on securing it sometime in the next few years - but that, in the meantime, anyone who walks in is welcome to stay?
No? Then why should we do the same thing with the United States of America?
That's precisely what granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would do.
President Bush now says he opposes amnesty; we hope he means it, and isn't just parsing words. Any "guest worker" program that grants illegal immigrants legal status of any kind is amnesty.
Yes, America needs immigrant labor. Yes, no country has a prouder history of accepting and assimilating immigrants.
But legally. Orderly. Safely. And sanely.
Consider: A newlywed Dallas police officer was shot and killed by a criminal illegal alien Nov. 13 - after police there had arrested him Sept. 11 and 16 and released him because the department "is not allowed to enforce immigration law," according to a release by U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood.
Norwood has proposed granting local authorities such clear authority.
President Bush belatedly promised to secure the borders on Monday - months after the grass-roots group the Minutemen dramatized the porous border problem by patrolling a portion of it, and after two Democratic governors declared states of emergency over the issue.
One suspects the president is feeling heat from Republicans who now realize that Democrats are apt to steal the homeland security issue right out from under the GOP in 2006 by talking tough on the border crisis - and rightly pointing out Republican inaction on the issue.
Whatever the inspiration, we appreciate that the president is now addressing the problem.
If we need foreign workers - and we do - let's accept them through a legal process in which they are screened for terrorist and criminal ties.
Congress won't take this issue up in any meaningful way until January. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., propose requiring illegals to return to their countries in order to apply for a guest worker program. We like that idea.
Still, the president need not wait. He can act to secure our borders now. To do anything else is to throw open the doors of the country to anyone, and to reward law-breaking. That's unfair to those who wait for legal visas, and dangerous for Americans who cannot determine who is entering their country.
You wouldn't do that with your home. Why would you do that with your country?