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Susan Estrich
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Stunt Season


Trying to make news over the holiday weekend and trying to avoid the attention being paid to the latest gaffe from Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele (who is "the gift that keeps on giving," according to former Democratic National Committee Chair and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell), Republican leaders put out the story that the president needs to take a trip to the border to see just how dangerous it is.

The only thing that could be more of a stunt than his taking that trip is the Republicans' call for him to do so.

However dangerous the border is — or isn't — the president would certainly not find out by going there. It's the job of the Secret Service to see to that. The Mexican gangs who have been killing each other, the irresponsible coyotes who take people's money and risk their lives — you can be sure they wouldn't be anywhere near the president.

Immigration reform is not going to pass in this Congress. Everyone knows that. A majority of Democrats support legislation to address both border security and the status of the 11 million people who live in this country but do not have papers: undocumented residents, as Democrats call them; illegal aliens, as Republicans prefer. But a majority of Democrats is not enough to pass anything in the Senate. There is not a single Republican vote there right now for doing what former Republican President George W. Bush tried to do just a few short years ago. And with no Republican support, nothing will happen.

The president is giving speeches about immigration not because he is pushing a bill, but to explain to Hispanic voters why he isn't.

The Republicans are making a fuss about a trip to the border not because they really want the president to go, but because they want to lay people's fears about border violence on the president's doorstep.

This is not about policy, not at all.

This is about politics. Most stunts are.

If you're for comprehensive reform, you talk about providing a path to legalization. If you're against it, you talk about amnesty. Most people believe in the rule of law: that people who come here legally, who follow the rules and wait their turn, should be at the head of the line. Why reward those who violate the law?

Then you tell them the story of a mother whose children were born in the United States, who are themselves citizens, whose oldest son is serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they say yes, well, that's different. You tell them the story of young adults who came here as children and have lived their entire lives in this country, who are working hard, going to school, paying taxes, and they agree that of course we should not deport the high school valedictorian because his parents brought him here "illegally" as a child.

It's easy to wrap ourselves in the rule of law in the abstract. It's much harder when you hear stories — like the stories of so many of our grandparents and great-grandparents — of people who came to this country because they wanted a better life for their children, who worked hard and obeyed the law and paid their taxes and risked their lives so they could cut our grass or care for our children and offer their own children a better life.

The only way to address the immigration issue fairly is if we can put partisan politics aside, stop posturing, stop scoring points with language and stunts, and try to work together on a solution. That won't happen in an election season, no chance. But let's at least say no to all the stunts — and stunts about stunts.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



9 Comments | Post Comment
It is not about Republicans and Democrats. It is about Americans and criminal invaders. This is OUR country. We have laws. If they are not obeyed, consequences follow. Americans arise and defend your country or lose it!
Comment: #1
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Jul 7, 2010 3:38 AM
Ms. Estrich, I enjoy your articles and they do make me think outside my small and well worn box, which tends to be conservative and old fashioned. Let's assume that you are right and nothing will get done politically. Unfortunately plenty is getting done in the real world, here in Texas and other boarder states. While the politicians dither, undocumented/illegal folks continue to come across the boarder every day. Anchor babies continue to become a cause for extended family citizenship, and along with the hard working folks come the criminals, gangs and drugs. Can't we at least agree to stop the hemoraging at the boarder? Can't we at least agree to stop the problem from getting worse while the politicians, of both parties, resolve or fail to resolve the deeper issue. I'm not a smart or well educated person but it seems to me if the ship was taking on water my first priority would be to stop the leak and then worry about what caused it.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Ed
Wed Jul 7, 2010 6:51 AM
You are obfuscating the issue by drawing in all the hard working LEGAL immigrants into your story. My in-laws came to this country in 1973 legally. I have a client that has lost his green card three times because of how disfunctional ICE (and INS prior to the name change) has been.
We don't need "comprehensive immigration reform." We don't need "comprehensive" anything from our government. That is what gave us the Tax Act of 1986, TARP, STIMULUS I, and the 2,000+ page Comprehensive Health Care Reform. That is why $10 billion to aid teachers' unions is part of the "war spending bill." Why not just let every issue pass or fail on its own? Why "Comprehensive?"
How about enforcing the laws that are already on the books - like the ones Arizona mimiced in their bill? How about passing the issues that are slam dunk for EVERYONE - border security is at the top of the list. Democrats refuse without "comprehensive reform." That is bogus. Just pass what can pass and get it done. Fix the problems at ICE to make legal immigration more streamlined and get rid of the backlog of idiot issues.
Then we can address the immigrants that are here illegally. Stop the flow, streamline the LEGAL process and then see where we go.
Comment: #3
Posted by: lvtaxman
Wed Jul 7, 2010 8:57 AM
Oh - and I forgot one other item -

Tell the President to quit making up history to fit his agenda. I read 1984 and he seems to us it as his playbook.
Comment: #4
Posted by: lvtaxman
Wed Jul 7, 2010 9:01 AM
Susan, how about commenting on why the Obama administration is trying to block Arizona from taking away the business license of employers found guilty of hiring illegal aliens? If illegal jobs dry up, fewer illegals will want to cross the border. Also, why not deploy the National Guard to arrest and incarcerate the coyotes who are paid grotesque amounts of money to bring these poor people through the desert. If the jobs dry up and the "tour guides" disappear, the border crossings will be almost all the criminal element that even the Democrats seeking new voters don't want in the US.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Lesley Barnard
Wed Jul 7, 2010 10:34 AM
Susan, for every wonderful story of how an illegal immigrant has done well there are 15 of those who have done wrong. Under Reagan we gave Amnesty and here we are again. We have Guerilleros who come over the border from El Salvador and head gangs because all they know is how to kill and many who come here for jobs but don't spend or invest in the USA but send everything home. Mexico points a finger at us and calls us the "bad" guys. Mexican citizens who are here illegally should not be marching here but down there demanding jobs, healthcare and education. Mexico just wants dollars to float over to them so they can continue to abuse their citizens and not provide the basics. We should be pointing the finger at Mexico and THEIR people should be demanding those things they want from the USA from their OWN country.
Comment: #6
Posted by: barbara
Wed Jul 7, 2010 2:44 PM
If someone came here as a child, but is not a citizen and has no green card, how can they be working hard and paying taxes? In order to work (legally) you must have a valid tax ID number. Yes it's sad that children have to suffer for the crimes of their parents, but if we had enforced the law, this wouldn't have happened.
Comment: #7
Posted by: pb1222
Thu Jul 8, 2010 5:34 AM
Dear Ms. Estrich,

What exactly do you have against coyotes, comparing them with Mexican drug gangs?

Nuff Said...Dennis
Comment: #8
Posted by: Dennis
Thu Jul 8, 2010 8:41 AM
No Susan the greater and more dangerous (at least to those Americans in border areas) political stunt is the Obama backed Justice Department stunt suit against Arizona, a stunt that is intended to simply pander to the Hispanic vote in order to bolster the Prince of Fools' plummeting approval ratings amongst that section of the population. Even the most cursory read of the stunt suit will show that the so called preemption based suit actually bolsters and supports precisely what the junior Senator from Arizona declared regarding his meeting with Obama the Clown Prince, to wit that it was the present Administration's policy not to enforce border security, because if it did so, there would be no need for comprehensive immigration reform. The Justice Department says it slightly differently using weasel words like "balanced administration of the immigration laws" to say that because the Clown Prince has no intention of enforcing immigration law Arizona should not. It is remarkable that Gates the court jester half wit voice of the Administration was caught dumbfounded and tongue tied when asked why, if the Clown Prince, was so against a patchwork of immigration laws that, he was not prepared to do anything about the "Sanctuary Cities" that openly defy Federal law but chose instead to fight Arizona because it was endeavouring for the safety of its population to enforce existing Federal law. The choice made by the Clown Prince speaks volumes as to his loathing of America and his loathing of State's rights.
Comment: #9
Posted by: joseph wright
Thu Jul 8, 2010 8:06 PM
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