It was fascinating to watch the tango between President Bush and Presidente Felipe Calderon in the Yucatan a few days ago. Mr. Bush pledged to try to pass "comprehensive" immigration reform, while Senor Calderon put forth that America needs to "do more" for Mexico.
OK, so what are these guys really saying?
First of all, President Bush has no heart for the immigration fight. As the former governor of Texas, he well understands the myriad of problems chaotic illegal immigration has caused. But Mr. Bush, I believe, sincerely believes that most migrants are honest, hardworking folks who simply want a better life. He also calculates that tough action against illegals will ultimately cost the Republican Party crucial votes, because the pro-alien lobby demonizes politicians who try to crack down.
For his part, Presidente Calderon claims he wants to stem the flow of immigrants and narcotics into the USA, but it's baloney. Calderon actually told the truth when he said that because millions of Americans want drugs, the supply would continue to flow through Mexico.
South of the border, this immigration/narcotics deal is all about money, and we're talking billions of dollars. The cash illegals send home to Mexico and the narco-trafficante dollars fuel Mexico's entire economy, with only oil competing.
The old saying is "where there's a will, there's a way." But there's little will in the USA to get illegal immigration under control. Right now there are at least 37 so-called "Sanctuary Cities" ranging from Anchorage, Alaska to Katy, Texas. These are municipalities that have flat out told the Homeland Security Department they will not cooperate with any investigations into the status of illegal workers.
In New York, for example, many officials look the other way while immigrants, both legal and illegal, pack into dwellings, organize into criminal gangs and generally do whatever they want. On Long Island, where I live, 60 men were living in one suburban house. When Suffolk Country authorities finally responded to desperate complaints from neighbors, the newspaper Newsday went wild, calling attempts to control the illegal situation "anti-immigration mania."
The unintended consequence of all this chaos is, unfortunately, death. Last year, 453 people died while trying to cross into the USA illegally. All of them were victims of the deserts or criminals preying upon them.
Recently, in the Bronx, nine children were killed in a horrific fire after a row house ignited into flames. I have the floor plan of that dwelling. It was designed to house eight people at most. Seventeen children and five adults from Mali were living there with no fire escapes, bad heating and no sprinkler system. Sanctuary isn't much good if the shelter is lethal.
A mixture of political cowardice, idealistic nonsense and corrupting cash has resulted in a crisis that is hurting just about everyone but the business people who exploit the illegals. And judging by the performances of Presidents Bush and Calderon, I don't see real reform on the horizon.
The USA needs to secure the border with barriers and the National Guard, develop a fair, disciplined guest worker program that serves legitimate business needs, and require all illegal aliens already here to register so they can be evaluated as potential citizens.
Mexico needs to police its border and stop the drug runners and poor migrants from doing whatever they want to do.
Both countries could accomplish those things; there is a way. But, truthfully, there's no will.
Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" and author of the book "Who's Looking Out For You?" To find out more about Bill O'Reilly, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. This column originates on the Web site www.billoreilly.com.