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Politicians pave way for more tragedies

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Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2001 10:00 pm

Wouldn't it be grand to be Mexican President Vicente Fox?

All you'd have to do is just sit back and wait for the big, important American pols to come a-courting.

Look at the impressive list of congressional supplicants who have paid their respects within the last few months: Sens. Jesse Helms , R-N.C., Phil Gramm, R-Texas, Pete Dominici, R- N.M., Jim Bunning, R-Ky., Zell Miller, D-Ga., Larry Craig, R-Idaho, John Ensign, R-Nev., Joseph Biden, D-Del., Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.

All were following the example of their boss, President George Bush, who made Mexico his first international stop.

California Gov. Gray Davis could not beat a path to Fox's door fast enough. Davis attended Fox's inauguration, hosted Fox two months later on a feel-good trip through California and proclaimed Mexico "our most important neighbor."

And Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes took a contingent of 50 corporate tycoons to Mexico to talk it up.Joe Guzzardi

Even municipal leaders are joining the parade. Recently elected Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn told Fox, "Los Angeles is a Mexican city."

What an amazing remark for a man who owes his election entirely to Los Angeles's white, Anglo population and the Asian communities. Hahn, who lost the Mexican vote to his opponent, Antonio Villaraigosa, might have included his supporters in his demographic analysis.

The most recent congressmen to take time off from America's business to go south of the border on a taxpayer junket are the two top Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt.

But Daschle and Gephardt, like all who went before them, are on fool's missions.

Of course, the official patter is that these visits with Fox - and Fox's multiple trips to the U.S. - are about tightening the border, combating drugs, relationship building, and working on "areas of mutual interest."

At a time when every poll indicates that most Americans overwhelmingly want less immigration, more protection of our borders and are foursquare against amnesty in any form, what agenda did Daschle and Gephardt bring to Señor Fox's table?

The No. 1 and 2 subjects were "immigration reform" (translation: More immigration) and amnesty.

Ipso facto that if the U.S. allows more immigration and grants amnesty, protecting the borders becomes virtually impossible.

To say that our "leaders" are whoring for votes is a harsh but accurate statement. The most important thing for today's politicians, no matter how transparent the gesture, is to appeal to the Latino - and especially Mexican - voter.

How else can you explain the remarkable comments made by Daschle and Gephardt?

Consider these two Daschle corkers:

"We want to ensure that those people who have come from Puebla to the Northeast and want to stay in the U.S. as citizens can do so." (Translation: "Come one, come all. Just get here and we'll see to it that you become a U.S. citizen by hook or by crook.")

"We wanted to make as strong a statement as we could that our mutual agenda has not been lost in the aftermath of the disaster of Sept. 11. Our agenda regarding our mutual relationship is every bit as important and our commitment every bit as strong." (Translation: Latino votes are key for us. We cannot fall behind the Republicans in our pandering.)

Not to be outdone, Gephardt came up with this doozy:

"The United States and Mexico are best friends and we always will be."

That must come as news to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. While America's "best friend" Fox was conspicuously absent in the weeks immediately following Sept. 11, England rallied to our defense that same night.

Daschle and Gephardt, through their press offices, said they went to Mexico to get a lesson on immigration.

Fellows, you could have gotten a much better lesson staying at home. Come on out to California and I'll show you first hand the impact of immigration on schools, wages, population growth, urban sprawl and social services.

Immigration policy represents the biggest disconnect between what Americans want and what Washington is shoving down our throats.

Now the Bush administration has reopened negotiations with Mexico to liberalize existing immigration law.

In other words, Bush wants to give Fox what Fox wants. And that, in case you have forgotten, is the freer flow of people across the 2,000-mile border, guest worker programs, and the legalization of 3 million Mexican illegal aliens working in the U.S.

What Americans want - apparently of no concern to anyone in Washington - is a sensible and thoughtful immigration policy.

In these post-Sept. 11 days of heightened immigration awareness and with the economy reeling, such a policy would include - but not be limited to - lower levels of legal immigration, no amnesty and no guest worker programs.

Bush et al should be wary of pushing their open borders agenda too hard.

The consequences might be graver than they imagine.

When government consistently goes against the people's will, democracy ceases. That's a heavy price to pay in exchange for promise keeping to Fox.

Let's not forget that Fox has no domestic or foreign policy successes to point to.

On Sept. 11, 4,000 people died because of our lax immigration laws. In their memory, shouldn't the government dedicate its time to protecting citizens from future calamities instead of paving the way for more?

Joe Guzzardi, an instructor at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly opinion column since 1988. He can be reached via e-mail.

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