The Bush administration’s guest-worker amnesty proposal for “solving” the problem of illegal immigration is all about failure in two countries.  In the case of Mexico, the failure is causal; in that of the United States, symbolic.  Vicente Fox’s political weakness at home is largely the result of his failed attempt at browbeating George W. Bush into declaring what would amount, de facto, to an open-borders policy; Bush’s inability to devise a sensible immigration policy serving American interests symbolizes a failed administration recklessly and wantonly squandered on what promises to become all-consuming warfare in the Middle East.  Granted, Mexican and American political failure are as culturally specific as the countries and their institutions that they represent.  And cynicism, of course, knows no borders.  Is it sufficiently recognized, however, that the more idealistic, humanitarian, and patriotic the rhetoric of America’s leadership, the more cynical its motives and actions?  President Bush’s concern for his own legislative proposal is not one whit more humane or “democratic” than Vicente Fox’s—not the conclusion Americans have been taught to expect from a comparison between an American president and his Mexican counterpart.  Indeed, Señor Fox’s interest in “regularizing” the status of the 8 to 12 million Mexicans illegally resident in the United States is, if anything, more sincere than that of Mr. Bush, who requires the gratitude of the Mexican-“American” community only in the short run (for a period of about 15 hours on Tuesday, November 2, 2004, to be exact).

For this reason, it can scarcely matter for President Bush and his dark familiar, Karl Rove, whether his ill-conceived and misbegotten program is approved by Congress—so long, that is, as the President gets credit from La raza for having tried.  And that is just as well for him, since, most probably, it will not be passed, for the very good reason that no one but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Bush’s Robot Republicans, and the neoconservatives seems to want this one.  (John Podhoretz is looking forward to the day when Mexican immigrants “transform not only the political debate in the United States but the Republican Party as well.”)  Under the close direction of Mr. Rove, the President has been careful to avoid the use of the word amnesty, except to deny that amnesty is amnesty; but we seem to have passed beyond such puerile semantic tricks.  (Progress!—at last?  “Every step forward is made at the cost of mental and physical pain to someone,” said Nietzsche.)  In summary, Bush would give legal work permits to most of the illegal aliens presently in the country; allow businesses to import foreign workers to fill jobs after posting them on a website for American citizens to grab off first (i.e., fast); grant guest workers and illegals alike a three-year work permit, renewable indefinitely; and allow guest workers to enter the United States with their entire families and businesses to import as many workers as they claim to require.

The right is not amused; the left, which can never be amused, is indignant.  La Raza and the League of United Latin American Citizens claim that illegals who expose themselves under the plan have no guarantee of eventual citizenship or even that they will be permitted to remain in the United States at all.  The labor unions, eager to make hay among the illegals already in the country, gag at the thought of importing more cheap labor from among the world’s huddled masses.  The President’s popularity, as measured by the polls, plummeted directly after the plan was unveiled in a burst of multicultural hoopla at the White House at the beginning of January, while, in the most unlikely quarters, they seem to be getting the message—at last.  (The Los Angeles Times, on January 25, printed an article explicitly making the connection between California’s economic and demographic disasters and the immigrant invasion.)  And so, as noted by Roy Beck, George W. Bush took a step back from his own brainchild in his State of the Union Address, where he referred to it in highly generalized terms in a single paragraph near the end of the speech, “asking” for unspecified changes in American immigration policy.  Beck observed further the relative silence with which this portion of the address was received.

We may get immigration “reform”—or again, we may not.  If “reform” does come, it is likely to be through stealth and in silence, unaccompanied by the usual bullying shouts from the bully pulpit.