As President Bush's lead in the polls started to wobble after his first debate with John Kerry last week, White House haggling over certain legislative proposals in Congress could deal the finishing blow to Mr. Bush's hopes to remain president.
The legislation, known as "H.R. 10," concerns both immigration and national security.
H.R. 10 is the House leadership's intelligence reform bill, which grew out of the report of the 9/11 Commission, released last summer. Parts of the bill reflect what the commission learned about how foreign terrorists use loopholes in our immigration laws (long supported by the Open Borders lobby) to wage terror against the country.
The legislation tries to close several of those loopholes.
The new restrictions curtail the acceptance of the consular ID cards that foreign countries issue to their nationals who are in this country illegally. The bill also sets federal standards for issuing drivers' licenses that would make it harder for illegal aliens to get them.
Both measures would be major blows against foreign terrorists trying to sneak into or stay in this country.
And the bill would make deportation of illegal aliens easier, restricting judicial reviews of deportation proceedings and doing away with exempting aliens who claim they face torture if they return to their own countries.
In short, these are tough measures, intended to make the United States safer and controlling illegal immigration easier.
The White House opposed them.
As the Washington Times reported this week,
"The White House has told House Republicans that it wants them to remove provisions in their intelligence-overhaul bill that would crack down on illegal aliens' obtaining drivers' licenses, allow easier deportation and limit the use of foreign consular ID cards." [House told to alter intelligence bill, By Stephen Dinan, October 4, 2004]
The Times quoted a congressional source as saying, ""They [the White House] have expressed desire to kill some of the immigration provisions and gut some others," and Rosemary Jenks, with the immigration reform group Numbers USA, reports that "White House policy officials met with Republican staffers to urge them to remove the provisions, even though White House officials initially had signed off on those same provisions before the bill was introduced officially."
The bill's restrictions are strongly supported by citizens' groups representing families of the victims of 9/11, and the leader of one such group says bluntly he will drop his support if the White House stripping effort succeeds.
For reasons that should be obvious, the White House doesn't want its opposition to the bill's provisions known.
Not only was the president's amnesty proposal back in January a total bomb even before it was dropped on the House floor, but the White House opposition to reasonable, long needed and widely supported measures intended to protect the nation's internal security and control illegal immigration would explode in the president's face if the truth got out just before the election.
But some of the truth has already gotten out, as in the Times' stories, and the White House may be backing off.
After a meeting this week, the House leadership supporting the measures made it clear they would stick by them. The Senate has already passed a companion bill, but without the provisions of the House bill.
The House leadership wanted to pass the bill before the election (so the Republicans could take credit for it—a political motivation, but a reasonable one), but it can't take credit for legislation that the White House has stripped of its most important provisions.
Even Mr. Bush's rival Sen. Kerry, hardly a pillar of iron on immigration himself, could ridicule Mr. "War on Terrorism" Bush gutting anti-terrorist language in his own party's bill.
White House support for removing the measures aimed at illegal aliens is frightening enough, but what's even more frightening is that there appeared to be no political reason for what the White House was trying to do.
Because the White House opposition was supposed to be secret, it could not have benefited Mr. Bush or his party with Hispanic voters.
And what is frightening about that is that it means the White House apparently really believes its own propaganda on immigration—or at least the propaganda the Open Borders crowd feeds it.
The measures the House leadership wants to enact are aimed at illegal immigration, but they are not really in the field of immigration law and policy so much as national security.
And in the wake of 9/11 and the report of the 9/11 Commission, there's every good reason for the administration to support such measures—political reasons as well as their intrinsic merits.
The terrifying truth about this administration is that even when it has on its side both merit and political motivation to control illegal immigration and protect national security, it chooses to help the illegals instead of its own nation and people.
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Sam Francis [email him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection of his columns, America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available from Americans For Immigration Control. Click here for Sam Francis' website. Click here to order his monograph, Ethnopolitics: Immigration, Race, and the American Political Future.