In his final acts of clemency, President George W. Bush on Monday commuted the prison sentences of two former U.S. Border Patrol agents whose convictions for shooting a Mexican drug dealer ignited fierce debate about illegal immigration.What I think is interesting is the pattern of Bush's pardons. He pardoned an illegal employer early on—and then made this pardon at a time when many folks would be paying attention to the inaugural celebrations and preparations. I think what this says: he knows that his family has a major position in a party where the base is anti-immigration, but sees his job as to maintain a pro-immigration image.
Bush's decision to commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who tried to cover up the shooting, was welcomed by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. They had long argued that the agents were merely doing their jobs, defending the American border against criminals. They also maintained that the more than 10-year prison sentences the pair was given were too harsh. [Bush commutes sentences of former US border agents, January 19, 2009]
I think that the immigration restriction is actually one of the few issues where Republican lawmakers have any credibility—but if that is put into a package that will mean Republicans can start winning elections outside the Old Confederacy, The Midwestern Bible Belt and Deseret (aka Mormon Country), it will mean that the Bush family will no longer have a prominent role in the Republican party. I can believe the GOP will allow itself to implode before making that kind of populist move.