The White House strategy is to concentrate on closing the Mexican border, in the expectation that the guest worker provisions would then be more palatable to conservatives.
The problem with that approach, however, is that President Bush's efforts to take control of the border have been unconvincing. Sources in the Department of Homeland Security say that his summoning of 6,000 National Guard troops, who cannot arrest anybody or discharge firearms, will release only 500 Border Patrol guards for actual duty on the border.
Bush adviser Karl Rove's mission last Thursday was to convince a closed session of the hard-line House Republican Conference that progress really was being made on the border. Individual House members did not think he got the job done. These congressmen have been inundated in their home districts by anger from the conservative base that surpasses their past reactions over gun control, abortion and taxes.
The consensus on Capitol Hill is that Bush and Rove were blindsided by the immigration tide and are still foundering. The fear of America being undone by immigrants resembles nativist alarms in the country's past history. The flawed bill that the president supports only spawns more of this sentiment.
Robert Novak: the Bush / Senate amnesty bill sucks!
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