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The Big Picture

Like a Doberman with a chew toy, the Republican Party loves to wave its bloody new divisive social issues in front of the electorate, accomplishing the dual mission of energizing its base and placing Democrats on the defensive. And they got themselves a doozy this time. An issue guaranteed to drive a stake deeper into the American consciousness than a six-state-wide red-white-and-green backhoe. The only problem is this particular division is so effective it's starting to get stuck in the hearts of fellow Republicans as well.

It's called immigration. And to witness the wailing and the flailing, it has reached a state of crisis. A situation building since 1492. "Can't let those damn immigrants in, they'll ruin everything." A popular modern refrain taken from the original Iroquois. And as it turns out, the Iroquois were right.

Counting the president, who is trying to shepherd through his own plan, there are approximately 536 separate immigration bills running around Capitol Hill these days. Bush's plan includes a provision for "guest workers," which is a political shorthand for: "Think of it as a five-year slumber party, and when it's over, everybody calls their parents and gets a ride home in their jammies."

You ask me, the term "guest worker" is a bit of an oxymoron. Another way of saying, "Welcome! Kneel!"

Senator Doctor Indian Chief Bill Frist has floated the most draconian proposal; his is the moral equivalent of corralling immigrants into meat farms to be ground up and served as frozen enchilada filling. Never mind the fact that U.S. undercover agents announced they were able to use fake documents to sneak in the makings of a dirty bomb across our border. All we can talk about is the wanton lawlessness of the people picking our vegetables and vacuuming our office cubicles. Besides, how exactly do you plan to build a 2,000-mile-long, 15-foot-high fence along the Mexican border without using Mexican labor? What's the plan here? To draft housewives from La Jolla?

I got to be honest. I fail to understand the fear here. "You let all these Mexicans in, they're going to take all those fruit-picking jobs I've dreamed of all my life. Working outdoors, sleeping in my car, fighting with dogs for food. Just like camping, only different." I do understand this is an emotional subject, not always rooted in what you call your logic. A couple of years ago, I was in Billings, Mont., and actually saw rednecks hassle some Native Americans: "Go back to where you came from." Talk about unclear on the concept.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free." That's not just an archaic inscription on a big green lady, that's a philosophical summons to heroism. The United States of America that we know and love. A country in which we're all immigrants. And when you look at the big picture, with California as a former part of Mexico, in essence, they are going back to where they came from. Maybe its we Anglos who should be carrying the green cards. Who wouldn't just love to take a bullhorn into the Capitol Rotunda, yell "migra," and watch Congress scatter? OK. Just me.

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