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Dobbs: President, Congress defying people's will

By Lou Dobbs

President Fox, left, takes President Bush, center, and Prime Minister Harper on a tour of a Mayan pyramid.


United States
George W. Bush
Cancun (Mexico)

CANCUN, Mexico (CNN) -- We're reporting live this week from Cancun, where the leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada are meeting in a trilateral summit. And despite the contentious debate raging in the U.S. Senate over illegal immigration and the guest-worker program, this summit has a remarkably modest agenda.

U.S. President George Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will only try to advance the discussion among the three countries on economic integration, free trade, border and port security, and, yes, illegal immigration.

President Bush began his summit itinerary today by spending some time looking at the consequences of failed public policies. (Read full story)Although he only spent a short time at the Mayan ruins at Chichen-Itza (remember his decision not to see the Taj Mahal while in India for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh?), I hope it was enough to make an impression.

The United States is challenged as never before in the global war on radical Islamist terror. And yet, our borders and ports remain insecure four and a half years after the 9/11 attacks. Our lack of border and port security is nothing less than a failure of the U.S. government and its policies. While we spend hundreds of billions of dollars fighting the war in Iraq, we spend next to nothing to protect our own borders.

President Bush, President Fox and Prime Minister Harper will discuss border security in terms of the perimeter of our three nations -- regional security perimeter, if you will. Such a concept, in my opinion, has no merit whatsoever while the United States cannot defend its own borders.

And economic integration among the three countries? How integrated can we be? Trade with Canada accounts for 52 percent of Canada's GDP and we have a $50 billion trade deficit with Mexico. Remittances from Mexican citizens living in the United States are the second -largest source of revenue for the nation of Mexico.

The three countries, however, could not be more different economically. Nearly 13 percent of Americans and 16 percent of Canadians live below the poverty line, but in Mexico that figure is conservatively 40 percent. The unemployment rate in the United States is just below 5 percent and about 6.5 percent in Canada. While the official unemployment rate in Mexico is 3.5 percent, the under-employment rate is as high as 25 percent.

I find it incredibly difficult to imagine how three economies with such disparities in economic growth, income and labor forces could possibly integrate any time soon. But far more troubling is there has been no popular expression of the people's will in any one of the three countries that any such integration occur.

For that matter, in the United States, this president and Congress seem hell bent on defying the popular will. The American people, in poll after poll and survey after survey, are revealed to be opposed to the direction of the war in Iraq, illegal immigration, amnesty, a guest-worker program, the outsourcing of jobs and certainly the outsourcing of our security. It has become increasingly clear over the last several years that the least represented constituency in either Congress or the White House is the middle class, working men and women who are the foundation of our country.

And while these three leaders are meeting in Cancun, the Senate is debating whether there should be a guest-worker program and whether there should be amnesty for those already here. Guest worker programs never work anywhere in the world. I firmly believe that we cannot significantly reform our immigration policies unless we can control immigration. And the control of immigration is impossible if our borders remain porous and vulnerable.

One of the things that frustrates many of us who care about our country and the truth is the rampant barrage of misinformation, disseminated by such vociferous special interests, whether they are ethnocentric social activists, labor unions, the Catholic Church or Corporate America. The truth is advocates of amnesty, guest-worker programs and open borders are unconcerned about the 280 million American citizens, the men and women of this country who work for a living and their families.

I hope these leaders will be far more direct and honest in their private meetings this week. And I sincerely hope in the months ahead they'll share that directness and honesty with the people they represent.

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