Whatever can this mean?

When you grow up in Texas like I did, you recognize the decency and humanity of Hispanics. And the truth of the matter is, a lot of this immigration debate is driven as a result of Latinos being in our country,” he said. “I have seen firsthand the beautiful stories of people being able to take advantage of opportunity and make solid contributions to our society.”

He said Americans had nothing to fear from large-scale immigration from Latin America.

“There is an element of our society that is worried about two Americas,” he said. “Our ability to welcome newcomers and the system’s capacity to assimilate them has been one of the great powerful traditions of America. It works, and it will work this time. People shouldn’t fear our capacity to uphold our motto: E Pluribus Unum.”…

Addressing one of the most sensitive issues in the measure, Bush expressed hope that the changes would reduce the need for a fence along the border with Mexico…

The proposed fence has drawn protests in Texas, where officials fear it will hinder commerce and cause environmental problems.

“The fence sends a clear signal that we’re serious about enforcing the border,” Bush said. “A lot of these ranchers down there are saying, `Wait a minute. Bad idea.’ I presume we’re not going to build a fence on places where people don’t want it.”

The suggestion that people who haven’t grown up with Hispanics don’t appreciate their humanity and the vaguely derisive tone with which he refers to the “element” that fears a large unassimilated population are merely annoying, and par for the course at this point. But what’s with the bit about the fence? To what does that word “changes” refer? Does he mean the changes that are being made … by the amnesty bill? Is he actually suggesting that legalizing 12 million people is a reason to keep the borders open?

I must be misreading it. Even he can’t seriously be suggesting that. Maybe by “changes” he means changes in our willingness to welcome illegals into society, the better to assimilate them. But he can’t mean that either since that will only encourage more people to cross over. Or is that the whole point? For all the goofing I do on the nuts who believe in the North American Union, I’m nonetheless moved to ask whether Bush sees any limit to the number of illegals he believes we should take in. 30 million? 60 million? He says in another part of the interview, “I am worried that a backlash to newcomers would cause our country to lose its great capacity to assimilate newcomers.” Does he see no correlation between the numbers and the likelihood of a backlash?

And as for his presumption that “we’re not going to build a fence on places where people don’t want it,” since when does the president of the United States give veto power over security matters to private landowners? Governments don’t mind using eminent domain to build hotels for their lobbyist pals, but they do mind using it to claim ten feet of border residents’ land?

Exit question: Is Kaus right about Bush seeing this as his “Abe Lincoln moment”? “El Gran Libertador”? Because they’re still not going to vote Republican, you know.. Not that he cares at this point, if he ever did.