By Lou Dobbs
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Editor's note: Lou Dobbs' commentary appears every Wednesday on CNN.com.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- President Bush has spent the past six days in Central and South America pushing his view that what he calls free trade is the solution for millions who live in poverty south of our border.
That was the idea behind the North American Free Trade Agreement. This president's father truly believed that NAFTA was only the beginning of a hemispheric free-trade area that would stretch from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego. But it all went horribly wrong.
Now almost a decade and a half later, the United States has lost a million jobs as a direct result of NAFTA, manufacturing wages in Mexico have declined, and illegal immigration to the United States, primarily from Mexico, now poses a national crisis for both nations. And instead of investing hundreds of billions of dollars in our hemisphere, corporate America has carried out the greatest transfer of wealth and knowledge to Communist China in the history of nations.
Our president told the Guatemalan people that the American people "need to be persuaded" that the U.S. government takes seriously its responsibility to secure our national borders before passing so-called comprehensive immigration reform. I almost got sick to my stomach as I heard President Bush try to explain that he couldn't just throw the borders wide open because his foolish fellow citizens truly believe that their president has first an obligation to secure the nation and the safety of all Americans.
This administration seems to believe "persuasion" of the American people is a sufficient response to every challenge, rather than a straightforward resolution of issues. And this from the president that likes to call himself The Decider. I think even he now realizes that's only true in the most limited sense.
The president concluded his trip in Mexico, where he met with President Felipe Calderon. And for the first time in more than five years, I can honestly say the Mexican government is doing a few things right. President Calderon, in office less than four months, has strongly challenged the drug cartels wreaking havoc in Northern Mexico and even sent a dozen drug cartel and gang leaders to the United States to stand trial.
Calderon has shown every sign of trying to clamp down on crime and violence, reasserting federal police power and strengthening Mexico's drug laws. He has sent federal police and the military to eight of the nation's 31 states to stop the escalating violence that could tear apart his country.
President Calderon promises that drug cartel threats to his administration will not stop his crackdown on drugs, crime and violence. And President Bush should demand an equally vigorous attack on the cartels north of the border and expend every U.S. effort to eradicate drug traffic on our southern border. It's as if this president, who has refused to secure our borders, is indifferent to potential terrorist threats, illegal immigration and the fact that the vast majority of methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine and heroin enter the United States from Mexico.
I hope our president understands that the American people want more than his efforts at persuasion on our national border security, illegal immigration and drug trafficking crises. We want real action, real results.
And welcome home, Mr. President.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.