June 3, 2007


The Fight for America's Soul (Debra Saunders, 6/03/07, Real Clear Politics)

"I'm deeply concerned about America losing its soul. Immigration has been the lifeblood of a lot of our country's history," President Bush told McClatchy Newspapers in an exclusive interview last week. "I am worried that a backlash to newcomers would cause our country to lose its great capacity to assimilate newcomers." Bush also argued that "a lot of this immigration debate is driven as a result of Latinos being in our country."

I'll admit, I've read and heard some shamefully race-tinged arguments against the immigration bill before the U.S. Senate. I've also heard a lot of people who voice legitimate fears about the high cost of illegal immigration on taxpayer-funded services, as well as how the sheer volume of (presently illegal) immigrants could sabotage their assimilation into the middle class.

I know that those who think as I do are on the losing side of history. You don't grow up in an Irish family in Massachusetts without being steeped in lessons about the hostility heaped upon Irish immigrants and the "Irish Need Not Apply" signs. [...]

I understand how folks who think as I do will be described in the future, but I do believe we deserve better treatment from George W. Bush today.

...while the Know-Nothings and the Klan were on the wrong side of History, weren't their hearts in the right places?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 3, 2007 9:08 AM

As the son of a post war German immigrant, I lean heavily on the pro-immigration side by default.

The fact of the matter is however, that America's power to assimilate is not endless, particularly when our leadership and culture no longer push said "assimilation."

If we are to have an expansive immigration policy (something which I'm not against), it should be aggressively "Assimilationist."

Importing "Balkanization" is a problem, and, as I've pointed out before, an intentional goal of the left.

Again OJ, is there any limit to America's ability to assimilate? Remember that "past performance is not necessarily a predictor of future results."

Posted by: Bruno at June 3, 2007 9:26 AM

Well, Bruno, if that's the case, you should be encouraging immigration and ranting against the Democrats racist multicultural policies. "Racist" is the default judgment of those watching the debate over "Illegal" immigration. If you want to do more then rant about too many brown people, start tearing into the INS. Easy target, and everyone wants a smaller government(Just keep those Checks coming!). Point out how Racist the immigration laws Kennedy gave us are(We are not the racists here!). Stop worrying about ethnic enclaves. We survived Chinatown, and the Land of Cheese. That was before the eroding effects of the Internet, and TV. Judge Dredd is not your friend, and he's not going to get you votes. Put the costume away....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 3, 2007 10:49 AM

Of course the President is right. I would rather see open borders than closed ones, but in her bitter, school-marmish piece this week, Peggy Noonan did hit one spot. Why didn't Bush put together a series of packages on immigration? If some security bill had been passed, combined with increased limits for certain types of visas, along with expedited processing for legal immigrants, amnesty itself would pass with 75 votes in the Senate and probably 350 in the House.

The "jam-down" is now a big part of the debate, and Bush doesn't have the capital for it to go smoothly (and neither do any of the Senate Republican supporters). Sure, the Tancredos of the party need to be spanked, but most who are opposing (or just questioning) the bill are not 'nativists', 'racists', and 'the Klan'.

One thing Bush noted in his WSJ editorial (which has not been stressed) is that we are paying the price now (including the fight over the bill) for the failure to enforce the 1986 law for the past 20 years. So why is everyone saying 'this will be the last time'? It is 'conservative' to ask such questions, because otherwise we are all little Hubert Humphreys, promising to eat the bill on the floor of the Senate, just to get it passed.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 3, 2007 11:02 AM


I defy you to find any Republican (other than maybe J.C. Watts, Rush, or Sean) who will publicly accuse the Democrats and Big Labor of being racist. Sure, it's pretty obvious, but the media will never report it. You want to fight the immigration battle on multi-culti grounds, good luck. Even Jeff Sessions probably won't be there with you.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 3, 2007 11:07 AM

Well, Bruno, if that's the case, you should be encouraging immigration and ranting against the Democrats racist multicultural policies.


I do both in some good measure on my radio show. I'll be talking about these articles on tomorrow's show if y'all want to tune in.

Interestingly, my seethingly nativist listener base is forced to concede that having hard working people come here is probably not a bad thing. OTOH, I've been forced to concede that the situation at hand is not good, and a blanket amnesty could possibly be worse - even if mostly through indirect effects.

Your usual inscrutable writing style, combined with my slow wits, causes me to wonder just what your point was.

Please clarify.

Posted by: Bruno at June 3, 2007 11:26 AM

My apologies, Bruno, for not being clear.
First, why is the situation at hand not good? Second, given the current corrupt state of the INS, our choices are: 1, blanket amnesty, 2, ethnic cleansing.
So, my point is, if you're going to tilt at windmills, and your choice is between attacking the Nazis in the INS, and acting like Nazis and breaking up families and putting children on trains, why would anyone pick "Act like Nazi!"? Do you think the policy would last past the first Bull Conner moment? We'll be on TV with the blood on our hands, and that will be the face of the Republican party for a generation. And it still won't solve the "problem". We have too many ports and too much shared roads to "close the borders". Water seeks it's level. The only way to stop people from coming here is to make the country an unattractive place to live. I wish you no luck with that.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 3, 2007 11:53 AM

Why isn't it good? When has it ever been better?

Posted by: oj at June 3, 2007 12:21 PM


Because when the GOP ran Congress it wouldn't pass them, so now you get Ted Kennedy's bill. The wahoo Right stabbed itself in the back. There is justice after all.

Posted by: oj at June 3, 2007 12:22 PM


Of course, America's capacity to assimilate mysteriously ended with each of our grandparents.

Posted by: oj at June 3, 2007 12:23 PM

Bruno, if you want to have some real fun tomorrow, add the Akaka Bill to the mix and the Pew Hispanic poll.

Hardworking, fine - collectivist/socialist - not good.

Again, so sez the man who lives in a 95%+++ state.

Posted by: Sandy P at June 3, 2007 12:57 PM

Someone posted a long time ago, if we had read what the Mexicans had been saying and writing about us for decades, the wall would have been built a long time ago.

Posted by: Sandy P at June 3, 2007 12:58 PM

BTW, CA passed a law against bi-lingual education, it's being ignored, why would the English requirement in this bill be followed?

Maybe they should add that we use $ here, not pesos.

Posted by: Sandy P at June 3, 2007 1:01 PM

The good news about immigration be it legal or otherwise, is that it is the only way our population has a chance of actual growth. If a nation doesn't grow it will die. Our current total fertility rate in the USA is approximately 2.1 children per woman.

That is exactly at zero population growth. We should consider ourselves fortunate that most of our immigrants are Christians from South America and not Moslems from Arabia as is the case in Europe with a fertility rate of about 1.5.

I have every confidence that America will not become Balkanized and that our culture will be able to transform most immigrants by the second generation. Just look at all of the Hispanic sur
names that appear on the lists of our fallen heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted by: morry at June 3, 2007 2:02 PM

Ptah, I don't think my dichotomy is false, it's history. You're the one claiming that the ethnic cleaning will go well this time. Perhaps you could point out a historical moment that supports your position?
Second, I want to see you reform the current system before I trust you with a new, bigger one with more power. As you say "the system will prevent the implementation of those tough measures".
The current system is corrupt and you can't be bothered to reform it, but the New Improved system(tm), run by the same people, will be pure, functional, error free, and easy to use. There's a false dichotomy for you.....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 3, 2007 2:09 PM

The best solution is the James Knox Polk method: annex the northern third of Mexico. Or force them to turn over all their oil fields to a US consortium. How's that for some sovereignty?


your point is taken - no one wants to make the country unattractive. However, no one wants it to become more corrupt, either. How about a 12-month freeze, while the ICE (or whatever it's called these days) is gutted and re-built (under somebody like Bratton)? OJ will scoff, but if the parts of the government in charge of the border continue on this path, there really will be tens of millions of more illegals here in just a few years, with the Left paying them to stay and sit (and vote). Kind of like the inner cities in the 1970s and 80s, no? And a bit like the Indian reservations in South Dakota?

Posted by: ratbert at June 3, 2007 3:20 PM

Thanks for your thoughts, Ratbert. Two things. What's wrong with tens of millions more? We can fit them. Second, if you have a problem with the Left paying them to sit and vote(Lord knows I do) then why not draw the line there? Fighting against slavery is the Republican way. It's our turf.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 3, 2007 3:31 PM


If I believed, as you do, that we will be able assimilate any and all immigrants, then I would be also agree with your view that either doing nothing (or some form of Amnesty) would be just peachy.

(here are some 'not goods' for Robert)

OTOH, when a lower middle class American citizen who earned $15+/hr 5 or so years ago is now unable to get a job for more than the minimum wage, I can at least understand the source of their discontent - and it isn't all "racism."

The same goes for the absurd situation where US citizens are under a greater burden than non-citizens with regards to things like 'In-State Tuition' and drivers licenses. (In IL, we have a proposed law that hand out 'certificates' that allow for 60-90 days no insurance for illegals)

These double standards are wrong, IMO.

Further, we ought to have 100% reciprocation with Mexico for all the Americans who want to retire there. A Mexican's Deed in the US is much more solid than the "deed" allowed by Mexico.

The Education establishment uses immigration to foist a truly "dis-assimilating" bi-lingual program on as many school districts they can get unders some mandate. This isn't importing labor, it's actively importing another state.

Now, if you were to say that we should dramatically increase the "allowed number of immigrants/guest workers," I'd have no argument.

Make them tell us where they are. Make them pay for the privilege of working here (sell visas for all I care), make them pay for welfare state services, and for God's sake, get some necessary concessions from Mexico to clean up and improve it's own nation.

If we shut down the remittances to Mexico, their economy would collapse in days. Hold the gun to their head. Heck, they can give us some oil.

In closing, it would be better if we managed this process instead of the chaos we have now.

Posted by: Bruno at June 3, 2007 4:43 PM

Bruno, thanks for your thoughts. To respond.
One, a lower middle class American citizen who earned $15+/hr 5 or so years ago is now unable to get a job for more than the minimum wage at the same job he was working before. The world changes, adapt or die. Get a degree, or training. There are lots of jobs out there for 15+/hr. Sitting on your butt complaining about the immigrants taking you job is racist, and sad.
Two, the double standards didn't start with immigrants and the immigrants aren't the ones passing or enforcing these idiot laws. Remove the beam from your own eye first....
Three, given the Supreme Court's ruling on E. domain, how can you say that? We've made it quite clear no one owns property in the U.S..
Forth, again, it's not the immigrants pushing the bi-lingual programs, it's the Department of Education. Why aren't we attacking them, the ones who are traitors to Civilization?
Five, good.
Six, internal passports? Little too Soviet for my tastes. Make them pay for welfare state services? What happened to getting rid of double standards? The Mexicans like their country the way it is. The ones who don't come here, because they don't see a way to change the way things are done there. Good luck doing what the natives haven't been able to do, and say hi to Dole(tm) for me.
Seven, stop people from sending their money to their families? Heck, why not just take all the money from everyone? To heck with freedom! Seriously, are we at war with Mexico? Claiming they're a terrorist state? How the heck to you sell this to America, and how do you stop it from ruining the country the next time we elect a Jimmy?
Last, the process is being managed, by the INS. Chaos would work better, and keep our freedoms safer.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 3, 2007 5:55 PM

So you'd make us more like the countries they're fleeing? Yet you claim to be worried that they'll change us. You're the problem, not them, no?

Posted by: oj at June 3, 2007 6:36 PM


Isn't the problem that the "laws" are not enforced? In my view, the real problem with the immigration bill is not the subject, but the fact that no one believes anything written in it. That is very bad for the republic. Years ago, people always smirked at when the budget was passed, but this is on a different level.

When the Dems needed GOP votes to pass NAFTA (or when Clinton finally signed welfare reform), everyone understood that it meant something substantive. It wasn't just a fig leaf. Neither was NCLB, or the Medicare drug bill. But the immigration bill is in a league of its own regarding cynicism and self-abnegation.

The in-state tuition thing is a problem, too. I'm surprised no one has challenged it on 14th Amendment grounds.

And I still find it curious that it is somehow considered totalitarian to ask a suspect his citizenship status. Gavin Newsom may not care, but once someone is stopped and questioned, that issue should be identified pretty fast.

OJ - I take your point, but that is a cheap shot. Bruno gave a fair argument, and you won't refute - you just sling the hash. Not good enough.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 3, 2007 7:13 PM

Thanks for responding Mr. Hamlen. Yes, to some degree the fact that the "laws" in question are not enforced is a problem. That is why I am on the Right. The number of tasks put before the government has overwelmed it's ability to supervise. Far too many laws are passed as a response to a passing public anger, enforced only when someone has upset the "powers that be". The immigration issue is in this category. If you have a problem with the welfare state and uncontrolled government power(I sure do) then attack them. Attacking immigration makes your side look like a Nazi and increases government power. Bad deal all around yes?
Ptah, your not going Postal on us are you?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 3, 2007 8:04 PM

Mexico is anti-immigrant so we should be isn't an argument, it's biting off your own nose to spite your face.

Posted by: oj at June 3, 2007 9:25 PM


"adapt or die?" Is that conservative, or Darwin? Didn't Nazis use similar language? Funny how things degenerate when the names start flying.

Here is how I look at it. I can make flawless arguments against the minimum wage and for so-called "insider trading." But the fact of the matter is that most people have made up their minds on these issues.

Re: immigration, it may be rhetorically useful to mix the words "nativist" and "Racist" but it only serves to undermine ones case to do so.

Even people who benefit financially from immigration are starting to see the perversities of the existing system. Sadly, the geniuses in DC have let the problem get so out of hand that even seemingly rational solutions are taken off the table by the extremes.

Though many of your (and OJs, and the pro-comprehensive crowd) arguments are cogent, the dismissive nature of the existing regime has alienated (funny word) enough people to make a decent solution nearly impossible.

I could elaborate on what might be a better path, and why I believe such, but the issue is complex enough that time and space are short for this venue. Encapsulating, my view is that we should take all we can assimilate, but that our capacity to do that in this moral and welfare environment poses problems.

I understand that there are decent arguments on the other side. One thing OJ and the Nativists have in common is the belief that there are no good arguments on the "other side." I believe that both are mistaken in that view.

Posted by: Bruno at June 3, 2007 11:15 PM

For many on the Right, this bill is wrong precisely because it involves unchecked government power (bureaucratic growth and deepening corruption) and a backdoor increase in the welfare state. It is also a direct political attack on the Republican Party. Calling everyone who opposes it 'racist' is slander.

At the very least, the argument that Hugh Hewitt has made about classifying potential immigrants from different parts of the world should be investigated. As long as the bad guys know that their prime candidates are going to get a much more personal look, it will give them a work-around. Again, why is that a bad thing?

I am not attacking 'immigration' - for example, I would endorse opening the borders for a week (a month?) and giving everybody who crossed $5000 cash as long as we could verify their identity, fingerprint them, know where they were going, and get signed statements that they would be law-abiding homesteaders. Imagine Tancredo's reaction to that one.

The American Dream always exposes the ugly faults in the rest of the world. So, no - I don't argue against 'immigration'. Just Senatorial arrogance, and Republican foolishness and timidity.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 3, 2007 11:58 PM

"The only way to stop people from coming here is to make the country an unattractive place to live."

Given that many illegal immigrants consider themselves Mexican, there might be another way: make Mexico a more attractive place to live, probably by improving their policies to be more similar to American ideals.

Posted by: Just John at June 4, 2007 1:33 AM