June 6, 2007


The Wrong Side of the Immigration Story (Jonah Goldberg, 6/06/07, National Review)

Philosophically and politically, I am on the side of every pro-immigration movement of the last two centuries. We’re a better country because of previous waves of immigrants.

But since the 1980s, the debate has changed. Whereas in the past the debate was about what our policy should be, today the argument is really about whether we should have a policy at all. Because if you don’t care about enforcing existing immigration laws, you’re really saying that you’re not in favor of having any immigration laws at all. It is difficult to think of another sphere of public policy in which liberals would be nearly so cavalier about lawbreaking.

The most important immigration policy is to enforce the policy, whatever it is.

It is the "But," of course, that gives away the game. "I'm in favor of all the waves of immigration it's too late to stop--especially the one that brought my family here against the wishes of the nativists--but this one is completely different...." But, since his heart's essentially in the right place, Mr. Goldberg ends up conceding the triviality of his objection when he says "enforce the policy, whatever it is." Our puritanism and fair play make us persnickety about the failure of illegal immigrants to follow all the technicalities, though we have no coherent objection to their coming here. The correct policy then is to have unlimited (as to numbers) immigration but to regularize it so that the millions can both follow the rules and come. At that point conservatives could advocate sensible limits (as to ideology and the like).

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 6, 2007 7:49 AM

The problem is that immigrationn law is unjust. We virtually shut out legal immigration, when we should go back to the near open borders that brought in so many Americans from Italy and Eastern Europe between 1890 and 1920.

(Was that Jonah on the mandoline btw in that Wrong Trousers clip yesterday?)

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 6, 2007 8:19 AM


If my grandmother's immigrant story is any indication, US immigration policy was "near open" only insofar as you were free to show up (in her case, at Ellis Island) and apply. There was no guarantee you'd be admitted. A hell of a lot weren't.

Now you're free to sneak in, get some forged papers and, if the current bill passes, get a "never mind" card and stay.

Maybe what we need are the same kind of entry points we once had, sort of an Ellis Island in Texas, New Mexico, etc. And in place of the natural ocean barriers, build a "wall" along the rest of the Tex-Mex border. You can have stringent border security and open immigration.

Posted by: Ed Bush at June 6, 2007 9:17 AM

We'll need Cristo to fence the whole coast.

Posted by: oj at June 6, 2007 9:37 AM

Do the people who talk about border security not get out much? I know the local area has about ten thousand ocean docks.....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 6, 2007 9:51 AM

R. Mitchell's comment is pertinent. Border security and immigration should be decoupled. Secure the borders first(barriers, container scanning, airport security, etc.). Then address immigration. Set up entry points as suggested in my last post. Starting the whole process by decriminalizing illegals already here if the inflow has not been stopped is putting the cart before the burro.

And oj, Christo? Really, now.
Never suspected you of being a closet PoMo.

Posted by: Ed Bush at June 6, 2007 11:03 AM

If PoMo was good enough for Cervantes it's good enough for me.

Posted by: oj at June 6, 2007 2:19 PM

LRA - that article allegedly from the LATimes has gone around the net several times already. I must have received it at least a half dozen times.

I have serious doubts about the veracity of items appearing in the media generally and the Times, east and west coast varieties, particularly.

Posted by: erp at June 7, 2007 11:40 AM