May 22, 2010

THE RIGHT VS THE RIGHT:

Let them in: Illegal immigrants are breaking the law of the land. In a forthcoming book, Joseph Carens makes the moral case for waiving it. (Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, May 23, 2010, Boston Globe)

IDEAS: You write that after a certain period of time, people who entered the country illegally acquire a “right to stay.” On what grounds do they have this right?

CARENS: The fundamental argument is, over time people become members. Regardless of the terms under which they entered, the situation, the conditions under which they entered, they become members.

IDEAS: What does the word “member” mean to you?

CARENS: What makes you a member of society is living your life in a particular place, and having social connections with the other members of that society....The legal status of membership should flow from that social reality, rather than the legal status warping the social reality by excluding people.

IDEAS: There’s a story in the news right now about a college student in Georgia, Jessica Colotl, who was stopped for a traffic violation and may be deported because she came here illegally.

CARENS: She came at a young age, she clearly speaks English very well, has been a very successful student, she’s graduating from university. So I think this is a kind of classic example of what I’m saying about a person who has become an American. That’s where she grew up, that’s who she is. But she doesn’t have formal status. [...]

IDEAS: It seems surprising now, but I think I remember that amnesty was granted under Reagan?

CARENS: When Reagan was president, there was a law passed, this was a 1986 law, which did grant amnesty to a very substantial portion, not all, but a very substantial portion of the population of immigrants who were here without authorization at that time....There were huge numbers, millions, who were given legal status at that time....Until the last few years, this hasn’t divided so strongly along party lines. It’s only in the last few years that the Republicans as a party have been so vehemently anti-immigrant.


As a party the GOP hasn't had an anti-immigration leader since Coolidge and the rank and file overwhelmingly support legalizing illegals and then letting them stay.



Posted by Orrin Judd at May 22, 2010 12:19 PM
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