March 8, 2015


The Conservative Case Against Enforcing Immigration Law (RUSSELL BERMAN, MAR 6 2015, The Atlantic)

[W]ith conservatives still reeling from their defeat in a battle over immigration policy and security funding earlier this week, a right-leaning policy group is releasing a new report aimed at nudging the GOP back toward the center. The study, which the American Action Forum plans to publish later on Friday, tests a rather straightforward proposition frequently offered by opponents of comprehensive immigration reform: How much would it cost to "immediately and fully enforce current law"--that is, to deport all undocumented immigrants while preventing another wave of people from entering illegally?

The answer, researchers found, is quite a lot, both to taxpayers and the economy more broadly. Removing all 11.2 million undocumented immigrants, both forcibly and through Mitt Romney's infamous "self-deportation" policy, would take about 20 years and cost the government between $400 billion and $600 billion. The impact on the economy would be even larger, according to the study: Real GDP would drop by nearly $1.6 trillion and the policy would shave 5.7 percent off economic growth. Researchers Laura Collins and Ben Gitis also write that their estimates are conservative, since they do not include, for example, the cost of constructing new courts, prisons, and other buildings that might be needed to process and detain millions of immigrants.

The study does not envision a new policy of mass deportation, with ICE agents rounding up immigrants in vans or going door-to-door to find them. Rather, researchers used the government's own statement that it currently has the capacity to deport up to 400,000 immigrants annually (330,651 were removed in 2013) and asked what would happen if it actually did that, every year until the 11 million are gone. They also estimate that after the government announces a new policy of full enforcement, about 20 percent of the 11 million would leave voluntarily, leaving just about nine million that would need to be forcibly removed. "It still would be, I think, a shocking sight to the American people, to have the detentions, the deportations, the detention centers, the need for the administrative end of this," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the group's president. "If you were to do it faster and have vans sweeping in, I think that would have the untenable feel of the police state to the American people. We didn't look at that."

Returning Dred Scott to slavery was just a matter of enforcing the law too.

The end of Lincoln's spiritual struggle (Richard Brookhiser, March 3, 2015, NY Post)

[W]hy would God want the war to drag on? Lincoln began to answer in an April 1864 letter to Albert Hodges, a Kentucky editor: "God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in" it.

That is: God willed the Civil War to abolish slavery, and also to punish all those, South and North, who had profited from it.

Eleven months later, in his Second Inaugural, Lincoln cast these thoughts in sonorous prose.

"Fondly do we hope -- fervently do we pray -- that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, . . . so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.' "

How far Lincoln had moved from Paine, who wouldn't tell the crucifixion story to a child because it involved a murder.

Now Lincoln's God exacted the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men in battle to atone for the enslavement of millions throughout American history.

It was a vision of implacable justice. But Lincoln wasn't done yet.

His closing thought in the Second Inaugural described man's duties going forward:

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace. . ."

God remained in the picture as a guide. But it was men who had to repair the damage of the past and establish a just future -- to do the hard work of mercy.

Lincoln's parade of verbs -- strive, finish, bind, care, do, achieve, cherish -- suggested the labor that lay ahead.

His last thought was a hope: Americans could work to make their country more just. 

Posted by at March 8, 2015 11:07 AM

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