Bloomberg and immigration
Heather Mac Donald:
Last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg put the world on notice that when an open borders enthusiast talks tough on enforcement, he’s probably faking it.
Bloomberg testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on immigration reform in Philadelphia, convened to counter the House’s simultaneous hearings on the costs and risks of illegal immigration. The mayor offered an eloquent defense of open borders. The flow of people into the United States is a force of nature, beyond mortal control, he said. We can no more stop the influx than a beachgoer can stop the tides. The decision about whether to enter the country and under what conditions is entirely the immigrant’s, not the American people’s.
But not to worry, Bloomberg reassured his audience. Immigration is at all times and in all forms an unmitigated boon. Illiterate, literate, skilled, unskilled—all immigrants are necessary. Without our current levels of immigration, Bloomberg said, the New York and national economies would “collapse” (apparently New York business deals rest precariously on free pizza delivery and low-cost restaurant dish-washing).
In fact, we risk collapse for lack of immigrants, Bloomberg warned. High-skill industries like science and medicine are growing faster in other countries, he claimed. The solution: more immigrants—manual laborers as well as engineers. But no country has a higher rate or absolute number of immigrants than the U.S. If other countries are producing more skilled graduates, maybe it is because their school systems aren’t saddled with an ever-growing pool of foreign students from cultures that do not highly value academic achievement and their schools aren’t dragged by ethnic politics into enforced academic mediocrity.
Predictably, Bloomberg called for amnesty for the 12 million illegals already here. Like all such advocates, he held out mass deportations as the only alternative—a straw man “solution” that no serious immigration reformer has proposed.
Yet Bloomberg also tried to sound like an immigration cop. He decried the federal government’s failure to penalize employers who hire illegal aliens. He mocked the 1986 immigration reform law that prohibited employers from verifying a worker’s legal status. He called for a biometric social security card that would defeat counterfeiting. And he wanly conceded that perhaps a little bit of fencing on the border might be necessary, though he would prefer a “virtual wall.”
So is a commitment to immigration enforcement compatible with the belief that the U.S. has a duty to take all non-terrorist comers, regardless of whether they enter in the trunk of a car or through customs? Nope. The ending of Bloomberg’s testimony thoroughly undermined his gestures toward the rule of law, making clear that the instincts that lead people to support amnesty and an unrestricted right of entry will defeat enforcement in the blink of an eye.
In those final remarks, Bloomberg blasted a House proposal to penalize cities and counties that have “sanctuary laws.” These ubiquitous laws prohibit local government employees from notifying federal immigration authorities about the presence of illegal aliens. Sanctuary mandates create vast law-free zones where illegal immigrants know that they face virtually no risk of apprehension; the zones have notoriously protected criminals as well as itinerant roofers.
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