Rule of law and other conservative principles do not allow for amnesty
Heather Mac Donald:
The immigration debate has divided the conservative movement, with each side accusing the other of betraying core conservative principles.
Amnesty proponents argue that America's best traditions require legalizing the estimated 12 million illegal aliens already here and opening the door wide to would-be migrants the world over.
Illegal immigration, these conservative advocates say, is the inevitable and blameless consequence of misguided laws that foolishly – and vainly – seek to prevent willing workers and labor-hungry employers from finding each other. Hispanics – the vast majority of aliens and the real center of the immigration debate – bring much-needed family values and a work ethic to the American polity; refusing to grant them legal status would destroy Republican hopes for a large new voting bloc. Since popular opposition to large-scale Hispanic immigration stems from economic ignorance and nativist fear, policymakers should protect America from its own worst impulses and ignore the anti-immigration revolt.
Conservative opponents of amnesty and liberalized immigration respond that the rule of law is at stake. Rewarding large-scale lawbreaking with legal status and financial benefits will spark further violations. The mass amnesty protests of the spring were part of a growing international movement challenging national sovereignty. Conservative respect for facts should encourage skepticism toward claims of superior Hispanic values. And the conservative preference for local decision-making cautions against dismissing the popular backlash against illegal immigration; it is just possible that people closest to the problem know something that Beltway insiders do not.
Since criticizing illegal immigration often draws charges of racism, few relish going further and challenging the wisdom of our immigration flows, legal or not. Yet unless we accurately diagnose the immigration problem, any legislative fix that merely converts the illegal flow to a legal one will fail both as policy and as politics.
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