Very soon the Republican Party and the nation as a whole will be debating exactly what to do about illegal immigration. Among others, the principles at stake will be the following:
- The rule of law
- National security
- National cohesion
- Preservation of traditional values
But what to do? How to apply these time-tested principles? Conservatives seem to be split. An apparent majority on the right want to get serious about existing immigration laws by effectively sealing the borders and sending illegals home. Others question whether such an approach is realistic, and whether it truly adheres to the four principles listed above.
I'm one of the questioners. I know that by taking my position I risk being lumped with GOP "prags" who value realism above all else, but sometimes we just have to ask ourselves: What will work? Ronald Reagan was one of the greatest hard-headed conservatives who ever lived; so was Abraham Lincoln. By insisting on basic principles and applying them in a relentlessly realistic way, both Lincoln and Reagan became great presidents.
In her Weekly Standard piece, "Law and Borders," Tamar Jacoby makes the best case I have seen for the Bush immigration plan. As Jacoby details, Bush's plan is true to every single principle listed above, and it is realistic. The plan would restore the rule of law, would enable us to concentrate resources on keeping terrorists out of the country, would require immigrants to commit to becoming assimilated Americans, and would rationalize the way we provide services to immigrants. It would remove us forever from the current situation in which everyone knows what is going on but allows it to continue with only winks and nods in place of a real policy.
Read the Jacoby piece, then consider my questions for those who, like one of my favorite radio talk show hosts, Laura Ingraham, zealously attack the Bush plan:
- What is your plan, and how will you get it enacted?
- Do you really think the American public has the stomach to see 10 million people deported, many of whom have been here all their lives?
- If the public is not ready to do that, are you prepared to see the Republican Party spend the political capital necessary to convince them?
- What if we fail to convince them? Where will the party be then?
It's one thing to bemoan the status quo the way the Tom Tancredos of the world do; it's another thing to have a workable plan that adheres to correct principles.
Bring on the Bush plan. Let's have a debate.
UPDATE: Thanks to Hugh Hewitt, my "blogfather," for the link to this post. I'm honored as all get-out. I have have never had 11 comments on a single post before. This is fun!