Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Illegal Immigration: When Will Some Conservatives Leave Neverland?

As a solid Republican conservative, I find myself in a position that is unusual for me: I think many of my fellow Republicans are stubbornly committed to a policy that is essentially a pipe dream.

The issue is what to do about the 11 million illegal immigrants here in the United States. The pipe dream is that somehow, those 11 million people can be forced to leave the USA. Many intelligent, thoughtful conservatives seem to buy into this idea; even Scott Johnson at Power Line seems to accept it.

Tamar Jacoby, one of the most thoughtful writers on illegal immigration, frames the issue in the August 15 issue of the Weekly Standard:

As [Senator John] Cornyn described the challenge recently . . . "We have to find some way to transition this population into legal status." Everyone who's serious about fixing the status quo agrees: We cannot build a new, lawful immigration system on top of an illegal foundation, cannot deliver control and legality unless we eliminate our vast underground economy. For our own sake--for reasons of national security and the rule of law--we must come to terms with this shadow world. But we cannot realistically compel 11 million people to leave the country: American business depends on them, and the American public is not going to stomach their forcible deportation. Besides, after years--sometimes decades--in the United States, many of these workers have put down roots, buying homes and businesses, giving birth to children who are citizens. As even Cornyn recognizes (in his speeches, if not in his bill), punitive demands that they go home will only drive them further underground.
There is nothing like a consensus yet on how to handle this conundrum: One man's answer is still another man's amnesty. But sooner or later we all will have to face the fact that most of the 11 million are here to stay, and it is in our interest as much as theirs for us to find a way for them to do so legally. There is simply no practical alternative. The only real question before us is how to structure the transition.
Strong words, but so far I have not heard a serious response. For example, Laura Ingraham, of whom I am a great fan and whose show I love, consistently insists on the blinkered approach: Send them home and seal the borders. Many others seem to agree. Scott at Power Line suggests that Edward Erler is the voice of the opposition to Jacoby's view, but the Washington Times piece Scott refers to seems to be simply about the impending dilution of American culture by uncontrolled immigration-- again, stating the problem well, but not offering a solution. Erler does the same thing here and here. Not a proposed solution in sight.

Tamar Jacoby suggests that there is hope for some convergence of opposing approaches- the McCain-Kennedy bill and the Cornyn-Kyl bill in the Senate. McCain-Kennedy, not surprisingly, takes a questionable approach, about which I have commented here. Cornyn-Kyl is much more plausible. Jacoby suggests that out of the two bills a compromise will arise, and we will at last have a workable solution to the problem.

What worries me is that there are so many Republicans who insist on "deport them and seal the borders." It seems to me that if Republicans are going to be a successful majority party, we have to have serious approaches to the major issues of our time. Neither Laura Ingraham's nor Edward Erler's approaches can be taken seriously; yet serious thinkers like Power Line's authors do seem to think those approaches embody some semblance of a solution to the problem.

President Bush has proposed an outline for such a serious approach, and it has produced a great deal of screaming and yelling about the "rule of law." I have yet to see, however, a serious alternative proposed by the vociferous critics of the President's approach.

If you're interested, I've blogged away at this subject for some time, and a list of many of my more, well, provocative posts is here.

Fire away!

UPDATE: Commenter Bradley Hale says:

That is so September 10, 2001. We have to seal the borders to keep the terrorists out. That way we can fight the terrorists over somewhere else rather than here. You are either with us or against us hedgehog.
Bradley, I'm strongly in favor of enforcing the borders. So is Tamar Jacoby. If you read some of my earlier posts, you'll see that. Take a look at this one, entitled "Illegal Immigration: Why It Should Keep President Bush Awake at Night." Controlling the borders is the essence of good immigration policy, and the terrorist threat makes that an urgent matter. The question I'm addressing is, What do we do about the illegals already here? That's the one for which too many conservatives seem to have no answer.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is so September 10, 2001. We have to seal the borders to keep the terrorists out. That way we can fight the terrorists over somewhere else rather than here. You are either with us or against us hedgehog. 

Posted by Bradley Hale

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 9:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your concerns about the mob of meso-Americans here illegally is a little misplaced. FIRST, we must put a one-way valve on the borders, allowing egress while blocking ingress to the USA.

After that has been settled, we can then face up to the illegals present here now.

My old experience with them was in Central Texas in the 1970s. The old yellow school bus from the INS road through town headed south every week or so. It was easy to spot, because it had some bars across the windows, so they didn't leave at the next traffic light. The problems are now larger. I think all Air National Guard units with transports should make weekend trips from east of the Rockies to McAllen, Texas, where they can march them back across the border. It would be good for the fly boys to have experience in a mode that would benefit the nation.

The price of fruits and vegetables will go up. But the price in the field is a small fraction of the cost of produce in the supermarket. For lawn care and chicken plucking, we will either get more exercise or spend more money on meat, too. We will survive the changes in food costs and save on tax bills. 

Posted by Jim McMurry

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 4:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep at it. I'm in your camp. Stricter enforcement of our current immigration laws, tougher fines and penalties for large scale infractions of knowingly hiring/employing illegals, and, most importantly, tighter control of our borders... (both in bound and outbound traffic)

A few years of solid border and immigration enforcement will give us a better handle and perspective on confronting the issues to deal with the approx 11 million illegals already here.

As you've stated repeatedly, and rightfuly so, we can't kick 'em all out and we can't allow them to stay here untethered from our institutions, systems, governance, or society as a whole.

There are countless variables to solving the illegal immigration and border security problems. They must all pass through the fires and anvils of national security, firm legislation, economic security and vitality, and, our great history as the ultimate destination for dreams of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Carry on Hedgehog! You're doing a yoeman's job here in keeping this issue afloat. I'll also add that you're doing so with the utmost class and respectability.


Posted by Wagonboy

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 6:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad we did not take this approach to the Klan lynching blacks or the Mob shaking down local business. Was it difficult, and at times and places unpopular, to fight each of these illegal activities? Yes it was, but it was also critical to maintaining the rule of law. Guess I have to throw in with the "pipe dreamer" on this one Hedge. 

Posted by Mark

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 8:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark: Your point is a good one, but I think there is a huge difference between the evils you cite and the problem of illegal immigration. Deporting illegals is not the same as prosecuting and jailing mafioso or klansmen. Besides, please understand that I am not talking about tolerating illegality; I'm simply saying that mass deportation is not a serious solution. You and I want the same thing; it's on how we get there that we differ. Thanks for commenting! 

Posted by The Hedgehog

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 9:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I probably agree with Wagonboy in that “stricter enforcement of our current immigration laws, tougher fines and penalties for large scale infractions of knowingly hiring/employing illegals, and, most importantly, tighter control of our borders” is necessary. And this has to come first or else everything else concerning the illegals, that even smells like an amnesty, will cause another peak inrush.

We do have an American culture to protect, believe it or not, and everything I have read, see and hear tells me that we could not easily assimilate this vast number of “immigrants” even if we did not has this multicultural PC attitude amongst those who establish our national policies. But there is no way we could “kick” them out without severely tearing apart our society. Not because of who would do the job they do, but because many are part of America with roots and American born children; i.e. citizens. The Cornyn-Kyl proposal seems the most logical combination of carrots and sticks I have heard.

The other little thing that keeps popping up in my thoughts is the reality that some of our present illegals and legal immigrants from our southern exposure are pushing for nullification of the gains from the war of 1846. We most certainly have valid concerns about Islamic terrorists crossing our southern border, but I also worry a bit about a possible future insurrection concerning the return of the southwestern lands to Mexico. The Islamic terrorists lay claim to Spain, why not a similar claim to the southwest by La Reconquista as exemplified by the Brown Berets, maybe with assistance from MS-13, the Zetas and al Qaeda.

Hey, I’m just an old Traditionalist/Republican/Libertarian military veteran who has learned over the years to look at worse case scenarios. If we keep putting off this problem with illegals I most likely won’t be around when the fur begins to fly, but my children and grandchildren will.

Posted by Al Reasin

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 10:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your pieces on this subject. Very insightful. I agree that "rounding them up and shipping them off" is not a viable solution. Not only is it impractical (logistics, economics, etc.), but it would never gain approval of the masses (not to mention law makers).

I'm for securing the borders, and dealing with the remaining illegals on a case-by-case basis. For example, those that commit violent/major crimes. I believe those people should be packed up and sent home after dealing with our legal system. Assuming the borders are secured, they won't be "repeat business". 

Posted by Bonjo

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 8:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the average person in this country would disagree with mass deportations, but you want to start the negotiations with waiving the white flag. Punitive fines, stiff administrative fees for the paperwork havoc they are causing (forteiture of all SS accounts earned while illegal, for example) coupled with a realistic guest worker program to replace those who are forced out would help rebalance the equation.
I'd also like to speculate about the future. If we do get a non-discriminatory guest worker program, I would not be surprised to see the current Mexican tidal wave replaced by Chinese men leaving a country where they outnumber women 7 to 1. 

Posted by wayne

Thursday, August 11, 2005 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Before deciding what to do with the illegals already here the border must be controlled. Once that is done we will have another amnesty program for the illegals here now, nothing else would work. After this one, we must control the border. We problbly should at least censure Alan Simpson of Utah, he gave us the last amnesty program and promised that we would never need another one. Respectfully submited, Byron... 

Posted by Byron D. Cagle

Thursday, September 15, 2005 2:22:00 PM  

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