Glenn Reynolds posts one of the most on-target breakdowns of the illegal immigration debate that I have seen, at GlennReynolds.com. The whole thing is great, and you can't get by with just an excerpt. With that warning, here's an excerpt:
Again, read the whole thing. It makes sense, and so little that is written about this issue does.
Where I hear resentment of illegal immigrants, it's not so much based on the idea of them taking American jobs. At the moment, at least, unemployment is very, very low so people aren't thinking that way as much as they might if there were a recession. Instead, the resentment is based on the idea that people who come here illegally feel entitled to demand that they be treated like Americans. It's the devaluing of citizenship, as much as the loss of jobs, that seems to upset most people at the moment.
. . .
Most opponents of illegal immigration aren't racists. Most supporters aren't enemies of American civilization. The immigration problem is hard because it pits two things we care about -- freedom of opportunity and control of our borders -- against one another. It's also made harder because people fear that immigrants -- without the pressures of earlier eras -- won't try very hard to assimilate. Those fears may be overblown, but they're real, and the cries of racism, plus the occasional bit of Aztlan-irredentism from the fringes (calling for the reconquest of California, Arizona, etc., by Mexico), make them stronger.