Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Border War

Jeff Jacoby has some advice for conservatives: cool it on the anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric. He makes a compelling case, but --: Where_conservatives_have_it_wrong

But let someone mention “illegal immigrants,’’ and your principles fly out the window.

So when Governor Deval Patrick recommends allowing young illegal immigrants - residents of Massachusetts who have graduated from high school - to attend a public college and pay in-state tuition, you flip out. This is outrageous, you protest. It rewards people who broke the rules. It’s unfair to the taxpayers who subsidize public higher education. Why should an illegal immigrant get a valuable tuition break that Massachusetts wouldn’t give to a kid from Maine or New Hampshire?

You vigorously agree with Charlie Baker, a Republican candidate for governor. “If you’re illegally here, you’re illegally here,’’ Baker said last week. “The notion that we should treat illegal immigrants with the same benefits and opportunities that legal immigrants and legal citizens have doesn’t make any sense to me.’’

It is dispiriting to see Baker, a man of considerable intellectual heft, stoop to such shallow sloganeering. It is even more dispiriting to see conservatives assail immigrants instead of the insane immigration system that gave most of them no legal way to enter the United States. On the whole, illegal immigrants are just the sort of newcomers Americans should embrace: self-motivated risk-takers, strivers determined to improve themselves, hard-working men and women willing to take the meanest jobs if it will give them a shot at building their own American dream. Why would we want to punish them? Why would we want to punish their kids?

Look, I don't disagree that the hard-working immigrants coming to the US are often better for the country than, say, the whiny native-born progressive activists who litter our public discourse. But, there's more going on than folks coming to the US for a better life. We have a situation now where one country - Mexico - accounts for an enormous percentage of the immigrant population simply because it shares a border with ours. Mexico is not just exporting its workers. It is also exporting its poverty, its culture, even its kidney dialysis patients, with the benefit to the US being questionable at best.

To put it bluntly: no one would have supported an immigration system with that as a result, yet now that we have such a system - whether by design or accident - no one can propose changing it or reining it in without being called a nativist. That's no way to discuss an issue that touches on national sovereignty and citizenship; topics that should be so fundamental as to be beyond debate, yet there are people like Jacoby who don't want the debate at all, but would rather accuse "conservatives" (and no one else, of course) of being "wrong" in some way.

Does Jacoby look at the chaotic nighttime crossings at our southern border and think that is good for the country, or for the people walking across rivers and deserts? Does Jacoby think it's a good idea that law enforcement turn a blind eye to felons in our midst because they are illegals, a situation that exists in the SF Bay Area? Does Jacoby think that illegal aliens should be legally privileged over not just US citizens, but also those immigrants who came here legally? That is essentially the result when you grant, say, in-state tuition privileges to illegal alien children. Has Jacoby seen how some illegals live and work? Many comprise an exploited class, exploited because of their immigration status and because they are not truly assimilating into the US (if they had they would have developed a much greater sense of entitlement), but are merely living here while mentally remaining in Mexico, or wherever else they are from. Does Jacoby think this is a good idea for the country or for the immigrants?

These are not easy questions to answer, but the search for answers is made harder by the pompous stylings of people like Jacoby who refuse to see the difference between legal (i.e. good) immigration and illegal, but would rather issue pronouncements about what can or cannot be discussed.

No comments:

Post a Comment