Our Border, Our Integrity
There is a conspicuous lack of cultural and national self-respect among the pro-amnesty Republicans, who display a corresponding excess of a misplaced compassion.
If there is one primary obstacle to border security and sane immigration policy in America, it is misplaced compassion. If we're going to have a decent system of immigration, we need to have a fact-based, morally sound outlook on immigrants. Human sympathy is natural and good, and should extend to all peoples, including immigrants -- legal or otherwise. Granted, we are all God's children, or all special according to whatever view you may have. But the Golden Rule has been greatly distorted in its application to the immigration debate.
What would we honestly have others do unto us, if we were illegally in someone else's country? Personally, I believe it proper to respect the laws and customs of the nation in which one lives. That means that if I broke the law in a nation where I lived, I would expect to be held accountable. In other words, I would have others deport me for violating their immigration law. For any Christian to suggest that it is their religious "duty" to reward illegal conduct is quite a stretch.
We are a nation of laws. We are supposed to be a people who follow the law. Illegal immigrants have disregarded our border, broken our laws, and disrespected all of us by the manner in which they came to this nation. Anyone whose first act upon entering this country is to violate our law should not be welcome, and those who overstay their visas should be worried. Their discomfort is a healthy reaction to the realization that our laws matter, and that there are many Americans who demand those laws be enforced.
Our territorial integrity is at stake in the debate over immigration. Either our border means something or it doesn't. But, of course, some in the Republican leadership don't care about the integrity of our nation's border. Our sovereignty, to pro-amnesty Republicans, is something to be bartered away in the hope that one day Hispanics will vote for Republicans.
The open borders Republicans are essentially saying that we can increase the number of Hispanic Republicans -- by a fraction -- by increasing the number of Democrats exponentially. Immigrants today are just like they were in the past, the open borders GOP says. Here is the problem with that bit of nostalgia: Immigrants in the past didn't demand bilingual education, or racial preferences, nor did they have a welfare state to help support their families. Latino immigrants are as hard-working as any group of immigrants in American history. The problem is not their work ethic; it's their support for statist policy, and the impact that has on our economy and society.
At this stage in our demographic and political development as a nation, the growth of the welfare state is the greatest danger to our economic security. Immigrants obviously promote statist policy. Therefore, lax immigration laws guarantee that the greatest danger to our economic security will only grow worse. Comfortable conservatives are slow to recognize this: From his perch at the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens dismisses concerns about the economic impact of immigration, saying that immigrants only "take jobs" as "busboys and chambermaids." What Stephens's trite remark misses is that the (nonwhite) immigrant today is eligible for a vast array of programs and preferences, all of which add to the suffocating expansion of the welfare state.
The existence of the welfare state is not the only distinguishing feature of immigration today. European immigrants generally didn't carry the baggage of anti-colonial oppression fantasies, as too many immigrants do today. Hispanics, unlike European immigrants, have longstanding historical claims to the territory of the American southwest. Among these claims is the belief, described by Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington, that the American southwest was stolen from Hispanics and should be retaken. Conservatives need to do a better job of understanding the historical and ideological memory that immigrants carry with them into America. Some immigrants have an axe to grind, and it does no good to spout pap about our history as a "nation of immigrants" when current immigrants are profoundly distinct from the European immigrants who, for the most part, settled and built this nation.
The open borders GOP is deceiving itself about the politics of immigration as well. Just picture the election following amnesty. Would Hispanics stop depending on the government, or have less desire for the government to take care of them? Of course not. There would just be more of them voting. Republicans unsuccessfully tried to trade amnesty (for at least 2 million illegals) for votes before, in 1986. The result was that Hispanic support for the GOP dropped from 37% in 1984 to 30% in the 1988 presidential election.
The effect of a "path to citizenship" for illegals would be just as disastrous. As Senator Marco Rubio once said, "[N]o one will ever come through the legal process" if we reward people for entering illegally, which is the core of many recent "path to citizenship" proposals. There is no reason for an immigrant to wait on a long path of legal immigration if he knows that he can take a short path by entering illegally.
To expect a good outcome from amnesty today, when the poisonous ideology of multiculturalism is more virulent than ever, and when more immigrants than ever are relying on state largesse, is to expect something that is wildly improbable. We hear from the likes of Hannity and Krauthammer that amnesty is good policy. But as a matter of history, as a matter of politics, and as a matter of logic and common sense, there is no basis for believing that Hispanics will support Republicans in large enough numbers to make the costs worthwhile.
What would be the demographic impact of amnesty on our economy, culture, and political system? How many additional immigrants will enter this country, and how many of them will promote the welfare state? Given what we know about the 2012 election, what impact would the addition of these voters have? Any politician who supports amnesty without precise answers to these questions is like the man who allows strangers to trespass on his own property, take his possessions, and subject his neighbors to terrible risk, all for a fantasy that the trespassers will turn out for the best. No one who would do that deserves to be called conservative.
We have two corrupt political parties who, for different reasons, are ready to sell the country out. Instead of amnesty proposals, we should consider an immigration moratorium. In a discerning manner, exceptions could be made for highly skilled or educated immigrants. Only an immigration moratorium will prevent the political parties from playing Russian roulette with our economy and culture.