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May 11, 2010
Conservative columnist goes squishy on AZ law
"You can't have free immigration and a welfare state." -Milton Friedman
I always look forward to the sensible conservatism of Jeff Jacoby's writing. He has been a strong advocate for Israel and a rare conservative voice at the Boston Globe since 1994. Mr. Jacoby deserves our sympathy for the continuous abuse he has been subjected to in the Letters to the Editor column over the years.
I am therefore baffled by his recent column, "Law and Disorder." It is so far divorced from views of the 75% of Republicans who support the Arizona immigration law that I wondered if the Globe had mistakenly put in the wrong byline on column by one of its resident loony leftists like Derrick Jackson or James Carroll.
Jacoby calls the Arizona law "foolish, perverse and repugnant." He compares illegal immigrants defying our laws to Rosa Parks standing up against Jim Crow. He likens sanctuary cities to Abolitionists running the Underground Railroad protecting slaves. He calls immigration status "irrelevant" to the hiring process.
Jacoby goes as far as to praise earlier eras when "there was no ceiling on the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country"-seemingly indifferent to how different today's situation is. The number of potential immigrants is greater than our entire population, and decades of multiculturalism and cultural relativism have undermined our enthusiasm for assimilating new arrivals.
Jacoby further tries to elicit the support of Republicans Marco Rubio and Meg Whitman, claiming that both have "spoken out against" the law. Both candidates however underline the need for border security and penalties for employers hiring illegal immigrants, while they express concern about civil rights violations for legal residents questioned by overzealous police.
Rubio is quite straightforward on the issue:
Legal immigration has been a great source of strength and prosperity for America, but I believe illegal immigration threatens the foundation of this system. If I had been in the Senate at the time, I would have opposed the McCain-Kennedy bill. I believe we must fix our immigration system by first securing the border, fixing the visa and entry process and opposing amnesty in any reform.
One additional passage sums up Jacoby's very different argument:
We have an illegal immigration problem today only because federal law makes legal immigration so costly and difficult. ...Why should it be illegal for any person to come to the United States, assuming his intentions are peaceful and he is not likely to become a public charge or health risk?"
Jacoby would therefore open the borders, but he would turn away 1) terrorists and La Raza rabble-rousers, 2) people who come here to sponge off our welfare system and 3) people who come here solely for free health care.
If these undesirables are refused legal entry to the U.S., how would Mr. Jacoby propose we stop them from entering illegally? Are we allowed to ask them for their papers if they try again without announcing their intentions to the authorities?
Legal and illegal immigration both proceed from the belief that a nation has a right to determine who can live and work inside its borders. You can't encourage an expansion of legal immigration and be opposed to stopping illegal immigration. If the government has the right to question legal immigrants-screening applicants, issuing papers, turning away those we deem unfit for citizenship-how can it be argued that the government has no right to question illegal immigrants?