Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hitchens: Reform Illegal Immigration

From the mydd diaries.

It is clear where America stands on illegal immigration and our porous borders. Americans don't like it and want something to be done.

There are three arguments that are against the oppostion to illegal immigration:

It is racist to oppose illegal immigration, rights, and benefits for illegal immigrants.

It benefits America more than it hurts America, and people don't want to do the work illegals do anyway.

Military intervention to seal the borders just won't work.

None of these arguments stand up.

Hitchens is right. The lefty moral argument that I sometimes see -- that enforcing immigration laws is somehow unfair to illegal immigrants -- doesn't stand up. It's true that foreign nationals, in as much as they'd like to come to America, are marginalized by (or beyond the margins of) the U.S. But if you truly want give people who "were born in the wrong place and were too poor" full access to America, the only fair way to do it is to actually legalize more immigration, perhaps emphasizing specific countries, most obviously Mexico.

But when you do something else instead, when you condone illegal immigration, you promote a culture of cheating. That's why George W. Bush supports illegal immigrants: because he is a cheater. The reality is, when we condone illegal immigration, we still keep people out -- specifically honest people who won't cross borders illegally. And why should these honest people risk their lives trying to cross our borders? It seems a preposterous thing to encourage. Now, you might say that the cheating being done by the immigrants is understandable -- it is.

What's not understandable is the cheating being done by employers, who are delighted by illegal immigration, because it depresses the wages of the poor Americans they employ. And this gets to my second point. Once we decide that we want to reform our immigration system, the key tool to use is the prosecution of George W. Bush's (and Rudy Giuliani's) good friends, the cheating employers.

All of this serves to protect one Democrats' favorite constituencies, and one who could use a lot more help: people who work for a living, especially at low-wage jobs.


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