For the last decade, the University of California has been trying to surreptitiously reintroduce racial quotas in admissions after Prop. 209–Ward Connerly’s historic 1996 voter initiative–outlawed the use of race and gender in California government. The most organized political pressure exerted on UC to eviscerate color-blind admissions has come from Hispanics in the state legislature. Conservatives could undoubtedly win favor with California’s massive Hispanic electorate if they declared that admission to the state’s university system should be allocated according to demographic ratios, rather than according to college preparedness.
California’s politics have been trending ever more left economically with the rising Hispanic population. The career of Hilda Solis, President Obama’s nominee for Labor Secretary, is emblematic. Solis moved up the political ladder from a heavily Hispanic Los Angeles district in the California Assembly to a seat in the U.S. Congress by backing living-wage laws and supporting union power; she walloped opponents who backed NAFTA. Consistent with the trends represented by Solis, the Los Angeles City Council is now basically an arm of the union movement. Conservatives could undoubtedly also win greater Hispanic backing if they threw their weight behind card check and opposed free trade.
If I am correctly following Richard Nadler’s reasoning, conservatives have a lot of political rethinking to do. It’s not just their traditional championing of the rule of law that they should jettison. Although Nadler provides no guidepost for which principles conservatives should throw overboard in their quest for the Hispanic vote, getting rid of their outmoded support for color-blindness and for workplaces free of political interference and union deadweight might be just as powerful a political strategy as casting aside their belief that laws have meaning.
Nadler’s post reminds me of my experience every time I debate advocates for illegal immigrants. “The government is racist and inhumane for arresting illegal aliens in the workplace!” they exclaim. “The government is racist and inhumane for arresting illegal aliens on the street! The government is racist and inhumane for arresting illegal aliens at home!” (Of course, the number of all such arrests is still a minute fraction of the number of illegals living in relative confidence that they will never be accosted by an immigration agent.) Where, I wonder, is it acceptable to pick someone up for illegal entry–on an airplane? Is there any circumstance in which Nadler thinks that the government may legitimately enforce the law? The law states that deportation is the consequence for illegal entry; foreigners who broke across the border did so knowingly and in full awareness of the possible consequences of their actions. Conservatives support immigration enforcement not out of any anti-immigrant animus but because they understand that the rule of law is the cornerstone of a stable, free society.
Nadler trots out the hoary “Hispanic social conservatism” argument for unbounded Hispanic immigration. Let’s look at the facts: The Hispanic illegitimacy rate is now 50%, over twice what the black illegitimacy rate was when Daniel Patrick Moynihan sounded his prescient alarm about the black family in 1965. Nadler and other open-borders conservatives should educate themselves about Hispanic family values by spending a moment or two in any heavily Hispanic school. There they will learn that teen pregnancy has been completely normalized, no big deal for girls and a way for boys to become “playas.”
As for the costs of our recent immigration flows, which Nadler thinks are just a bugaboo of misguided conservative whackos, Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton recently estimated the costs of illegal immigrants in California at $5 billion–a conservative number. The growth in the uninsured is driven overwhelmingly by poor Hispanics. The schools in California–the bellwether for all things immigrant–are overwhelmed with the challenge of bringing Hispanics up to speed academically. Liberal education professors Patricia Gandara and Frances Contreras warn: “With no evidence of an imminent turnaround in the rate at which Latino students are either graduating from high school or obtaining college degrees, it appears that both a regional [to California] and national catastrophe are at hand.” The United States is well on its way to creating a “permanent underclass,” they write in The Latino Education Crisis.
Nadler thinks conservatives should conform their principles to electoral realities. I’ll stick with the principles.
— Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor at City Journal and the co-author of The Immigration Solution.