What is it about the immigration issue that brings out the worst in pundits? Michael Gerson proves today that he’s given immigration policy no more thought since his last sanctimonious and sneering column on the topic. His writing on the subject reads almost like a Mad Lib, where you fill in the words to complete the sentence: “(Name of Republican politician) is a (contemptuous adjective) (contemptuous noun) because he opposes the provision of (taxpayer-funded benefit) to undocumented immigrants.”
In this piece, the GOP presidential candidates are “vicious” and “repellant” because some of them oppose taxpayer subsidies for the college education and medical procedures of illegal aliens. Oh, and Americans of Mexican origin will vote Democrat if Republicans don’t start sluicing tax money to illegal aliens. As far as the column itself, that’s really all there is to it; feel free to read the whole thing if you’re so inclined. But there are two points worth discussing.
First, why have the candidates focused on state provision of taxpayer services to illegal aliens? It’s true that there are bigger issues involved, especially with regard to the in-state-tuition issue, which, as I’ve written, is really about whether we should amnesty illegal-alien kids who’ve grown up here. But Gerson’s lazy accusation that it’s all about imposing “penalties on the sick and injured” misses the point; rather, a major part of the reason for that focus is that Perry is, and Romney has been, a governor, and the provision or denial of taxpayer-funded benefits is one of the main ways state government intersects with immigration policy. I agree that in-state tuition for illegal aliens is a relatively minor issue, but it’s one that a state has to make a decision about, one way or the other — and your decision reveals a great deal about how you view the place of illegal aliens in our society. (And one of the reasons the tuition issue came to the fore in the first place was as part of a strategy by the pro-amnesty crowd to lure prigs like Gerson into demonstrating how morally superior they are to troglodytes worried about American sovereignty, their tax bills, and the ability of their children to get into the state-funded colleges they’d been paying to support — snob bait for the supercilious.)
Second, Gerson scoffs at the idea that taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal aliens are a magnet, saying that jobs are the real magnet. So, if jobs are the real magnet, then why isn’t he praising Romney for supporting E-Verify and criticizing Perry for opposing it? Because he doesn’t want mass immigration to stop and opposes anything that impedes the untrammeled movement of people into the United States. In other words, if more people want to move here than the law provides for, then the it’s the law that has to give way. If he would just fess up to wanting open borders, rather than engaging in tendentious debate over specific policies, his commentary might be less irritating, and certainly more honest.