Politics & Policy

Linda on Our Side

Wait a minute — I want to be sure I get this right. Ramesh Ponnuru, who has never as far as I know written approvingly of comprehensive immigration reform, wants to tell conservatives who support it whom we should and shouldn’t include in our ranks ?

This might be funny if Ramesh’s post weren’t so insulting to one of the staunchest and most effective reform champions, Linda Chavez. I won’t make Linda’s case about bigotry and the immigration debate for her; she makes it ably enough herself. But I have no regrets: I’m glad to have her on our side.

As for Ramesh’s claims about the Senate bill, I suggest he read it more closely. What illegal immigrants who come forward and register and pay $3,000 in fines and fees get is probationary status — a temporary, interim, revocable condition with fewer rights (for example, the right to travel freely) than legalization.

But on the bigger question, Ramesh’s squibb is more revealing than he intends. Are reform opponents open to what he calls “persuasion”? Is there a conversation of good faith to be had on the Right? I certainly hope so, and I venture regularly onto these pages to try to do just that.

But I believe opponents who see only the legalization piece of this package, ignoring all the other provisions designed by and for conservatives — enhanced border enforcement, enhanced workplace enforcement, the end of chain migration, the merit-based selection system and, yes, the enforcement triggers — are not particularly interested in an honest conversation about the bill. Or about fixing the system, for that matter.

And to me, that’s deeply troubling — because of all people, conservatives like Ramesh should get it. We need to end the broken status quo, not cling to it in the name of ideological shibboleths.

Tamar Jacoby

Senior Fellow

Manhattan Institute

New York, N.Y.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”


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