Politics & Policy

Gingrich and Immigration

His position is part of the baggage he needs to overcome.

Now that Newt Gingrich has become the latest in a series of Republican frontrunners, he is getting the kind of scrutiny and attacks that have done in other frontrunners.

One of the issues that have aroused concern among conservative Republicans is that of amnesty for illegal immigrants, especially after Gingrich said that it would not be “humane” to deport someone who has been living and working here for years.

#ad# Let’s go back to square one. The purpose of American immigration laws and policies is not to be either humane or inhumane to illegal immigrants. The purpose of immigration laws and policies is to serve the national interest of this country.

There is no inherent right to come live in the United States, in disregard of whether the American people want you here. Nor does the passage of time confer any such right retroactively.

The Wall Street Journal, usually sober and thoughtful on issues other than immigration, outdoes Newt Gingrich’s claim that it would not be “humane” to deport illegal immigrants who have been living here a long time. A Wall Street Journal editorial says that it would be “psychotic” to do so.

“No one honestly believes the government should or will mount a nationwide manhunt to deport millions of people,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

What we have today is virtually the opposite of that. Cities that openly proclaim themselves “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants put their own policemen under strict orders not to report illegal immigrants to the federal authorities, with the result that illegal immigrants who have committed crime after crime are free to stay here and commit more crimes, including murder.

You don’t have to launch a “manhunt” when a known criminal is also a known illegal alien. Many local policies have virtually put illegal aliens in a witness-protection program.

The more doctrinaire libertarians see the benefits of free international trade in goods, and extend the same reasoning to free international movement of people. But goods do not bring a culture with them. Nor do they give birth to other goods to perpetuate that culture.

Why do people want to come to America in the first place? Because America offers them something that their native countries do not. This country has a culture that has produced a higher standard of living and a freer life than in many other countries.

When you import people, you import cultures, including cultures that have been far less successful in providing decent lives and decent livelihoods. The American people have a right to decide for themselves whether they want unlimited imports of cultures from other countries.

At one time, immigrants came to America to become Americans. Today, the apostles of multiculturalism and grievance-mongering have done their best to keep foreigners foreign and, if possible, feeling aggrieved. Our own schools and colleges teach grievances.

#page#European countries have learned the hard way how massive imports of a foreign culture can undermine your own culture, polarize your population, and create internal dangers that are irreversible. Victor Davis Hanson’s chilling and insightful book, Mexifornia, shows similar patterns in California.

Moreover, in an age of terrorism, not everyone who comes across the border from Mexico is Mexican. It is the height of irresponsibility to leave that border open and the people who cross it a protected group. Punishing employers who hire illegals is punishing an accessory to an illegal act more harshly than the one who committed the illegal act in the first place.

#ad#As for Newt Gingrich, his position on immigration is just one of the items in the “baggage” he has to overcome. But what the voters have to overcome is an insistence on a perfect candidate. Ronald Reagan, after all, supported an immigrant-amnesty bill, but that did not prevent him from being a great president otherwise.

A Republican Congress would be unlikely to make that mistake again, even if a Republican president wanted to. The big question for 2012 is whether Republicans will win Congress and/or the White House. If Democrats win Congress and the White House in 2012, amnesty is virtually certain, along with other disasters.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2011 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Thomas Sowell — Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author, whose books include Basic Economics. He is currently senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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