The Corner

“Against Mass Deportation”

’Scuse me, but Richard Nadler’s NRO article today, which is called “Against Mass Deportation — Answers to my critics,” is the sort of thing that makes me nuts — kind of like when D.L. Hughley says the Republican National Convention “literally looked like Nazi Germany,” etc., and the current RNC chairman’s response is to nod and say, “You’re right.” 

I acknowledge that there are a few fringe characters out there who favor mass deportation of the 12 (or more) million illegal aliens in the U.S.  But it is not a mainstream conservative or Republican position.  Yet that is exactly the misimpression left by Mr. Nadler’s article.  I acknowledge having been singularly underwhelmed by Nadler’s arguments in favor of rethinking opposition to comprehensive immigration reform (see Feb. 23 edition of NR).  But my point here is not the specifics of his claims; it is the overarching portrayal of his opposition as urging mass deportation.  That is a very damaging smear. 

I would say most of us favor an attrition strategy — whether or not we’ve thought of it as such.  I’ve previously described it here.  It would (a) target for deportation illegal immigrants who run afoul of the ordinary criminal law (i.e., not just the immigration laws) (and, by the way, we haven’t committed enough enforcement resources to do even that), and (b) deny illegals social welfare benefits other than emergency care, but (c) focus most enforcement efforts not on the illegal immigrants but on the businesses that knowingly hire them (which are the magnet for illegal immigration).  If you did those three simple things, the immigration problem would take care of itself and there would be no need to talk of either “mass deportation” or “comprehensive reform.” 

[I have not addressed this before, but I would add that we should drastically reduce the standing of illegal immigrants to file civil claims in federal and state courts — to avoid a repetition of such travesties as the recent one in Arizona where a rancher was sued for millions of dollars by illegals against whom he protected himself (after federal, state and local authorities failed to protect him) from the serious crimes they were committing against his property.]

If, after implementing these steps and letting them work for a few years, enough people still believed humanitarian considerations required an adjustment of status for the remaining illegals, we could consider such proposals.  I’d probably still be opposed — if attrition had been shown to work, I don’t know why we’d mess with success.  But wherever you stood on the matter, our society would at least be having the reform debate under far more favorable circumstances:  a much smaller illegal alien population, and several years of proof that the country was serious about enforcing its laws and protecting its borders.

Illegal immigration is a complex problem very worthy of spirited debate.  But Mr. Nadler is creating a monstrous caricature of his opposition, and I don’t understand why we help him do it.