The Corner

Amnesty For What

Ramesh: I agree that an amnesty of illegal aliens wouldn’t do much to help Bush among Hispanics. At best it would provide a slight bump. The Democrats would outbid him on this issue no matter what–they would accuse Bush of being parsimonious and propose wider pools of eligibility and more lenient qualifications. In this sense, the issue could actually boomerang against the president. An amnesty also would hurt Bush with his base. Having said all that, I’ve always believed that conservatives should put amnesty on the table for a deal on immigration–i.e., trade some version of amnesty for genuine reform of legal admissions. The IRCA law of 1986 tried something like this (though it focued on control of illegal immigration), but it was a disaster. If I were putting together a compromise right now, I would suggest a limited amnesty in exchange for elimination of the diversity visas and elimination of the brother-sister admissions preference. Looking at the politics of immigration, I don’t see any other realistic path to reform in the next several years.

John J. Miller — John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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