The Corner


An Angry Email on Immigration

In response to this column:

Basically, what you’re saying is 11+ million (most of them been here15+yrs, no criminal record barring re-entry) people have to miss out on life over here, never see their family members from the respective emigree countries, unless/or they self deport because people like you posture ad infinitum on unsubstantiated expectations of failure in future immigration enforcement efforts regarding people who aren’t even here in this country today, and ignore 11+ million lives as artifacts of abstraction? All because they made a conscious decision to live amongst us citizenry by jumping the border or overstaying a visa?

Most of these people have lived amongst us for 15 years,  and don’t hold criminal records, and have contributed as much to life here as you and I have.

How much longer do these individuals have to be treated like tin cans with expiry dates two decades henceforth?
They have lives. Holding that essence of time in a human being’s life hostage to satisfy your punditry-infused audience, or phony policy chop-jollies is unbecoming.
You have provided no substantive, econometric, qualitative evidence; other than to give your preferred political body(the GOP primary audience and their political overlords) a cop-out for bigotry.
For every Borjas, there are many more Giovanni Peris, Skocpols, etc.
I’m an Indian immigrant, with a PhD in applied mathematics from a top twenty-five ranked west coast university.
I’m more skilled than you could ever be, so it’s quizzical to hear you wax lyrical about “high skilled” people like me.
I’ll always have more respect for undocumented immigrants generally speaking, than individuals like you, who lucked out through family and posture in society by hurting other immigrant families.
You don’t understand family. You just posture.

None of the ad hominem stuff here is worth addressing. As for the rest of it: The widespread concern that immigration laws will not be enforced is based on decades of nonenforcement and under-enforcement, especially at the workplace. There is no moral obligation to extend legal status or citizenship to people who voluntarily came to or stayed in this country illegally; hence the widespread intuition that people who came here as minors have a stronger claim. So it is not unjust to condition such legalization on the implementation of measures that will build confidence in enforcement.

And even if I am wrong about both of these points — if we should have full confidence that immigration laws will be enforced in the future, and we are morally obligated to provide legal status to most illegal immigrants — my political analysis stands. Mass legalization is not going to happen anytime soon so long as concern about enforcement is widespread, and telling people they are wicked and dumb for having that concern isn’t going to change that.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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