In the wake of the court decision against the administration’s efforts to use Social Security “no-match” letters to out illegal aliens, White House now faces a test. DHS Secretary Chertoff has said “will examine all of our options, including appeal”; if they decide not to appeal, we will know for sure that the new emphasis on immigration enforcement was just for show. I and others had thought the new enforcement push was, in Mickey Kaus’s words, a “Leninesque attempt to heighten the contradictions and create pressure for legalization by demonstrating to business and the media that actually enforcing the existing immigration laws is intolerable.” I don’t mean to be paranoid, but maybe we were wrong — maybe the whole point was to get the thing swatted down by some Clinton-appointed judge in San Francisco so they could shrug their shoulders and say, “well, we tried — now there’s really no solution but amnesty.”
I don’t want to wade into the middle of an argument over the death penalty, but if this is what the administration is thinking of doing, it’s analogous to Ramesh’s recent comment: “one subsidiary argument for abolition is that our use of the death penalty is too slow and rare to be serious.” In other words, if radical lawyers, on and off the bench, are successful in obstructing something (whether executions or deportations or anything else), we should give up trying. Obviously illegal aliens aren’t the same as murderers, but the point is the same — letting the left drive the agenda. I would counter with a rule of thumb that the importance of pursuing a policy goal grows in direct proportion to the left’s opposition to it.