The Corner

The Critique from the Left

I imagine that most left-wingers will rally behind the president’s immigration policy, especially since it appears to be a minority position. But some of them will be complaining that the president didn’t go far enough. And we should take a moment to appreciate that they have a point. The moralizing language Obama used, which essentially cast attempts to enforce the immigration laws as acts of indecency, is hard to square with the limits that he set. We shouldn’t rip families apart, he said–unless some of their members came here recently. We should give people a chance to get right with the law — unless they come here illegally in the future. To treat illegal immigrants as illegal immigrants is to “oppress the stranger” — and we’re going to keep doing it to several million of them. The policy and the rhetoric are at war with each other. If the rhetoric is taken seriously, the limits will go.

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.