There are really three immigration debates. There is the cultural debate, there is the economic debate, and there is the security debate. On matters of culture, I believe as everybody else here does that our immigration policy makes no sense if it is not directed at the process of turning non-Americans into Americans through the instruction of English, knowledge of civics and American history, and helping to instill a sense of pride and commitment to the country.
On economic matters, I agree that if immigrants are not of net benefit to the country, it makes no sense for us to allow newcomers to do harm in this way — and here, in my opinion, the case made by restrictionists is by far the weakest. On security matters, an uncontrolled border is clearly unacceptable, and a panoply of measures, including a border fence, is more than called for.
As for dealing with the illegals already here, there’s a sense in which this debate has been radicalized to such an extent that the Right won’t be satisfied with a policy that does not explicitly advocate expulsion — all other policies being dubbed “amnesty” and therefore illegitimate — while the Left refuses to consider any policy other than special-treatment affirmative-action line-jumping legalization. In other words, there is nothing our politicians can do, absolutely nothing, to satisfy the activists — because neither extreme will be reflected in any kind of law or policy that emerges even from a Washington energized to deal with them.
If a more sober reckoning of political reality does not intrude here, the Right will hurtle headlong toward schism, division, a third party and all sorts of other “pox on all your houses” actions. The cost of this is what I detail in the direst parts of my book Can She Be Stopped? — the easy transfer of power on Capitol Hill and the White House to the Democrats, and particularly to Hillary Clinton.
It’s doubtful the policies she will follow as president on immigration will please anyone on the Right. It’s certain that the policies she will follow on courts, on social issues, on foreign policy, on taxes, on regulation and on almost everything else you can think of will be deeply displeasing to people on the Right. And then, as a result of the pursuit of an impossible policy of purity on immigration, the country and the world will suffer the consequences.
The potential for self-destruction is terrifying. The potential for grave national harm is worse. Please, you guys, pull back from the edge.