The Corner

Immigration Debate

Well, well, well, after getting slapped upside the head last week for raising the possibility that maybe we should examine and discuss the Bush immigration proposals at little before going postal, it does now seem like a serious debate has begun in NRO. (David Brooks’ column in Saturday’s NYT also is worth a read.) Look, there’s no question that there is much in Bush’s proposal that is bound to rankle conservatives – not least the prospect of rewarding lawbreakers. At the same time, there can be no question that the current lack of any coherent immigration policy is unsustainable at a time of war. Simply put: No nation fighting terrorists can afford to have porous borders as well as millions of illegal immigrants, including several hundred thousand who have been ordered out of the country but can’t be deported because they’ve melted into the population. Bush’s proposals, however flawed, at least have begun to get people to think about how this problem should be solved (the best course, politics aside) and how it can be solved (the best course, politics factored in). I should qualify that: Conservatives are thinking about this. Has anyone heard anyone on the left, in particular any of the Democratic candidates, say anything thoughtful about this problem? One more thing: Does anyone really think the Bush immigration plan is going to pass in anything like its current form in an election year when most conservatives oppose it and the last thing liberals want is to give Bush another legislative victory? If it’s not going to pass, what’s the point? Actually, I can see three points: (1) To get the debate going, (2) to take another potential Democratic issue off the table and (3) to make Democratic candidates adopt a position, which means forcing them to choose between two constituent groups that are not natural allies (organized labor and organized Hispanics).

Clifford D. MayClifford D. May is an American journalist and editor. He is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative policy institute created shortly after the 9/11 attacks, ...

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