The Corner

“Limits”

I agree with Jonathan on most of the substance, but I would object to one phrasing he offers. He says that most on the right who oppose Bush’s plan favor “limits” on immigration. He goes on to qualify what he’s talking about, so my quibble really isn’t with him. But I keep running into this formulation about how some conservatives “support limits on legal immigration.” I would argue that all conservatives support some limits on immigration. If, for the sake of argument, George Bush declared tomorrow that the US would issue 1 billion visas and green cards within 24 hours, pretty much everyone — save perhaps a few hardcore libertarian and La Raza ideologues — would oppose the policy. In other words, unless you favor open borders you favor limits. So, like the woman who agreed she’d sleep with Churchill for a million pounds, we’ve already decided what most of us believe in (limits to immigration) the question now is determining the number of immigrants we’re willing to limit ourselves to over a given period of time.

I believe in having an immigration policy. I’m not horrified by a policy that allows a lot of immigrants in, but whatever number constitutes “a lot” I would very much like for us to stick to that number. In one sense that makes me a “restrictionist.” But, again, we’re all restrictionists. What annoys me about a lot of the commentary from defenders of the Bush plan is their glib use of the word “restrictionist” — and like phrases — when in reality they are restrictionists too.

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