The Corner


I’m perfectly happy to concede, Jonathan, that Bush believes in his amnesty proposal. I believe that is true. But there are certainly political arguments being made for it that make it understandable for conservatives opposed to it to ascribe base motives to it. As for not all conservatives feeling betrayed, I am sure this is true–and more true among conservative journalists, think-tankers, law professors, and the like. Your average conservative voter is much more likely to be on the restrictionist side of this debate.

I haven’t noticed the stealing-American-jobs argument being made here, but whether or not it has I disagree with it. It would be nice to find a proponent of the amnesty plan, other than Alan Reynolds, who is willing to concede that the argument about “jobs Americans aren’t willing to do” is bad economics.

One interesting implication of Jonathan’s remarks: It seems to suggest that views of illegal immigration per se, and the importance of enforcing the law, play no role here. Either proponents of high levels of legal immigration don’t care about these things, or opponents care about them only as a cover for their opposition to mass legal immigration, or both. I think this may, again, be more true among conservative elites than among conservatives at large. I think a fair number of people are offended by the rewarding-lawbreaking aspect of this plan.

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.


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