The Corner

Responding to Nadler

Richard: Thanks for yours. To take your points in turn, starting with your four “serious objections to kicking 7 million illegals out of the workforce”:

“It’s not going to happen”: Six hundred thousand people, most of them presumably citizens, lost their jobs in January, and a similar number in February. At that rate, the economy itself will have kicked 7 million people out of the work force by year end. I wonder how they will feel about your efforts to keep 7 million illegal workers at their jobs? There are many futures, Richard.

“the catastrophic collapse . . . substantial contraction”: We know from experience that this is not true. Even if it were true, I don’t think conservatives should favor the propping up, by money from the public fisc, of enterprises that can’t survive within the law. Whether their subsidies are direct, in the form of bailout checks from the U.S. Treasury, or indirect, by dumping the social costs (medical, educational, policing, etc.) of illegal immigration on the taxpayer, this is not something conservatives should favor. This is a capitalist country. Creative destruction is the capitalist way. If a firm can’t carry on without breaking the law or begging for subsidies, that firm should fail.

“I-9 verification laws”: I agree that you could drive a coach and four through the I-9 employee-verification process, and some employers undoubtedly do. Note a couple of things, though. (a) Huge numbers of employers — the ones I have watched cruising past my town’s “day laborer hiring compound” around 7:30 any morning would be representative — do not bother with I-9 verification. (b) The E-Verify system, which the open-borders lobbies are doing everything they can to obstruct, is intended to improve verification. If you are as disgruntled as I am over the inadequacies and traps of the I-9 system, will you put your voice behind E-Verify?

“grossly immoral”: Here you lose me. It’s immoral — no, grossly immoral — to enforce the people’s laws? I really think you do yourself no service here by hyper-moralizing the immigration issue. (That is not even to mention your implicit insult to federal law-enforcement personnel.) Immigration is an aspect of public policy, that’s all. We ought to discuss its costs and benefits. By writing in this style, you reinforce the impression that for many on your side, immigration is a sort of emotional cult, fired by passions originating in some place not accessible to reason. If we must make room for sentiment and morality in our discussion of immigration, why not as a sentimental attachment to the ideal and privilege of U.S. citizenship, and a moral imperative on our elected leaders to frame and execute national policy with regard to the interests of citizens and lawful residents, not foreign scofflaws? Beyond the simple imperatives of humane treatment and the terms of international treaties, our authorities have no obligations to foreigners. Foreigners have governments of their own to protect and advance their interests.

Okay, next paragraph. You chide me for characterizing the owners of businesses in which illegals work as “wishing to hire cheap, illegal labor” and being “bent on violating federal law.” These are slanders, you say.

These entrepreneurs wish to hire legally going forward . . .

. . . but in the meantime, I suppose, they intend to go on hiring il-legally, until they can get that new federal law they are “eager” for. Richard, I have been driving around for some years without tax or insurance on my vehicle. I simply can’t afford them. I am eager for a new law that will enforce fifty percent discounts for brown-eyed opera-loving citizens whose surnames begin with “D.”

Next you seem to accuse me of demanding wage controls. “Tell me, pray, what the wages should be for different job categories in these industries, since you seem to know.” I do indeed know, and I’ll be glad to tell you: The wages should be at whatever level attracts the required number of workers, without either employer or employee violating the laws of the United States. Glad to help out there.

Your next two grafs lament the decline of the Republican party in Arizona. I too would prefer this had not happened. A large part of the reason it happened, though, was the Hispanicization of the state. Hispanics are natural Democrats. They perform poorly in school, even after four generations (do a find on “graduated”). Their illegitimacy rate has passed the fifty percent mark (page 6), headed upwards. Their incarceration rates are three times the white American rate (see Table 6 in Appendix A). Their contribution to U.S. innovation and entrepreneurship is negligible (compare Figure 1 with Chart 1). I repeat: This is a population of natural Democrats, bringing with it huge social costs. Of course times are hard for Republicans in heavily-Hispanicized states like Arizona and New Mexico (the latter actually now a majority-minority state.) And your solution is . . . to give citizenship to yet another largely Hispanic population of several million illegal settlers? Sorry, no sale.

As to your closing question:

Do you honestly think that “no amnesty” is a wedge issue that politically benefits Republicans? If so, on what basis?

Rasmussen reported recently that:

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of voters in a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey say controlling the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers, while just 21% think legalization is more important.

That doesn’t make it a wedge issue, of course. The topic a telephone pollster asks you to opine on may be one that is hardly ever at the front of your mind. My impressionistic impression is that for most voters, immigration is a second-tier issue — not a deal-breaker for many, but one that helps shape the generalized attitudes, perceptions, and habits that drive voting. Since the public plainly wants a secure border before amnesty, it seems to me that a political party that promoted that, at least, would surely not be doing itself any harm with the electorate nationwide.

And since there is a strong and widespread sentiment for stricter immigration rules and controls, why should not one of our big political parties stand for that? Isn’t the point of two-party politics to give voters a choice? What choice have we had, really, on immigration topics these last few election cycles? Your wish for the Republican Party seems to be, that its immigration platform resemble the Democratic Party’s as closely as possible. What, then, is the point of having two parties? And as a matter of fact, this past few years have been the fulfillment of your wish, with both big parties pandering like crazy at the national level to the open-borders lobbies and Raza agitators. How’d that work out for Republicans?

Your argument is that with the great demographic transformation our nation is undergoing, the only hope for keeping social-conservative issues — “right-to-life, national defense, taxes, and the budget” — alive is to bolster the standing of Republicans with businessmen by yielding to their demands for as much cheap immigrant labor as they want. As I noted above, though, most of the people thus imported are natural Democrats, and remain so generation after generation. It seems to me that you are calling down fire on your own position, Richard.

I like capitalism; but businessmen are no necessary friend of the social Right, nor of nationhood, nor of low taxes and fiscal restraint, nor even — as Adam Smith noted, and as Jonah Goldberg re-notes in our April 6 cover story — of capitalism. No more is conservatism a necessary friend of the Republican party. I am very glad to be a conservative commentator, and hope to go on being one. I have never considered myself a shill for the Republican Party, though, and would probably make a mess of it if I tried it. Different skill set.

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