The Corner

Stealth Immigration Policy

Re: Jonathan Adler’s comment that the debate is not about the will to enforce immigration law but rather about what kind of immigration policy we want. I agree in a sense, but these are two intimately linked issues, rather than one serving as some kind of cover or proxy for the other. Those who want higher levels of immigration have been quite satisfied with non-enforcement of the law — in fact have insisted on it. Essentially, they get the high levels of immigration they want, without having to persuade their fellow citizens that it’s a good idea, and without forcing congressmen to attach their names to specific policies that voters abhor. Likewise, those who favor less immigration would actually get much of what they want simply by having the laws consistently enforced. In other words, the argument about enforcing the law is a component of the larger argument about levels of immigration because law enforcement is one of the ways that immigration levels are set — less enforcement means more immigration, more enforcement means less immigration.

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