The Corner

Wading Back In

It seems there’s been a lot of serious immigration discussion here — and in my email box — while I’ve been gone. I don’t want to try to reopen every issue already debated, but I would like to ask Ramesh, Derb et al. two questions, both of which are based in genuine curiosity as much as anything else.

First, while I am on record saying this is obviously an amnesty, or amnesty lite, what if the Bush administration’s assertions (and the Bush administration’s critics) are credible? Or what if Congress makes them credible? In other words, what if, after 3 years as a guest-worker with (no right to vote), millions of these immigrants do in fact leave (or are forced to)? After all, they will be far easier to locate once they’ve generated all that paperwork, declared their residences etc. So, conveivably they will be easier to deport. Other than the unfairness of validating the efforts of the lawbreakers, is there a conservative public policy objection I am missing to creating a guest worker program? Presumably one with teeth.

Second, what is the conservative objection — other than the sort which comes from the likes of Sam Francis — to large amounts of immigration if a policy of strong assimilation is enforced? In other words, on what grounds would Ramesh or Derb oppose sustained legal immigration if we first abolished bilingual education and the like?

Before you answer let me anticipate one response I’m not looking for. One could fairly respond to both of these questions that they operate on implausible and naive premises. Do we really believe the government and the media will have the resolve to send these folks back after three — or six — years? And, do we really believe that in our politically correct environment we could rollback the apparatus of identity politics? These are fair objections. However, both Derb and Ramesh have fairly objected to my assertion that it’s implausible that we could summon the will to deport all of these illegals, by saying that’s it’s really not so implausible as I think. All we need is the political courage and willpower to do what’s right. Well, we can have that argument. But since you guys are willing to stipulate that such reserves of resolve are in fact tappable, I must assume we can get at them for my scenarios as well. So let’s just assume for argument’s sake that we can abolish bilingualism in all of its forms and let’s just assume that we could enforce the rules of the guest-worker program. What say you to questions 1 & 2?