There’s been a lot of commentary about the politics of Scott Walker’s observation that the well-being of American workers must be considered when making immigration policy. John Fonte’s fine piece on the home page today puts it in the context of a growing conservative populist movement.
One of the benefits of such a movement is that we may finally have the kind of immigration debate our country needs. Though they mean very different things, all politicians say they support border enforcement and oppose amnesty and illegal immigration. Through continual pressure by progressively better-informed voters, we’ve managed to expose the real differences among politicians on the illegal-immigration issue, especially on the core question of whether you support giving illegal liens legal status before or after the enforcement tools needed to prevent a recurrence are fully operational.
But most immigration is legal, and that’s where there the issues have not been brought into clear focus.
Saying that you support legal immigration means nothing – I support legal immigration, too. But how much legal immigration? More than the 1 million we take now each year, or less? And how should we select immigrants? Under what terms should they be admitted?
For too long even some politicians who are hawkish on enforcement have used bold demands for more fencing and drones and whatnot as a smokescreen to hide their support for our corrupt, cronyist, nepotistic, and anti-worker legal-immigration system.
Walker’s very tentative and innocuous concerns about the level of legal immigration lack the frankness of Senator Sessions’s call for “immigration moderation . . . so that wages can rise, welfare rolls can shrink, and the forces of assimilation can knit us all more closely together.” But the furious opposition that Walker’s anodyne comments have provoked from Senator Cruz and the Wall Street Journal, among others, presages a healthy debate during the primary campaign and debates.