Conservative types are truly divided on immigration. And for once the division comes down to the fact that the problem is somewhat intractable, not so much because one side or the other is dead wrong. Ultimately, past compromises and bureaucratic bungling have left us with this immigration status quo, and we will have to find our way out of the conundrum.
On the one hand – apart from a few blood ‘n’ soil xenophobes – Americans are enamored of the Ellis Isle phenomenon that marked the early part of the Twentieth Century. During that time, millions came to US shores not to balkanize and to take, but to work hard and to succeed–and in a generation or two to assimilate, to make us stronger economically, and make us more diverse. Most people still appreciate the fact that this is the land of opportunity and that it’s open to anyone with the core American values of thrift, personal responsibility and a work ethic.
On the other hand, our overly generous entitlement system creates dependency and waste. Freeridership becomes a problem as more and more immigrants take advantage of social services, which citizens must pay for. Business and corporate interests sometimes benefit unfairly from this de facto system, pushing the costs of healthcare for cheap laborers onto fellow citizens. The fact of an alien’s illegality also means that people often remain in the shadows, afraid of deportation. This is no way to encourage assimilation. Barios and other unsavory places spring up. Yet people have been waiting in line for years to enjoy the benefits of a simple green card. Would it not be unfair to these people to change the law in the direction of amnesty?
Probably. But something has got to give. Someone in this state of affairs is going to get shafted. 11 million people fleeing the destructive, corrupt, socialist governments of their homelands are only criminals in very weak de jure sense. Not in a moral one. It is time for our national leaders to figure something out. And conservatives or protectionist liberals who try to take a hard line are likely to lose, as walls and mass deportations are not only impracticable, but morally dubious.