Ambivalence About Illegal Immigrants


The Wash Post's Dan Balz writes today about Americans' ambivalent feelings toward illegal immigrants–an ambivalence reflected in (and reinforced by) shifting policies. According to a new Post-ABC News poll, a solid majority (56 percent) feels that illegals are hurting the country, yet three in five respondents think illegals already here should be given a shot at legit status. Bush apparently is getting his worst marks–no small feat, that–on immigration and control of the U.S.-Mexico border. Whole thing here.

As I note in my editor's note for the February Reason ("If You Enjoyed Your Christmas Tree, Thank an Immigrant"), immigration is going to be a huge issue this year. In December, the House of Representatives passed odious legislation on the topic and the Senate will be taking up the issue in either January or February. The worst quote coming out of that? Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) saying that "What would be the best Christmas present to the American people is pictures of concrete being poured."

The February issue is on newsstands now and features a cover story on immigration that should give pause to the most ardent anti-immigrationists. You can read a preview version of the story and my editor's note on the topic here.

The author of the cover story, Jesse James DeConto, and I published an op-ed on the topic here. Among other things, it makes the simple point that any immigration policy that doesn't make room for men and women willing to work long hours at relatively low pay is "not simply wrong but immoral." (Interesting take on immigration and wages and assimilation here.)

Over the years, I've found that few issues raise more ire than immigration. I'm not exactly sure why that is and I recognize that the details of immigration policy are difficult and bedeviling. But the rage routinely expressed at immigrants bedevils surprises me.