Immigration Letters, Con (as in Conservative) and Pro


Earlier this week, the conservative Hudson Institute released an "open letter" to President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill "Cat Killer" Frist, Speaker o' the House Dennis Hastert, and the usual gang of idiots otherwise known as congressional leaders. "First Things First on Immigration"–signed by a conservative version of the vaunted Steel Curtain defense of legend and lore–gives mad, crazy props to tough-on-illegals Republicans and Dems, asserting

We favor what Newt Gingrich has described as "sequencing." First border and interior enforcement must be funded, operational, implemented, and proven successful?and only then can we debate the status of current illegal immigrants, or the need for new guest worker programs. We are in the middle of a global war on terror. 2006 is not 1986. Today, we need proof that enforcement (both at the border and in the interior) is successful before anything else happens. As Ronald Reagan used to say "trust, but verify."…

We thank the majority of the Senate Republicans (33 in all) and the seven Democrats who supported the Isakson amendment, which insists upon verifiable benchmarks for border security before considering other issues. Moreover, we say "Thank You" to Jim Sensenbrenner, Peter King, and the bi-partisan House majority including 36 Democrats, that passed HR 4437. We may quibble with a clause here and there, but you in the House and the majority of Senate Republicans are right to emphasize that the Congress and the President must deal with enforcement first and other issues later. Stand fast; the American people are overwhelmingly with you.

Note: the question mark after "successful" appears on the Hudson Institute's web site and I'd rather not mess with a jot or tittle of so serious and profound an epistle.

The open letter is signed by a wide-ranging crew of "leading conservatives and civic leaders" including William Bennett, Robert Bork, William F. Buckley, Ward Connerly, Newt Gingrich, David Horowitz, David Keene, John Leo, Herbert London, Rich Lowry, Daniel Pipes, Phyllis Schlafly, and Thomas Sowell. Read the whole letter here. No word yet on when a Spanish language version will be done.

Meanwhile, the libertarian Independent Institute has penned an open letter of its own and one certainly nearer and dearer to Reason's long-held general stance on immigration.

Concerns about the impact of immigration on the poorest Americans should not be addressed by penalizing even poorer immigrants. Instead, we should promote policies, such as improving our education system, that enable Americans to be more productive with high-wage skills.

We must not forget that the gains to immigrants coming to the United States are immense. Immigration is the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised. The American dream is a reality for many immigrants who not only increase their own living standards but who also send billions of dollars of their money back to their families in their home countries–a form of truly effective foreign aid.

America is a generous and open country and these qualities make America a beacon to the world. We should not let exaggerated fears dim that beacon.

The Independent Institute's letter is signed by more than 500 economists–including five (count 'em) Nobel laureates–and has been endorsed by the Wall Street Journal. I hope that notoriously pro-immigrant Bush apparatchik Tony Snow puts this letter on the stack of newspapers that his boss doesn't read everyday.

For the full text and list of signatories, go here.