Immigration

Dose Dems on Immigration

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The Wash Times is carrying a pretty weak story about how the leading Dem presidential candidates are "for" immigration, including allowing illegals to become citizens, and how they all know this will cost them votes. But hey, aren't pols all about principles rather than pandering?

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who's about as pro-immigrant as you can get in either major party, says, "It's a bad vote [being in favor of letting illegals become citizens]. It loses you votes. I've never found anybody that won on immigration." That's dubious to begin with, but what Richardson might have done was point to a couple of midterm elections from his part of the country (well, Arizona), where GOP anti-immigrant candidates (J.D. Hayworth, Randy Graff) got their asses kicked. Surely, their hyper-restrictionist views on immigration were a major factor. As Dave Weigel pointed out, those losers were not alone in being losers when it came to immigration.

One reason: a vast majority of Americans–78 percent, in a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll–feel that illegals who are already here should be eligible for some form of amnesty. Indeed, even in the Wash Times article cites a Univ. of Iowa poll of likely caucus-goers in the Hawkeye State found that "among both Republicans and Democrats, more than half of likely caucus-goers said they supported allowing 'undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain criteria like learning English and paying back taxes.'"

So pols can relax about being pro-illegal immigrants getting citizenship in some way. Or rather, stop posturing that they are being brave when in fact they are supporting a very popular policy.

Wash Times story here.

Reason's reality-based guide to immigration policy here.

NEXT: Klosterman on Drugs

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  1. Streamlining the path to citizenship would go a long way towards improving the situation. But far better would be to allow people to come and go freely. People should be allowed to come here to work and return home when they want without becoming citizens.

  2. A look at issues polls during the 2002 and 2004 campaigns should be enough to convince you that agreeing with the policies the public supports when they really think about the issues is not the same thing as securing your election. To a lot of people, issues are useful primarily as an illustration of a politician’s values, and people vote based on values.

    African-American voters may tend agree more with Republicans than with Democrats on religious and moral issues, like prayer in schools or gay marriage, but Republicans still get their heads handed to them among these voters, because the way they talk about liberals, gay people, or whatever “out” group they choose to pick on sounds a lot like how many conservatives used to (to be generous) talk about black people.

    On a rational level, the public agrees with a “path to citizenship,” but on a pre-rational level, such a position can leave a candidate open to all sorts of emotional appeals about law-and-order, change in their communities, and even darker thoughts.

  3. So, the Ds are embracing a policy promoted by both GWB and Ronald Reagan? Guessing they have a way of bashing the policy that they support too. Kind of like a candidate ripping up a bill that he voted for . . .

  4. GWB and Ronald Reagan embaraced the policy promoted by Ted Kennedy and the Democrats, Guy.

    And good for them.

  5. Joe- I think you’ve nailed it. Politics is about appealing to emotion and pre-rational impulses.

    Which is one of libertarianism’s biggest stumbling blocks. Agree with it or not (and I know you don’t, Joe) libertarianism is a fairly cerebral philosophy. And that doesn’t lead to mass appeal.

  6. Well, not to worry. Now that the Dems control congress, they’ll start pushing through some Guest Worker legislation any day now. Inn’t dat right joe?

  7. Warren,

    That depends on what Bush does.

  8. Which is one of libertarianism’s biggest stumbling blocks. Agree with it or not (and I know you don’t, Joe) libertarianism is a fairly cerebral philosophy. And that doesn’t lead to mass appeal.

    Agreed. The argument that the best response to a problem is sometimes no response is highly counter-intuitive.

    But, since you posted a comment along the lines of “This is why libertarianism will never get anywhere”, under the rules of the game we are now obligated to drink.

  9. libertarianism is a fairly cerebral philosophy

    Libertarian culture has grown in an eggheaded direction where so many congratulate themselves on how logical, consistent, and principled their thinking is. I blame Ayn Rand for starting that conceit.

    It doesn’t have to be that way, though. At least some people are born with a strong taste for freedom, and some manage to retain it despite everything in our society that tries to sell us on bland government maternalism.

  10. joe,

    Is there any evidence that blacks vote for Democrats because the Republicans say mean things about gays, and not because the Democrats are more zealous in appearing to redistribute wealth to blacks?

    And how do you measure people’s “pre-rational” responses, anyway?

  11. My Dad is near xenophobic. This one really got him to go off the deep end yesterday.

    While discussing immigration I told him that I would back a law that states as of a certain near-future date, anyone caught in this country illegally will be forced to become an American citizen, whether they like it or not. Further, they would not be allowed to go back to Mexico under any circumstance for a period of ten years – for fear they wouldn’t return to the United States and help me pay for his Social Security.

    He almost choked on his margarita.

  12. People should be allowed to come here to work and return home when they want without becoming citizens.

    Bingo. And that shouldn’t be labeled “immigration.”

    He almost choked on his margarita.

    Xenophobic–>Margarita? He doesn’t see the irony? What about tamales? Chili?

    I’ll quit. Don’t want drool on the keyboard.

  13. mitch,

    There is evidence that Republican attempts to appeal to religious, socially-conservative African American voters fail utterly. We get a new batch of data every two years, and it keeps pointing in the same direction. I’m not making a point about what motivates black voters; I’m making a point about what fails to motivate black voters – in this case, Republican appeals based on policies that the Republicans and this particular public agree on.

  14. He doesn’t see the irony?

    He didn’t. And I didn’t have the patience to ‘splain it to him.

  15. That depends on what Bush does.

    Oh really? I didn’t think the executive could veto legislation till after congress had passed it.

  16. Warren,

    I would take you at your word that you don’t understand how the President can influence Congress prior to the passage of a bill, but that would insult you intelligence.

  17. Do when is this D-ruled Congress going to up the worker visa quotas to the approximate number of “safe” illegals entering the US already?

    You see, nobody needs to make new law here, all the Congress has to do is change a number in a bill they pass every year or so. Pretty darn simple really. From hearing the Leftists one would think that worker visas are around 100/year now. From the other side, one would think that there are 200,000,000 illegals crossing the border every day.

    How about increasing H1B and H2B (plus others) to 2,000,000 per year? The only “down side” to that I see is if there are not enough takers then ICE might start advertising for ANYBODY to take the visas, kinda like the Food Stamp problem from another agency.

    To take this to the silliest believable example, ICE might resort to kidnapping foreign nationals to fill their visa quota.

  18. Libertarian culture has grown in an eggheaded direction where so many congratulate themselves on how logical, consistent, and principled their thinking is. I blame Ayn Rand for starting that conceit.

    Marketing it as deep thinkin’ at least has snob appeal. Relying on people being born libertarians leaves us even more screwed than usual. 😉

  19. In a two-party system, people have to be highly motivated to adhere to a alternative ideology. Third parties of all sorts end up populated with fanatics and braniacs.

    Between Kelo, gun rights, anti-PC and low taxes, there are plenty of libertarian ideas that lend themselves to a brainless red-meat style. If the two parties were the Dems and the LP, religious right Republicans would blaming their status on the inaccessible braininess and intellectual consistency of their philosophy.

  20. Maybe they fear that the Mexicans are going to round us up and put us on reservations.

    Don’t accept any “gift blankets”

  21. Has the libertarian movement been infiltrated by the left? The immorality of a particular law does not grant an automatic pardon on the violation of other laws. Just because narcotics should be legal does not justify the violence that drug users and dealers commit. Similarly, the politically correct libertarian view on borders does not excuse the trespass and theft that are committed by illegal aliens. No amnesty should excuse them from their actions.

    Any immigrant, regardless of legal status, should be deported for the commission of any crimes and misdemeanors of a violent or fraudulent nature.

  22. Has the libertarian movement been infiltrated by the left?

    *takes a drink*

  23. Just because narcotics should be legal does not justify the violence that drug users and dealers commit.

    See how violent crimes have a victim? Who is the victim of someone crossing a border without permission in order to fulfill an existing demand?

    Any immigrant, regardless of legal status, should be deported for the commission of any crimes and misdemeanors of a violent or fraudulent nature.

    Care to explain why those who had to earn citizenship should be deported in the event of a conviction while people lucky enough to emerge from the right uterus get to stay?

  24. Marketing it as deep thinkin’ at least has snob appeal.

    It has snob appeal, but I don’t think it has ever been marketed. Marketing would be something like running TV commericals with attractive young people discussing political philosophy, maybe with MTV-like quick cutaway shots, and a subtext of sexual flirtation, followed by a blurb for the Libertarian Party.

    Instead, most people’s experience is something more like this:
    Libertarian: Hi, would you like to take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz?
    Average American: Sure. [Takes quiz. Starts filling it in.] Hmm, I’m not sure the government should end barriers to all free trade. My brother-in-law just lost his job because it was outsourced. I’d have to think about that.
    Libertarian: So, you believe that the state should force someone to hire your brother-in-law at gunpoint!
    Average American: Well, uh … I’m going to back away slowly now…

  25. Similarly, the politically correct libertarian view on borders does not excuse the trespass and theft that are committed by illegal aliens.

    Nor the United States taking its southwestern region from Mexico by force. Seems like that historical act of agression would be relevant when a libertarian considers the legitimacy of the Unites States’s claim that Mexicans who sneek across the border are here illegally.

    Or does the non-aggression principle come with a statute of limitations?

  26. I blame Ayn Rand for starting that conceit.

    That’s odd, because she could have said this herself.

    It doesn’t have to be that way, though. At least some people are born with a strong taste for freedom, and some manage to retain it despite everything in our society that tries to sell us on bland government maternalism.

    But we’ll have to blame you for actually saying it.

  27. Has the libertarian movement been infiltrated by the left?

    Around here? Are you kidding? Not a chance.

  28. Greg,

    Care to explain why those who had to earn citizenship should be deported in the event of a conviction while people lucky enough to emerge from the right uterus get to stay?

    I presume you also like that song “sign, sign, everywhere a sign” too. This just might be the dumbest pro-immigration argument ever.

  29. Mike,

    Nor the United States taking its southwestern region from Mexico by force. Seems like that historical act of agression would be relevant when a libertarian considers the legitimacy of the Unites States’s claim that Mexicans who sneek across the border are here illegally.

    I assume you aren’t Mexican or Canadian, so I suggest that where ever your ancestors came from, you start swimming back there post haste.

    Or does the non-aggression principle come with a statute of limitations?

    By that logic we’ll have to give the planet back to the dinosaurs. I don’t care if they’re all dead, they were here first dammit!

    There is not now, nor has there ever been, a nation on the face of the earth, that isn’t (directly or indirectly) the end result of somebody’s conquest.

    That most assuredly includes Mexico….

  30. libertarianism is a fairly cerebral philosophy. And that doesn’t lead to mass appeal.

    It isn’t that libertarianism asks people to think too much. It’s the fact that libertarianism by and large refuses to think about the emotional impact that its nicely logical theories tend to induce in people.

    Fact: whenever the immigration rate gets high enough, it tends to cause social unrest. It’s been that way the world over, not just here and now in the US.

    Libertarians (and the left) can bitch all day about “racism”, but that really doesn’t explain the whole issue. Large influxes of foreigners cause economic and social network dislocations as well, and these can be genuinely painful to deal with.

    That is a fact that pro-immigration libertarians refuse to consider. The fact that they can’t consider such things, is precisely why so many people find it so easy to ignore them.

    Rand gets slammed for being “all black and white”. I contend that libertarians are open to the same criticism.

    I’ll pick a very simple example, from another time and place — just to try and diffuse the emotions that tend to surround the whole immigration issue.

    When the West arrived in SE Asia, Vietnam did not want to let in large numbers of Catholic missionaries (damned racists anyway, those Vietnamese were). So the missionaries made up other excuses to get into Vietnam, and then they went and did missionary stuff anyway.

    Looking at the impact on Vietnamese culture and social order, I have always thought that the Vietnamese leaders were right in wanting to exclude Christianity. The Eastern and Western cultural orders run orthogonal to one and other, and Christianity has been a highly disruptive force in Vietnam. Biggest example was the monks who burned themselves in protest of Diem’s regime.

    Vietnam would very probably have been better off without Christian missionaries.

    The possibility that a mass influx of Mexicans could also be causing major social disruptions in the US — without it having anything to do with racism — is a prospect that the pro-immigration crowd has flatly refused to consider.

    Part of the problem is that social and economic networks are diffuse, and difficult (or impossible) to theorize about. Therefore they don’t get considered by the pro-immigration crowd, and they get weakly articulated by the anti-immigration crowd.

    There is nonetheless an issue buried here, and the “you’re just a racist” line betrays a profound level of ignorance. It’s really not all that simple.

  31. “social unrest” – you mean, people coming into contact with ideas, habits, and cultural expressions that are novel to them? Libertarians are supposed to be opposed to this why, exactly?

    Sounds like dynamism to me.

  32. Genghis, I’m not sure what side of the immigration debate your on, but to make my views clear: I’m in favor of open immigration. And I think the concept of a statute of limitations is one of the most practical legal ideas ever invented. But, the need for limitations is never considered by purist libertarians who think the non-aggression principle is the root of all correct political thinking.

  33. Mike, it’s easy to tell which side of the debate you’re on. I’m in favor of immigration, but not necessarily “all-y all-y all in free”. It’s just possible that the flow rate might need a little control placed on it, at times.

    Which is clearly not PC for either side of the debate.

    the need for limitations is never considered by purist libertarians who think the non-aggression principle is the root of all correct political thinking.

    Bravo for that.

  34. you mean, people coming into contact with ideas, habits, and cultural expressions that are novel to them?

    Something like that. And numbers do matter. Because what I’m getting at, is that there is an upper limit to our ability to absorb and assimilate immigrants. Beyond that, you change the whole social (and ultimately political) structure.

    It hasn’t happened here, yet. Just like it never happened in China. But it’s happened in Europe and the Middle East, in past history. It could happen here.

    Standard issue libertarians clearly wouldn’t oppose it. But some of us think otherwise.

  35. Being exposed to new ideas and ways of living is one thing, and that I’m not opposed to (I married an immigrant fwiw). But having it shoved down your throat is a very different matter. I’ll give you a hypothetical example.

    I’ve talked to lots of British immigrants who came here, in their own words, for lack of opportunity at home. Yet these same people will say in the next breath “but Americans just have too many freedoms”.

    They don’t get it.

    You would have an exceedingly hard time convincing me that it would be good for the US, if 50 to 60 million people who think like this, came here permanently over a 15 to 20 year time frame. Somewhere along the line there would be enough of them, that they would become a force to be reckoned with.

    Libertarians of all people should understand the whole concept of critical mass, which the LP has never quite been able to muster.

    You can argue that we’d never get that many Brits coming in, and I’d agree. But I contend that the principle in this example is nonetheless valid.

    And I’m not so sure that this scenerio is impossible when you start talking about all the hispanics south of the border. Not we you just opened the flood gates wide.

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