Jeb Bush: 'It is not [immigration] law enforcement but the law itself that is broken'


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Goldwater Institute Vice President Clint Bolick have a new book out, called Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution. An excerpt in today's Wall Street Journal contains a point that somehow goes missing in most of our emotion-choked discourse on the issue: "The best way to prevent illegal immigration is to make sure that we have a fair and workable system of legal immigration." Who'da thunk?


It is not law enforcement but the law itself that is broken. The nation has changed dramatically since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, and that legislation has not held up well. It has been patched over so many times that it is hopelessly complex and incoherent. We need to start from scratch. […]

There is no "line." Critics of comprehensive reform often argue that illegal immigrants should return to their native countries and wait in line like everyone else who wants to come to America. But unless they have relatives in the U.S. or can fit within the limited number of work-based visas, no line exists for such individuals.

For most aspiring immigrants, the only means of legal admission to this country is an annual "diversity lottery" that randomly awards visas to 55,000 foreigners. There are roughly 250 applicants for each visa every year. The absence of a meaningful avenue of access increases the pressure for illegal immigration.

Preach it, Brother Bush.

Sadly, the always-timely observation that over-criminalization breeds lawbreakers and thus should occasion re-writing the law, does not, for Bush/Bolick, extend to the Drug War:

The far greater border-security threat is paramilitaristic drug cartels that often are also involved in human smuggling, increasingly from Central American countries. The U.S. needs to coordinate closely with Mexico and focus its resources on defeating the cartels.

The cartels are indeed terrible, but organized crime always flourishes wherever the law forbids millions of humans from pursuing happiness how they see fit.

Read Reason's special August 2006 issue on immigration here.