June 7, 2020

Defeat by embarrassment

Defeat by Embarrassment
Why Are Conservatives Ignoring a Slam Dunk on Immigration Reform?
by Michael Spencer

Imagine a political issue that could unite a conservative coalition well beyond the one that supported Ronald Reagan. An issue that bypasses questions of religion and social morality, and unites voters around a practical matter that anyone can understand. Imagine an issue that holds emotional and logical power, an issue that is both patriotic and pragmatic, an issue that will be forced upon all leaders, and is crying out for attention. Now imagine that the conservatives who have this issue in their hands refuse to use it, and are, in fact, seemingly embarrassed to be associated with it.

Immigration is the earthquake that will soon rock the West. It is an issue that is, literally, flooding our culture without our permission, and forcing itself upon us, despite our determination to ignore it. Every day, the number of Americans politically motivated by the issue of immigration reform increases, and conservatives largely watch this happen without seeing the implications. The news media increasingly pays attention to the issue, baiting the political culture to run left or right, but few seem interested.

Why aren’t conservatives doing what Dick Morris recently recommended: make immigration reform the front line of a patriotic domestic agenda? With a war on and homeland security on the front pages, America is ready for common sense, practical immigration reform. The 9/11 terrorists used our immigration policy against us, and part of the pain of such a senseless loss of life is the relative simplicity of the changes needed. What furthers the pain is the virtual impossibility of the existing system fixing itself so that immigration is no longer a glaring, self-inflicted hole in our national security.

Immigration is no longer an issue just for Buchanonites or right wing wackos. The numbers are available to anyone.

In 1996, a more or less typical year, there were 916,000 legal immigrants plus an estimated 275,000 who came illegally. Favorite immigrant destinations were California, where one third went, and the New York metropolitan area, which drew about one in six. As a group, immigrants are less skilled and younger than the average American. Of the legal immigrants, 65 percent entered under family reunification programs and 13 percent under employment-based preference programs; 14 percent were refugees or asylum seekers. From 1990 through 1998, an average of 460,000 immigrants a year became citizens…The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest projection, which assumes a continuation of recent immigration and emigration levels over the next half a century, puts the U.S. population at 394 million in 2050. Of the 122 million increase between now and then, 80 million would be added because of immigration…The U.S. will become increasingly more diverse. In 1980 the U.S. was 80 percent Anglo–that is, non-Hispanic white. It is now 72 percent Anglo, and by 2050, according to Census Bureau projections, it will be 53 percent. California and New Mexico are now slightly less than half Anglo, and by 2015 Texas will also be a minority Anglo state… 600,000 illegals in America have already been deported, but are still resident in the U.S. (Source: Scientific American)

Immigration is already changing the face- and politics- of Europe. Arabic immigrants have made many of our old allies barely recognizable on matters of policy. Conservatives in Europe have been less bashful about taking up the issue of immigration reform, but they have not been able to overcome the collective guilt of the liberal elites who, as Jonah Goldberg recently wrote, can see no wrong in the actions of anyone they formerly governed in their colonial era. Except us.

Conservative embarrassment over the issue of immigration is obvious. With the profile of immigration problems growing in the minds of the public, President Bush signed a waiver of the current law to allow millions of illegals to stay in the country. In the battle for Hispanic voter support, the President presumed that even modest immigration reform would cost votes he could not afford to lose in ’02 and ’04. With the profiling of Middle Eastern men appearing to be a necessity, Federal airport screeners are randomly picking out children and senior adults to search, while allowing Arab men to board planes unsearched. Federal agents have arrested hundreds of illegals working at airports, but no policy to stop immigrants from acquiring such high risk jobs is discussable.

Even simple measures, like declaring a moratorium on immigration or specific kinds of immigration, seem impossible for most conservatives to articulate because of fear of appearing racist. Even though legal immigrants overwhelmingly support immigration reform, conservatives are terrified of appearing anti-Arab or anti-Hispanic. Conservatives know that Social Security will be bankrupt in the future without strong action now, but that same logic, when applied to our ridiculously porous borders and broken immigration system, does not yield a passion for action. Conservatives are afraid- afraid of an issue that would show courage and compassion in a time of national crisis.

Liberals face a similar predicament. As the prophets of multi-culturalism, they are naturally inclined to oppose immigration reform and spread the virtues of cultural diversity. Democrats have been aggressive, to say the least, at using immigration as a way to pack their own voter rolls, and they have presided over the Clinton presidency’s scandalous use of the immigration laws to create thousands of new Democrats. To continue to promote the immigration follies runs the risks of putting Democrats perilously close to the blame for the current mess. If they attempt to blame the Republicans for incompetence on immigration, they are actually describing themselves. Even now, their vilifying of John Ashcroft as a racist or a Nazi for enforcing and tightening existing immigration laws rings very hollow. Liberals must find a way to sound like they should be taken seriously, and to this point, they are still searching.

Conservative pundits have spoken frequently on the need for immigration reform. Though he may have committed some errors in his book, The Death of the West, Pat Buchanon is electrifying in his predictions and logic on what the world will look like in fifty years as current patterns of immigration continue. When we think of immigrants as coming to America to be Americans, there is a good feeling about immigration, even with its many problems. After all, we are a nation of people who came here as Greeks, Asians, Irish, etc., but chose to become Americans first. But Buchanon reminds us that the melting pot is largely over, and many immigrant cultures resist and refuse assimilation, creating problems that range from language to religion to terrorism.

On many university campuses, an observer can see a very different face of immigration. Alongside those who are in America to study and work with appreciation for our culture, there are others who are contemptuous of America, its government and its place in the world. It is ironic that the very values these people vilify, allow them to remain in our country to study as our guests, even while the practice subversion, fund-raising and terror against us. Hearing these hostile Arabs particularly squall at their deportation or arrests, one is reminded that perversity revels in taking what is good and using it for evil.

Will George W. Bush become an articulate advocate of immigration reform? I expect only moderate support by the President before ’04, but after his near certain re-election, President Bush has the opportunity to make this a major conservative issue. But will he? I do not know. Conservatives on the local level are fearful of being portrayed as racists, and the trauma of 9/11 has not sufficiently motivated them to run the gauntlet of liberal name-calling.

Sad to say, but worse things will have to happen before immigration becomes a front burner issue that inspires political courage and risk-taking. If conservative legislators can’t find the spine, then conservative thinkers should be writing the books and conservative pundits should be keeping up the heat. Young people are thinking about this issue, and like the issue of taxes and bigger government in general, they are on our side. (Take it from me, I know what I am talking about.) American young people feel stronger than ever that those who come to this country should be here legally, take care of their business, obey our laws, learn our culture and support our values. They will respond to a leader who can connect immigration, the war of terror and the security of their future.

Every week we hear some story of how other countries treat visitors and immigrants who don’t obey their laws. Even a minor act of vandalism can result in a bogus trial, medieval torture or disappearance into a primitive prison to never be heard from again. In contrast, America opens wide its doors and hearts to those who come here to study, work and contribute- and obey our laws. For those who do not, our national values and security are not furthered by allowing illegal or law breaking immigrants to become a festering disease on the health of the nation. A political party that can say so without racism or prejudice, but with love for all Americans, will prosper in the twenty-first century.