Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Conservative Argument against Immigration Restriction

Very often discussion on Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona implies that it is liberals who oppose this kind of measure, and conservatives who support it. The linked essay, which criticizes Democrats for pushing for a national ID, suggests that there is a case to be made from conservatism to a more open border policy.

This also is a good time to question the entire idea of the national government trying to “seal the borders,” pick winners and losers among immigrants, decide who gets all the welfare benefits of being a legal immigrant and who is not even allowed into our golden door. Invariably, when the federal government imposes its way on immigration, we get some immigrants who come in with legal sanction and quickly become dependents of the U.S. government—whereas illegals are probably not net beneficiaries of the welfare state, legal immigrants might very well be. What’s worse, plenty of people are denied peaceful and legal entry when all they want is to enter the job market, improve their situation and that of their families, and join in the American dream. Of course, despite the state’s distinction between legal and illegal immigrants, most illegal aliens are de facto invited by the American people—by those who employ them, rent to them and associate with them as part of the community and in the glorious network of voluntary exchange known as the market economy. Since conservatives often say our rights come not from the government but from God and the nature of man, it is not for the government to decide whether someone should have the right to live here or not—it is up to individuals and communities, which obviously are able to sustain a fair number of illegals. Moreover, constitutionalists in particular should question the very notion that the feds have legal authority to crack down on the border, since immigration is not an Article I, Section 8 authority of Congress. Conservatives especially should follow Reagan’s example and embrace immigration amnesty.


Fishermage said...

Most real economic conservatives and libertarians that I have known favor more open borders. It tends to be social conservatives and populists (who are more left than right in most things economic) who want to shut the borders in the name of "rule of law."

As a classical liberal/libertarian type of guy, I do not understand that the isolationists do not see this is the best way to divide and destroy the Republican party. If the Republicans want a suicide issue, this is the one for them.

It was partly why 2006 happened, and it will give the Democrats a wedge with which to win in 2010.

Anonymous said...

Libertarians are the last people who should be turning up their noses at being willing to stick to principles rather than simply win an election.

Hey, we got Bush in office for 2 terms. Yay for two republican victories! He did a bang-up job reducing the role of government and promoting libertarian ideals, didn't he? Sure was a good libertarian move to support him, right? We got him two terms!

Mr. Guthrie said...

Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress shall "establish a uniform rule of Naturalization..." The article ends with this language: "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the forgoing powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." The power given to Congress by the Constitution to regulate Naturalization makes Naturalization a Federal issue, not a state or local issue. The article just quoted shows that the Federal government has the Constitutional power to regulate who crosses our borders legally and who do not. Yes, Conservatives say our rights are from God, but the issue is hardly a Federal/State issue. If a state, a community or an individual violates the rights of others, Conservatives would welcome Federal involvement to uphold rights being threatened. Conservatives believe the Constitution is the best guarrantor of those rights. As for the impact of illegal immigration on government benefits and what it would cost the government if they were granted amnesty, see here: This article is from an organization recommended by Allan Simpson who sponsored the immigration bill Reagan signed in 1986. The fact that Reagan supported it has nothing to do with the merits of it. If the issue is so worrisome for Republicans, why did Obama say that there is no chance for a bill this year? Certainly if the Republicans fiflbustered the bill it would doom the Republicans in Nov., right? 2006 happened because the Republicans lost the Conservative base in no small measure because of Bush's stand on immigration. McCain is supporting the Arizona law because he sees where the voters are on this issue.

Anonymous said...

If the Republicans want a suicide issue, this is the one for them.

Indeed; hispanics voted 2 to 1 for Obama. Republicans who support amnesty and increased immigration are suicidal.

Paul said...

Hi Victor,
A rather sane proposal can be found at First Things. While it may be difficult to enact, security-for-amnesty swap makes sense on both sides of the moral conundrum.

Fishermage said...

"Indeed; hispanics voted 2 to 1 for Obama. Republicans who support amnesty and increased immigration are suicidal."

And they lost the election due to a Republican party that had no unity, partly due to the internal fight over immigration.

It has nothing to do with buying ethnic votes. Republicans should let Democrats do that, and focus on issues that unite them, not divide them -- like fiscal conservative ones.

This is about pro-business Republicans vs. the populist wing of the party -- divide them and lose.

Mr. Guthrie said...

Today it was announced that both attempts to repeal the Arizona law by referendum this year are to be abandonned. It appears there was no public support for those measures. So much for immigration being a suicide issue for Conservatives and Republicans.

Victor Reppert said...

The immigration laws in Prince William County were popular when they were first enacted by the county's board of supervisors. As issues arose with the actual enforcement of those laws, public opinion shifted. We still have not seen how, in actual practice, the Arizona law is going to be enforced. My view is that it will either be ineffectual or there will be profiling, with a proliferation of lawsuits going both ways. The trial lawyers are going to be the only ones who benefit.