Posted by Brad @ 12:18 pm on June 8th 2007

I Don’t Care About Immigration

That’s my admission.

I don’t mean that I don’t have views on it, or that I don’t find a lot to be passionate about in terms of the rule of law, the land of opportunity, corporate largesse (an angle none but Paul seem willing to talk about), or national security. But as a broad issue, immigration, particularly illegal immigration, just totally fails to animate me. Whether it’s the hysterics we saw in the Republican debate last week, or the doomsaying Mark Steyn-ish “our society will soon collapse and disintegrate!” demographic stuff, or the liberal “we must provide health services for alien babies!”, I just don’t care. Ho-hum. What else is on?

It’s obviously a massive public policy issue, and deserves thoughtful consideration, none of which I deny, but maybe it’s because where the passion on the issue IS, pro and con, thoughtful consideration seems consistently absent. I hear people bleeting on about the imminent decline of America at the hands of either racist rednecks or poor brown people, and my eyes just start to roll back into my head.

I put in my wishy-washy support for the President’s policy initative, which seemed to me to at least be stepping in the right direction on most every front. And I registered my general disgust at the anti-immigration bill movement which made (and makes) some perfectly respectable and legitimate points which are more or less buried under completely unreasonable demands (“no immigration until our borders are secure”, which strikes me as about on par with “curtail freedom until the War on Terror is won”) and, most saliently, this bizarro antagonist tone, the pinnacle of which can be found in just about every post on the issue at The Corner over the last several weeks, or, when it really sung, in Tom Tancredo’s performance at the debate Tuesday, where he bravely stood in favor of English, the “American core”, and solidly against “familial or historic ties”, whatever the hell that meant. Mitt Romney also was sure to get on record as not being “pro-Spanish”, and the rest of the candidates fell all over themselves to concur (the two times I HAVE felt energized on this issue was in McCain’s answers on the topic on Tuesday, and Obama’s on Sunday, when he declared what an idiotic question it was to ask about the sanctity of English).

I have views on immigration, as I said. I don’t think we should ever reward law-breaking behavior. I think that immigration channels to America need to be greatly expanded. And I believe immigration, in general, is as natural as the weather, and, in the case of America, one of the foundational causes of and evidence for our greatness. But these views are by and large not well represented in the Thunderdome-esque political theater in which the issue sees most of its debate.

So, that’s all a lengthy introduction to this post by Andrew Sullivan, which I agree with in its entirity. Money quote:

…maybe it’s all about the collapse of the Republican coalition. My feeling is that this kind of bill requires a president to corral it through the Congress, a president who is able to persuade his own supporters and explain to the public why this kind of compromise is the best available. We don’t have such a president right now. He is despised by the entire middle and left, and he has alienated the base of the right. As a lukewarm supporter of the bill – I can’t see any other feasible rubric to deal with border security and the 12 million people who are already here, won’t leave, and have jobs to do – I was nonetheless never persuaded that this bill was essential. The president’s arrogant condescension toward his critics didn’t help. And the passion was almost all on the extremes.

So no tears. In general, I’m happy to see laws not being passed. I’m not convinced that this bill or any bill would dramatically increase national security, and so fail to see the urgency. If this means that we can concentrate on border enforcement in the near future, so be it. Politically, I tend to think this will hurt the GOP badly in the long term. The reason is not the cogency of many of the arguments; it’s the patent cultural and social panic that animates the Republican gut. This fear of the other and need to demonize and objectify it is obviously the emotional core of the opposition. You can see it in their faces. If these immigrants were Poles or Italians or Irish, I can’t see the Mickey-Dobbs-Limbaugh coalition getting so upset. I say that not from the basis of their arguments (which are largely respectable) but from the hysterical tone of their remarks. I guess as a gay man, I have come to recognize that tone. More and more members of minorities hear it coming from the GOP. It will come back to haunt them.

Amen, man.

Maybe, next time around, the debate will be such that I’ll actually find myself being viscerally engaged by it.

But that time certainly wasn’t now.


  1. The radical anti-immigration people don’t seem to understand that, for supporters of this bill, the status quo is a perfectly acceptable alternative. I’d like to see a system established in which we can integrate existing illegal aliens into the fabric of society, and I think this bill would have been a step in that direction.

    But I feel no particular urgency regarding that need, so when the anti-immigration zealots go “Ha! We killed your bill!”, my response tends to be a yawn. McCain had itr right–eliminating this bill while putting nothing serious forward in its place IS de facto support for amnesty. I can live with that; can the cultural right?

    McCain emerges from this situation a political winner, I think. Had the bill passed, it might well have cost him his candidacy, but now the vituperation surrounding the issue will fade somewhat, while the impressions of his moral leadership will remain.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/8/2007 @ 12:52 pm

  2. I am in the airport next to a TV screen showing Lou Dobbs.

    Lou Dobbs may be the worst person on television (although I’m not sure that I’m giving John Gibson his due).

    Comment by Adam — 6/8/2007 @ 5:50 pm

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