Tuesday, May 16, 2006
By the way, I haven't commented on the President's immigration speech because I didn't listen to it or read it. The universal after-the-fact consensus is that he said what everybody expected him to say. So what's to say?
I don't think President Bush's position on immigration, by the way, is at all surprising. Here are the propositions that, I believe, the President holds to be true. They are all disputable, but I think you'll agree that if true they add up to a case for the President's position on this matter.
Maybe I'm crazy, but this is basically what I think the President believes, and, if he believes all of the above, then there's no mystery why he favors a big guestworker program and an amnesty for those illegals already here.
Like I said, every one of these points can be debated. If you read Steve Sailer's blog, I'm sure you know the whole laundry list of arguments on the other side. Immigration is really not my issue, but I've tried to get up to speed on it because it seems to be pretty darned important to a whole lot of people. Mostly I wish that supporters of high immigration levels would stop condescending to opponents, and just make their case in a rational manner, and, as well, that immigration restrictionists would drop the conspiratorial talk, the talk of "treason" and the like that really is beyond the pale. Nobody is a traitor here. I don't see any treason in the argument I laid out above any more than I see inherent racism on the part of those who favor immigration restriction. In both cases, I see rational arguments that may well be wrong on multiple levels. If we can't have a rational argument with each other, then the only people who lose is us.
I want to make one other point, and I'm afraid I'm going to offend some people by doing so, so before I do, just remember how incredibly reasonable I am and how attentive I've been to the arguments of immigration restrictionists. I think I'm fairly rare in that regard; by and large, the only people I read who give restrictionist arguments credence are people who have already bought those arguments. That mostly speaks poorly of those who are in the pro-immigration camp than it does speak well for me, but I'm looking for credit anyhow.
Here it is. A very high percentage of articulate opponents of an amnesty for illegal aliens are themselves immigrants who came here legally. They know just how hard we make it for people who are law-abiding and would make excellent citizens to become such. It's quite clear that some of the emotion in their opposition to any kind of amnesty derives from their sense of having been played for chumps: they jumped through all the hoops to do things on the up-and-up, and here eleven million people who broke the rules are getting rewarded. They don't think that's fair, and it burns them up.
It's not fair. I don't have any good argument for why it is fair, because it isn't. And I agree absolutely that if you reward bad behavior, you get more of it. That is one of the many holes in the syllogism I presented above on behalf of the President.
But I want to point out something else. Life isn't fair. All sorts of people who don't play by the rules get rewarded. The fact is that the people who are being rewarded are not that similar to you. You came here with skills, an education, and a middle-class background. Illegal immigrants overwhelmingly come here with nothing. If this is the first time you've noticed that people with little or nothing bend or break the rules that the middle class is forced to play by, then you have not lived much. And if you haven't noticed that there are plenty of instances that go the other way - enforcement of the laws against drug possession, for example - then once again, you haven't lived much.
I really don't want to sound harsh here. But speaking for myself I am much more likely to listen to the policy implications of amnesty - that it will encourage more illegal immigration, for example - than I am to listen to the argument that amnesty is an insult to those who came here legally. On one level, of course it is. But I just don't think that's a good enough basis for a political upheaval such as is being called for in some quarters.