If you support enforcement of existing laws on immigration, you are–gasp!–a racist!

Fellow Berean Mark Caleb Smith continues to write eloquently about the need for improving civil discourse, as in our current featured post, yet I fear he will continue to be a voice in the wilderness.  While he and I have some disagreements in this area, certainly he is right that a major problem in our current politics is the inability to treat one another with respect–we can’t disagree agreeably.

Naturally, those of us more on the conservative side tend to see this more on the progessive side, and undoubtedly progressives see the reverse.  But I do believe its worse on the progressive side, because as Thomas Sowell writes in his book Conflict of Visions, progressives (those falling into the category of what he calls the “unconstrained vision”) highly value intentions; intentions matter more than results. Thus they are often unwilling to grant their opponents good intentions, as this is a high compliment.  Conservatives (those of the “constrained vision”) do not value intentions nearly as much, but rather focus on results.  So they are much more willing to be charitable and grant their opponents good intentions, focusing their criticisms toward their opponents as misguided and naive.

We can see some of this in the debate over immigration (which flows even into disagreements among Bereans and our readers).  To briefly summarize my own perspectives, I tend to be in favor of relatively open borders, and thus would like a pathway to legality for those that want to come to American and work hard and pursue their dreams.  However, I am firmly opposed to any pathway to citizenship that rewards those that have broken our laws.  Being hospitable to the alien does not necessitate giving them citizenship. Milton Friedman once said you can’t have open borders and a welfare state, and I think he is generally right.

Democrats are now firmly (but not unanimously explicit) in favor of no immigration laws, with many cynically believing this is a way to a permanent progressive majority. As Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chaffee says,

“We’re right on immigration,” said the former Rhode Island governor and senator, during the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting in Minneapolis.  “The fastest growing voting bloc in the country,” Chaffee added. “Of course we want that people to be treated with respect and to vote Democratic.”

Republicans believe this, and therefore fall into the Democrats trap to portray them as hostile to immigrants.  Of course, Republicans are right to be concerned–the data show fairly clearly that not surprisingly poor immigrants will vote for a party that promises to give them goodies.  But Republican opposition is then portrayed as not having any legitimate basis, but labeled as–yes, drop the progressive thermo-nuclear bomb–racist.  Writing in Salon, and getting his moment of fame by being linked in the Drudgereport, Ilias Isquith targets the Tea Party members specifically,

And if we keep in mind that these folks think the world is ending as it is already, their strategy makes sense. In fact, it’s a real mistake to dismiss these people as lunatics, as their critics, both on the right and the left, so often do. Far as I can tell, these “crazy” tactics have borne them plenty of fruit. Where they break from the rest of the political establishment is in their analysis; that apocalyptic stuff about the end of the republic, the New Black Panther Party, and immigration being akin to “invasion.”  But that’s not craziness; that’s racism. They’re different.

Fight on Mark Caleb Smith.  You have your work cut out for you.

 

 

12 thoughts on “If you support enforcement of existing laws on immigration, you are–gasp!–a racist!”

  1. I had read a quote from Ben Carson that said his view of immigration is based solely on what is economically beneficial to America. You are clearly opposed to open borders and welfare, I think that makes a lot of sense. How do you feel about open immigration for unskilled labor, or others that might even be a drain on our economy?

    1. I’m not aware of what Mr. Carson has said, but I don’t think that ANY type of labor is a drain. It all adds to our economy and therefore on net will be beneficial. I don’t deny that immigration can result in relative harm to some competitive groups (those competing for low-skilled labor jobs), but its good overall economically.

      Let’s just say it this way. Imagine in your home town that a new family moves into town and opens a new grocery store that competes with a monopoly grocery store in your town, perhaps run by a friend of your family. You might be sympathetic to the financial harm that your family friend has by no longer being protected in his/her monopoly privilege. But almost none of us would think we should make it illegal for the new family to move in. And all of us would benefit from the lower grocery prices. So why would it make any difference if the new family moved in from a neighboring town or Mexico? I fail to see any economic or moral distinction.

  2. “Republicans believe this, and therefore fall into the Democrats trap to portray them as hostile to immigrants. Of course, Republicans are right to be concerned–the data show fairly clearly that not surprisingly poor immigrants will vote for a party that promises to give them goodies.”

    Your “data”–notes from an editorial from a right-wing website–does not support such a simplistic, and indeed uncivil, point of view that immigrants vote largely/only because they want “goodies.” If you did some real research, you’d already know that some of the issues that concern Hispanic immigrants concern the rest of us, such as education and the weakening of the middle class.

    Correlation does not necessarily mean causation. And, yes, you should know better.

    First thing, immigrants of all economic backgrounds and most ethnic backgrounds tend to vote Democratic. Indeed, Asian immigrants tend to be even more Democratic in their voting. This represents a total flip from 1992, when Democrats attracted around 30% of the Asian vote.

    What explains this dramatic shift? Didn’t the Democrats advanced universal health care of sorts in 1992?

    Second, Hispanic immigrants tend to be socially conservative and more religious than the U.S. If the GOP weren’t so hostile and often insulting to Hispanics, perhaps the GOP would attract more Hispanics. You DO know that Hispanics used to vote much more frequently for the GOP. Check back to 2004.

    What explains this shift? They didn’t want “goodies” in 2004 but now they do?

    I’d say one major reason the GOP has lost the immigrant vote is because of outright hostility, some of which borders on racism.

    Do I need to repeat the offensive garbage the GOP’s LEADER [at this point] for the highest office in this nation has said? Please don’t make me do that.

    How about the stream of racist nonsense coming out of the mouth of Steve “Cantaloupe Calves” King? How about the Arizona politician who proposed a plan entitled “Operation Wetback”? How about Herman Cain’s electrified border fence idea, as if Hispanics were like farm animals? I could go on and on…

    To their credit, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush! have stayed away from such xenophobia. At this point, those two might be the best hopes for the GOP in 2016. If neither of them make the final cut, then 2016 might represent the most humiliating defeat the GOP has suffered since 1964.

    1. Jeff
      I think I made very clear that I don’t necessarily agree with the analysis of the conservative site; but I did look at their data sources and found them reasonably credible (mostly government statistics). Do you care to share why you think their data–as opposed to their analysis–is wrong? If not, then it seems your criticism of my post is misplaced.

      EDIT Update: I originally did not address what I on reflection think was also a large part of your criticism, that my post was “a simplistic, and indeed uncivil, point of view that immigrants vote largely/only because they want “goodies.” So, let me say that of course any blog post is “simplistic” in that we are dealing with complex social issues that nevertheless merit discussion w/o tomes being written. So to the charge simplistic, I plead “sort of,” with no apology given. To the latter criticism that immigrants vote “for goodies,” perhaps the choice of the term “goodies” was too materialistic, but again the comment is intended in a positive, not normative, sense. The economic science of Public Choice is all based on modeling politics as exchange. In every exchange, there are costs and benefits. So “goodies” are the benefits that immigrants may expect to receive in return for their vote. But this is in no way limited to immigrants; indeed I would assert that you cast your vote (if you vote) in anticipation of certain “goodies,” and so does everyone else. That’s all economists mean when we say that politics can be modeled as exchange. It is true that the “goodies” can be broadly conceived and may include many non-material things (such as how you feel your vote will improve your country). The point is that everybody hopes that their vote will lead to a more beneficial result than not voting. You can consider this view as uncivil; I consider this view as representing a fact of life and a result of our human nature. In almost all elections, we hear that votes will be dependent on “pocket book” issues, or how people believe their vote will lead to a better economic result for them. Is that term less uncivil to you?

    2. “Second, Hispanic immigrants tend to be socially conservative and more religious than the U.S. If the GOP weren’t so hostile and often insulting to Hispanics, perhaps the GOP would attract more Hispanics. You DO know that Hispanics used to vote much more frequently for the GOP. Check back to 2004.”

      Maybe the GOP would have better success with Hispanics if liberals stopped lying to them (and people like you stopped believing and propagating the lie) that opposition and, yes, outright hostility, to illegal immigration is the same as being anti-Hispanic. No one, not even Mr. Trump, is simply anti-Hispanic. It is not the GOP’s fault that the majority of illegals just happen to be Hispanic, the Democrats just take advantage of the fact that they are mostly of one ethnicity to inject race into the argument.

      And while you are correct that Hispanics tend to be socially conservative, I would look at voting priorities. I think you will find that, at the moment, Hispanics prioritize their left-leaning economic preferences over social issues at the voting booth. And it is not just Hispanics. I know several people who are socially conservative Democrats but they consistently vote for liberals like Obama because they support the left’s economic policies and prioritize them over the social values. It is misleading to claim that GOP outreach on social issues to Hispanics would suddenly convert large numbers of them over.

      “If neither of them make the final cut, then 2016 might represent the most humiliating defeat the GOP has suffered since 1964.”

      While I agree that Mr. Trump is by far inferior to Rubio or Bush general election-wise, your statement is, for the moment, false. All current polling shows that ALL the top GOP candidates poll competitively against Hillary Clinton. Of course they could still lose, and if Trump ends up with the nomination, losing might be more likely than winning, but the poll numbers hardly demonstrate a ” 1964-esque humiliating defeat” in the works. Of course we never know what will happen a year from now, but if the election were this November…

      The only Democrat who consistently polls ahead of (but not so far ahead that the lead is by any means insurmountable for the GOP) is Joe Biden, and he is not even in the race, and every day now that he does not get in reduces his chances against Hillary.

  3. In America today, we need our elected officials to actually sit down and have a conversation about trying to fix our immigration system. The only way to start fixing the problems with this system is by securing the border and reinforcing it with a larger number of Border Patrol personnel. I do not know what the government should do with the illegal immigrants who are already here, but we should not reward them for breaking the law to get here.

    America is a country of immigrants and every one of us had an ancestor who came here seeking a better life at some point in history. We just have to make sure that our immigration laws are enforced and that those who want to create a better life for themselves here, go about it the right way.

  4. I definitely believe a more open border is better for us all. Easier pathways to living and working in the states would reduce incentives to cross the border illegally if it was easier. I do agree citizenship should be rewarded only to law abiding individuals. I do however think the conservative party needs to change on this issue. Instead of projecting hostility to immigrants, the conservatives must modify the presentation of their message. Many immigrants would be more willing to favor the Republican party if they stated their views with honesty and were more willing to broaden immigration. However, the liberal party must likewise rethink some of the ways they do things. Promising federal goodies to immigrants in exchange for their votes is not helping the poor. It is not progressing society. It is only enforcing paternalism as the elite privileged liberal promises to come save the immigrant with government handouts that will only create dependency and harm the economy. I don’t understand how liberals fail to see how de-humanizing their welfare state claims are. They suggest that THEY are the ones who can raise individuals out of poverty. Conservatives believe that if individuals are equipped with freedom and access to opportunities that they will have the strength and human dignity to bring THEMSELVES out of poverty.

  5. It seems to me that the Republicans just haven’t been tactful in how they are trying to battle illegal immigration. I think part of that is that the parties too get caught up in merely opposing each other and getting worked up about issues. Aside from that, I think that if they took a step back and really evaluated the long term effects of an open boarder and an easier path to citizenship they would find it stimulating to the economy. There would definitely be less incentive to come through illegally. I can’t generalize all immigrants but it appears that most who come to the US are motivated and ready to make a life for themselves; better than what they came form They’ll have jobs and put money back into the economy, not just take it away.

  6. When talking about laws, I have one very simple opinion: if you are going to have a law, enforce it. If you are not going to enforce the law, get rid of it. Regardless of where you stand on immigration, I hope you can agree with my opinion. Based on the current laws of the land, I believe all illegal immigrants should be punished for their actions. If the United States does not punish illegal immigrants, there continues to be an incentive for more people to enter into the U.S. illegally. At the end of the day, it is not the executive branch’s job (such as police and boarder patrol) to choose what laws to enforce. Their job is to enforce the laws the legislative branch has set in place.

  7. To me, the immigration issue in the United States leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It always appears that both parties are simply using these very real, desperate, immigrants as bargaining chips in there own private poker game, where the stakes are seen as votes, rather than human lives. I also generally prefer an open borders system (privatization of land on the border would solve this issue) and am often met with contempt from conservatives. I cannot help but see something xenophobic and heartless in their attempts to wall themselves off from immigrants. It is undoubtedly a protectionist position which is why it boggles my mind that conservatives should support the free flow of goods (trade) but oppose the free movement of labor. That being said, I sympathize with Friedman’s assertion that a welfare state is incompatible with open borders. A robust welfare state does undoubtedly alter the incentives for immigration and leads to unintended consequences of an otherwise healthy and fantastic policy. You can already see this as evidenced by the political squabble over the votes of immigrants among the democratic and republican parties. I believe that we should move closer to an open borders policy as we attempt to curb other problems in our economy. It is also my opinion that we embrace sympathy by not destroying families and create a legal path of residence in the United States for immigrants who are here “illegally”.

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