Sunday, November 22, 2009

Illegal Immigrants and Conservatives

Via Memeorandum:

In the Boston Globe Jeff Jacoby writes:

YOU’RE A sensible, principled conservative. You want America to be a land of boundless opportunity and freedom, where people are treated as individuals and judged on their merits. You reject the divisive identity politics of the left - what matters most about any of us, you would insist, is not race or class or ethnic origins: it is personal character and achievement. There are few things about contemporary politics you deplore more than the demonizing or scapegoating of entire groups (“white males,’’ “the rich,’’ “the Christian right,’’ “gun owners’’), as though every member of the group is interchangeable and indistinguishable, wholly defined by a single disparaging label.

But let someone mention “illegal immigrants,’’ and your principles fly out the window.
So why is Jacoby accusing Conservatives of being unprincipled on illegal immigration?

So when Governor Deval Patrick recommends allowing young illegal immigrants - residents of Massachusetts who have graduated from high school - to attend a public college and pay in-state tuition, you flip out. This is outrageous, you protest. It rewards people who broke the rules. It’s unfair to the taxpayers who subsidize public higher education. Why should an illegal immigrant get a valuable tuition break that Massachusetts wouldn’t give to a kid from Maine or New Hampshire?

You vigorously agree with Charlie Baker, a Republican candidate for governor. “If you’re illegally here, you’re illegally here,’’ Baker said last week. “The notion that we should treat illegal immigrants with the same benefits and opportunities that legal immigrants and legal citizens have doesn’t make any sense to me.’’

It is dispiriting to see Baker, a man of considerable intellectual heft, stoop to such shallow sloganeering. It is even more dispiriting to see conservatives assail immigrants instead of the insane immigration system that gave most of them no legal way to enter the United States. On the whole, illegal immigrants are just the sort of newcomers Americans should embrace: self-motivated risk-takers, strivers determined to improve themselves, hard-working men and women willing to take the meanest jobs if it will give them a shot at building their own American dream. Why would we want to punish them? Why would we want to punish their kids?
It is true, as Jacoby sates, that most immigrants have no way to enter the country legally. However, I reject Jacoby's suggestion that living in the United States is just another entitlement program.

As citizens we have a right to say who can and cannot enter our borders. Granted, we have done a piss poor job of keeping people from coming in illegally but that does not mean that once here, we are obligated to let them stay. And we certainly aren't obligated to give them the privileges we afford to our citizens and those in the country legally.

Jacoby knows that his argument doesn't hold salt so he tries to pull at the heart strings:

A couple from Brazil, seeking a better life for themselves and their 2-month-old daughter, enter the United States unlawfully. They settle in Massachusetts, where 18 years later the girl graduates from a public high school, as assimilated and acculturated an American as her classmates in every respect - except that they are US citizens, and she, by virtue of a decision made when she was a baby, is not. Her classmates can attend the University of Massachusetts, paying $9,704 a year in tuition, the price tag for Massachusetts residents. She can attend only if she pays the out-of-state rate of $22,157; if that’s more than she can afford, she’s out of luck.

Breaking the law often has consequences that don't show themselves until long after the fact. The Brazilian girl's parents are responsible for her situation, not the citizens of Massachusetts. It may not seem "fair" but alot of things aren't fair.

My daughter saved every penny she had so that when she turned sixteen she could buy a car and afford the minimum insurance to put it on the road. Was it "fair" that an illegal immigrant blew through a stop sign at a high rate of speed because he was drunk at nine o'clock in the morning, totally my daughter's car, injuring her and just missing another car that had three small children in it? Note: he came up missing from the hospital and is presumably living just fine somewhere in the United States-illegally. Is it fair that last year two women were locking up a local watering hole when they were kidnapped at gun point by three illegals who spent the next several hours raping them?

Illegal immigrants are by definition criminals. The majority will never break another law while living here but Jacoby should reserve his sympathy for his fellow citizens not those who should not be here.

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