May 30 2006

Conservatives Don’t Get It On Immigration

Published by at 8:51 am under All General Discussions,Illegal Immigration

I have read all across the major conservative sites where people say we cannot have an comprehensive bill on immigration (i.e., expand the guest worker program and document the immigrant workers) because it is not where ‘the people’ are.  That’s a hoot.  It is were most of us our except the far right conservatives.  Check out this reasoning from John McIntyre at RCP (someone I admire a great deal):

This is a critical juncture for the GOP on illegal immigration and how to fashion a comprehensive solution to the broader immigration debate.  …  This past weekend two beltway icons, David Broder on Meet the Press and Bill Kristol on FOX News Sunday, encapsulated the conventional wisdom by saying President Bush would benefit from passing a comprehensive reform bill. They are wrong – especially if we are talking about any compromise that looks remotely like the Senate bill that passed with 85% Democratic support over the objections of nearly 2/3rd of Senate Republicans. Kristol, Broder and the majority of establishment intelligentsia don’t appreciate the political dynamics at play in the broad middle of the country.

Actually they do.  The broad middle is not ready to make felons out of people who work for a living.  I live in Herndon, ground zero in this debate.  The issue of illegal immigrants is hot here ever since the town council decided to create a magnet for day workers to hang out and find work.  The problem was unemployed people massing in large numbers near neighborhoods where they would just hang out all day.  They never addressed that with the day worker center – they just moved it from one place to the other.  That is not a guest worker program!  Note that these people are not working and that is the problem.  And yes, do not use our tax dollars to promote illegal acts.  That was adding insult to injury.

You will find large group houses in our neighborhoods that violate our neighborhood bylaws and have traffic in and out of them 24 x 7.  It takes months to get  rid of the excess people if they want to stay in the house.  This is also not a guest worker program.  These people need to follow our by-laws and stop overcrowding rentals.

On the flip side, there are many immigrant families who work hard and live in the area and are our neighbors.  No one is ready to see them rounded up out of their homes and schools.  No one.  There are problems, but we don’t want the Police State to come in fully armed and threatening to deal with them at gunpoint.  We want a better solution. We want a comprehensive solution.

The ‘middle of America’ is much more sophisticated than people realize.  Check out these poll numbers:

Dowd’s memo says that an internal RNC poll conducted by Jan Van Louhuzen finds that “overwhelming support exists for a temporary worker program. 80% of all voters, 83% of Republicans, and 79% of self-identified conservatives support a temporary worker program as long as immigrants pay taxes and obey the law.”

There is no way 20% of the people on the right make up the American Middle.  What conservatives risk is alienating the 80% who don’t just oppose their ideas, they viscerally despise them and how they have been communicated (the old ‘you are with us or you are scum’ approach).  The overheated rhetoric took a really nasty idea like deportation and just made it even uglier.

McIntyre is right, this needs to be handled carefully else all the trust that has been built up over the years convincing people conservatism is not some mean, heartless, ugly variation on the Nazi’s (the favorite spin of liberals) will be lost.

There is a quiet rage building among average middle class folks on the illegal immigration issue, and if the Republican leadership doesn’t take control of the problem very soon they will allow the more extremist wings of the anti-immigration debate to become the face of the Republican party on immigration.

Actually, that has already happened.  And it is working against the Republicans and Conservatives. Right now I oppose any idea of rounding up people at gunpoint and deporting them so much I would – easily and without a second thought – work to tear down the Republican majorities to avoid that policy.

The Miers fiasco was an early indication of the dark side of conservative mob-think.  It was all kicked off by David Frum at National Review who clearly had a personal ax to grind against Ms Miers, and a lot of people blindly played along in his vendetta.  But Frum’s vendetta would never change the face of America.

The Dubai ports fiasco was also driven by fear and ignorance – but this time it was more than someone’s personal issues.  We successfully insulted the best ally we have in the Middle East and spurned a country that was willing to pay for the installation and use of the most sophisticated cargo screening systems at their ports world wide.  That would have meant goods coming here would be checked prior to leaving the foreign port.  That PR disaster pretty much convinced me the conservative movement had run out of gas and was flailing around trying to find something relevant and big to debate.  And it came very close to impacting us as a nation.

How we treat immigrants (and people in general) is another thing all together.  That is the essence of America.  It has been our edge and superiority over the rest of the world.  We did not treat people differently based on nationality or culture. American’s also never used laws about simple paperwork to disrupt peoples’ lives.  It takes massive fraud for these so called ‘white collar’ crimes to invoke jail time.

Libertarian conservatives, in the old days, would never reach for a silly number pulled out of Congress’ wide posterior to be the basis to brow beat and harrass people.  The difference between a legal guest worker and illegal one is where they were in the line to get permission to come here.  Congress thinks up some number each year, based on absolutely nothing, and declares that the number of immigrant workers we need each year, all year.  It is abritrary and, like most things out of Congress, totally irrelevant to reality.  That number separates a person working to raise a family from his neighbor – nothing more.  That is the basis for be called a law breaker.

That is like saying the first 50 people who speed by a radar trap will be allowed to go free and the remaining will be ticketed to the fullest extent of the law.  The same actions are legal for those under the number and illegal for those over it.  And I cannot for the life of me find any reason to deport (or harrass people to the point they are forced to leave) someone based on such a ludicrous thing as this number.

The American people understand there is no simple, magic-bullet solution.  Conservatives would be wise to stop trying to convince us there is.  At this point, I am wondering what other descriptive term I can use to describe my political views, since Rep and Con are becoming so tainted that I find it harder and harder to identify myself that way.

I have shunned becoming a Republican (again).  Reagan and Bush nearly got me to join up. The loud mouths in their parties reminded me why I refute partisanship.  The ‘follow or else’ mentality in both parties is completely un-American.  America was supposed to be about ‘work together and find a solution’.  But cons are now worried that Bush has found some Democratic supporters for his immigration plan.  If Democratic support is all the conservatives have to wail against, then (a) they are completely out of arguments on the policy and (b) they are heading down the wrong path with Americans.  Democratic support is no more wrong than Republican support.  It was OK when we went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

America deserves a comprehensive solution to a very complex problem which has been simmering for decades.  We do not deserve arguments like ‘this cannot be right because they are for it more than we are’.  We deserve much better than that and we are waiting to see if anyone can deliver.

49 responses so far

49 Responses to “Conservatives Don’t Get It On Immigration”

  1. The Macker says:

    “And while illegals represent 5% of our national population, they represent 29% of the federal prison population”

    hmm.. Would this include sentences for immigration law violation?

  2. retire05 says:


    You can research it from there.

    You can also find out how many are incarcerated for immigration law violation on the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.

  3. SallyVee says:

    Thank you for this oasis of reasonable discussion on immigration. I am a lifelong registered Republican and self-described conservative. But if the Malkin crowd turns out to really represent today’s “conservatives,” I will have to find a new label. This whole situation is out of control and very, very upsetting to me.

    Commenter Terrye above has written many of my same thoughts and observations. I especially thank her/him for bringing up the July election in Mexico. I cannot believe that no alleged conservatives even mention this, except for one courageous nat’l talk show host – Michael Medved. You should hear Medved debate the loons and shred their arguments.

    Rush has completely switched on the issue and is now sounding like a blog-o-botic tool. As Terrye pointed out, he was caught absolutely flat-footed by Tony Snow last week — on the misdemeanor point and a couple other points. I’ve been listening to Rush for so long, it’s like knowing when my own husband is fudging or faking or obfuscating. I swear, Rush was robotically reading off of the daily Raging Right Wingding talking points. He was not convinced himself, and he was therefore completely unconvincing to me. I haven’t listened to him since that interview. But I do worry, because he IS influential.

    AJ, Terrye, et al. Question: I read the whole McIntyre piece because the excerpts were so interesting. But the whole piece left me somewhat confused. It seemed a bit schizophrenic in places. I guess he’s saying the GOP should emphasize enforcement and knock off the “Senseless-brenner” no-amnesty-ever rhetoric. But that leaves someone like me in the lurch. Because I WANT the path to citizenship and indeed think it’s a critical part of the whole solution. He mentions a compromise bill but doesn’t really spell out what he means… or am I missing something?

    I’d be interested in any comments or clarifications. This is all so confusing and polarized.

  4. AJStrata says:


    Welcome to the oasis. I may have time to post on this more later, but the folks like Malkin are a very small minority 20-25% max. Their struggling with their first major failure, and turning it into a spectacular failure. The McIntyre piece illustrates the issue. I too found it schizophrenic. I was not sure what side he was on. Powerline’s “Paul” wrote a post saying a measure that is approved 80=20 is not really telling the true story- the 20 is the majority! Sorry, but in 80-20 polls you cannot bias them. They see the issue is ruining the governing coalition, they just cannot face the fact they are on the wrong side, It may not be fixed for years to come now.

  5. MerryJ1 says:


    You didn’t indicate which post you were refuting, re: “…more of an economic problem than a police problem…” so I’m not certain whether that responded to my “… it’s primarily a money issue…”

    If not, I apologize. But if so, I was addressing only the basically sincere element who want to come here to live, work, and create their own opportunities for a better life. Most of these are essentially decent people who want to be good citizens and good neighbors. I would never begrudge them a shot at the brass ring.

    Criminal elements, whether home-grown or foreign born, are a completely different matter. I’m fully aware of how much less discriminating and more deadly some of the foreign drug/gang thugs are than most of our own home-grown variety, and I’m no bleeding heart.

    Quite frankly, if I were a property owner at the border confronted by some of the (reported) theft, vandalism, bodily injury and threats created by illegals who are criminals, I’d probably keep a supply of unregistered throw-aways handy (which I’d have sent someone across the border to purchase) to keep self-defense options viable. Just in case.

    Conversely, if I were born a citizen of a hopelessly corrupt, oppressive and broken society located a few days or weeks walking distance from a land of liberty and opportunity — by hook or by crook, I’d get there.

    But that’s just me.

  6. MerryJ1 says:

    PS Retired05:

    “…make the Mafia of Al Capone look like…”

    Al Capone was never Mafia. His family came from Naples, and in fact he got his facial scar from a Sicilian barber in New York who had refused him a Mafioso haircut (“Napilitano! No!”)

    The barber was a bit insulting as he spat his refusal, Capone cracked him with a shaving mug and the barber, straight razor still in hand, flicked his wrist at Capone’s cheek.

    Shortly thereafter, the barber lost a rematch to a machine gun.

  7. SallyVee says:

    How did this 20-25% minority end up with so much clout… or is that a misperception because of their decibel levels and persistence?

    I don’t mind a group of hard-liners committed to a cause attempting to influence the public. I’d even go so far as to say the hard-liners on immigration are doing their part to keep the Senate honest and help pull the negotiations and national conversation to the right on enforcement — which I’m all for. Fine.

    What bothers me is the deception and convenient myth-making from these saintly purists. And so much of it seems aimed at demonizing a mostly peaceful, useful, and hard-working block of people — and yes, potential voters! Where the hell are they going with these tactics?

    By this point, a unified Right Wing should be focused on things like the assimilation process, how to streamline legal immigration, how to pay for the necessary beefing up of security, etc. We should be arguing the details and the mechanics. But instead, it seems we can’t get past the insane demand to deport 11 million people (or whatever the real number is)! This is what caught me by surprise… I never took that position seriously, and I am now stunned that so many people seem stuck on stupid and unable to get past it.

  8. SallyVee says:

    Another thought. We on the right like to make fun of the Kos Kids and that group’s undue influence on the entire Democrat party. It’s starting to look like we have our own gang of punks wagging the GOP dog. If it’s an all or nothing proposition, no good can come of it.

  9. sweetness says:

    How many crimes are they commiting today. Reports of puppy rape D.U.I.and any thing else you can think of.500k illegal crimnals on the streets of our country.No one can tell AJStrata why they should deport them…Left by sweetness