Friday, August 24, 2007

Backbone? Values? - Nah, just listen to the pollsters.

I really like the ECONOMIST, and sometimes, I like articles of the Wall Street Journal as well. On one issue, they both get it totally wrong: illegal immigration. It starts with bashing those who oppose the illegality and those who oppose immigration as a whole alike, and goes on by mixing all kinds of arguments only to make the point that the U.S. needs immigrants.

There's one point that really worries me. Couple of weeks ago, the Economist warned:

In the long term, though, anti-immigrant hardliners are likely to suffer most. Latino voters are growing quickly in number (see article) and history suggests they will punish intolerant talk on immigration. Mark DiCamillo, a pollster, points out that California's Hispanics used to lean only slightly leftwards. In 1990, for example, they favoured Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic candidate for governor, over Pete Wilson, a Republican, by 53% to 47%. Then in 1994 came a ballot initiative, supported by Mr Wilson, which sought to make life much more difficult for illegal immigrants. Since then California's Latinos have favoured Democrats by a margin of between two-to-one and four-to-one.
Today, Kimberly A. Strassel from WSJ's editorial board follows:

[F]or every base Republican who is gratified by talk of ID cards and border patrols, there's an entire family of Hispanic immigrants who are absorbing the mean language of "sanctuary cities," "lawbreakers" and "deportation." Many of these folks are religious, entrepreneurial, and true believers in the American dream; as such, they're the biggest new voting potential the Republican Party has seen in ages. But a growing number, just like those Catholics of yore, are angered by the recent rhetoric and wondering why they should pull a lever for any party that would go out of its way to tag their community as the source of America's problems.
So, to cross the border illegally does not involve breaking the law? And the American dream means leaving your family, crossing the border illegally, working illegally, hoping everyone involved keeps a blind eye and finally the government changes things for the better by launching a big "naturalisation campaign" (or similar - I still prefer the term amnesty here.)? This is what the American Dream consists of? If so, I have to recalibrate my mind set. Hands down, most of the Hispanic immigrants are religious and entrepreneurial - but you can't call yourself neither if not obeying by the law in the first place.

But what bothers me most is this idea not to ask whether something is right or wrong, but whether a large group of voters will react irresponsible. If Hispanic voters are really going to turn their back on those politicians who opposed the latest attempt of immigration reform - well, then be it. But I really doubt that. Plus, I doubt that it's a good idea to give the signal: "Hey, just threaten me a little and I'm doing what you want!".

A final point. In another piece, the Economist ranted:

[T]he immigration problem remains unsolved. The border enforcement system remains overwhelmed. Hostility to migrants remains high, even though large parts of the economy depend on migrant labour. Some 12m or more people are left toiling in the shadows, just as before, with many more to follow. The abject failure of this bill suggests any future efforts at reform will be similarly mired.
All those problems exist. But none of them would have been targeted, let alone solved, by the immigration reform that failed in June. And if the perspective of getting legalization within a decade or so isn't a bold incentive for more illegal immigration, what is?

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