Four Questions About Immigration
The issue that won't go away.
3:36 PM, May 6, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
When I first heard about Arizona law SB 1070, I was taken aback. Press coverage suggested the law authorized state and local police to go around demanding someone's papers on the slightest suspicion that he or she is an illegal immigrant. The clear implication was that Hispanic communities would be targeted. And since this seemed to violate constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure and equality before the law, my inclination was to oppose the bill.
However, the more you read about the Arizona law, the more you realize the press is so committed to a "racism" narrative that they haven't told the full story. Heather Mac Donald provides a typically lucid analysis of the bill here:
Now, in my opinion, workplace enforcement is a better way to deter illegal immigration, because it raises the price of illegal labor. Immigration is a supply and demand problem: the demand for cheap labor in the United States produces the supply of illegal immigrants. Cut the demand and the supply will dwindle. Nevertheless, after reading Mac Donald's piece, along with Christopher Caldwell's, David Frum's, and George Will's recent columns on the subject, SB 1070 looks like a desperate, slightly inflammatory, yet more or less reasonable attempt to address a pressing issue. The state is trying to make federal immigration laws work. Marco Rubio and Phil Jackson (!) agree. Here's Jackson:
The reaction to SB 1070 is as interesting as the bill itself. The hysteria, the boycotts, the rallies, and "Los Suns" suggest that, in the future, immigration, not health care, might be regarded as the dominant domestic issue of our time. The problem is that a lot of people who are worried about Arizona -- myself included! -- seem to want it both ways. They want America to remain a beacon for immigrants, a welcoming country that treats everyone equally. But they also want to uphold the rule of law and the principle that a country is sovereign over its borders. Too often, the latter goal is seen to conflict with the former. So here are four questions for opponents of SB 1070 who claim not to embrace the radical, open borders position that ruled until 1875:
1. Does the law have meaning? That is, if Congress has declared certain forms of migration illegal, isn't the state (broadly construed) required to enforce those laws?
2. Does illegal immigration suppress the wages of low-skilled workers?
3. Does America have the right to fence its borders?
4. Of which enforcement measures should we approve?
After due consideration, it's hard to answer Yes to questions one, two, and three, and not think SB 1070 is a basically sensible answer to question four.
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