Saturday, January 22, 2005
On this day:

Bush Loses Sight of Nat'l Security with Immigration

National Review / Digital: Bush’s Unwelcome Welcome Mat -- Divorced from reality on immigration by JOHN O’SULLIVAN
Bush himself has repeated that he intends to liberalize immigration policy. And if a man repeatedly does something apparently out of character, his neighbors are bound eventually to revise their opinion of his character. The first post-election controversy was whether intelligence reform should include measures against illegal immigration. When the White House lobbied furiously to remove such controls from the bill, the lesson was driven home that the Bush administration was determined to make immigration easier and more abundant. Again, people inevitably noticed — including the increasingly alienated rank and file of the GOP. In short, the great tectonic plates of elite support for mass immigration and popular resistance to it are beginning to grind against each other. A major earthquake seems to be in prospect. In these circumstances small changes can create large shocks. Just recently two publications — which a year ago might have passed relatively unnoticed — have jolted the political world. The first is the illustrated guide, published by the Mexican government, for Mexicans intending to immigrate to the U.S. It begins quite piously by suggesting that the best way to emigrate to the U.S. is via a legal American visa. Then it gets to the point. It lays out guidelines for the best and safest way to cross into the U.S. illegally, suggesting for instance that would-be immigrants walk during times of low heat, add salt to water to avoid dehydration, cross rivers only in light clothing, and so on. This guide makes the Mexican government the accomplice of anyone seeking to enter the U.S. illegally. Some politicians and journalists claim to be shocked that illegality is going on in the Mexican government. But this publication merely formalizes what everyone has long known: Mexico encourages its citizens to go north. Nor is there any mystery why. Illegal immigration allows the Mexican elite to reduce social and political unrest without reforming Mexico’s economy by exporting its unemployed. Once in the U.S., these Mexican emigrants are encouraged to retain their citizenship, their language, their culture, their family links, and their national identity (even while becoming U.S. citizens legally). Again, the reason is simple. Mexican governments hope to build strong pressure groups for Mexico within the U.S. Illegal migration makes Mexican elites more secure at home and more influential abroad. Why should they ever renounce it? What is shocking is the reaction of the United States. A State Department spokesman said: “Both the United States and the Mexican government have a strong commitment to ensuring that migration into the United States is safe, orderly, and legal.” I count five falsehoods in that statement. (It would have been six except that the illustrated migrant guide suggests that at least Mexico wants migration to the U.S. to be safe.) But the media reaction was different. In the past, newspaper editorialists have been reliable cheerleaders for open immigration. Under pressure from talk radio and bloggers, however, the establishment media are changing their tone: Several metropolitan newspapers called for a crackdown and official protests to Mexico. [...] If there really are 15 to 20 million illegal aliens in the U.S., then their output accounts for much of the acclaimed productivity “miracle”; their non-payment of taxes explains much, if not all, of the large budget deficits; and legalizing them (while it would produce a rise in tax revenue) would also stimulate a much larger rise in welfare and other costs as they became eligible for programs such as food stamps. (They are already eligible for free emergency medical care, and their children for public education.) McTague even suggests that their legalization could create a situation not unlike that of German reunification, which triggered huge increases in demand for social services. So: If we are unsure of the costs of our existing immigration levels, should we be blithely planning to increase them?