A New Recruit to the Enforcement-First Caucus

By Mark Krikorian on June 29, 2010

Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal has come around to enforcement-first perspective; his column can be summed up by its subtitle: "Secure the border and a healthy debate might follow."

McGurn opens his column well enough, but after condemning "those who effectively oppose real enforcement of any immigration law," he resorts to a false equivalence:

For too long, the immigration debate has been bogged down in accusations about ultimate motives. Pro-immigration people accuse the anti-immigration folks of racism, while the anti's accuse the pro's of shilling for big business by importing cheap labor. If we can suck this poison out of the air—by showing the American people a secure border—it's hard to believe a healthier debate won't follow.

But it's the "pro-immigration people" — both right and left — who are the reason we don't have a secure border in the first place. It's not an "accusation about ultimate motives" to observe that if pro-immigration Republicans like McGurn and his employer had been vigorously supporting immigration enforcement all along (and not just at the border), we might already have a healthier debate and, who knows, might even have amnestied some of the more sympathetic illegal aliens by now.

I for one don't doubt the purity of McGurn's motives, but if he wants to understand the politics of immigration, he needs to accept that much of the rest of the high-immigration right is as opposed to immigration enforcement as their comrades on the left.

One of the comments following the column sums up the dominant perspective of the high-immigration folks: "Americans are the problem. Majority of them are simply wrong on the immigration issue." That being the case, non-enforcement of immigration law is the second-best option to ensure a continued flow of foreign workers, at least until the public changes its mind and the illegal flow created by non-enforcement can finally be formalized through changes in the law.