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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Immigration, Federal Duplicity, and Reaction 
31st-Jul-2007 02:28 pm
Inspiration
Fred Thompson has reacted to the latest bone-headedness in the immigration area.

But, back to reality.

Restrictions on immigration are not, as some posit, merely self-interested attempts to escape our moral obligations to others. To be concerned about workers who might be displaced by cheaper immigrant labor and to sympathize with those who find their neighborhoods transformed beyond recognition is not rank self-interest. We have obligations to children whose education suffers while teachers struggle with other students whose command of English is not up to par, and to doctors and nurses whose ability to serve their community is stretched by an influx of poor and uninsured migrants.

Immigration is the tension between a universal duty and a particular duty. We are called to recognize the image of God in every person, and we owe duties to each person. But we also stand in particular relationships with certain persons to whom we bear special responsibilites: sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens. These special relationships channel our potentially endless obligations to persons under God, and make them practicable for us. The world contains millions of needy people. Who do we help? We start with those with whom we stand in special relationship.

Immigration regulations are a way of embodying in policy a preferential love for our fellow citizens and the way of life we share. Such a preference can be overridden, but is not suspect. The point of a comprehensive reform of immigration is to redefine who we are as a nation, not merely to tinker at the edges of gaps in current laws.

So what is my reform agenda? Having sent letters to all my representatives several times over the months, a few political hacks in their office are too familiar with them. But here goes anyway.

First, develop a program to make those who have been here long enough to put down roots into citizens. You can add conditions, like knowing English and paying back taxes or a fine, but they are already Americans in significant degree.

Second, we need to have effective control of our borders. This probably means radar, video, and electronic surveillance over much of it, rather than a wall, but something of the sort is needed.

Third, we need to address the economic needs for labor that our economy generates in a productive way, not simply choking off industry in a time of high employment (like now), but trying more closely to match legal immigration with workforce demands after employing our citizens.

Notice that NONE of this addresses post 9/11 security needs. They are not immigration questions, and are, properly, unrelated to them.

Update Michael Dowling, a friend, writes, "This looks suspiciously like you've read my notes on Peter Meilaender. Either that or you're channeling him." And, as I look back on Michael's correspondence, he's right. Which means he's more influential than I thought. Or I'm more malleable.
Comments 
1st-Aug-2007 01:22 pm (UTC)
This is the best thing I ever read on your blog. Forgive me for saying that sometimes you seem to repeat common conservative views or talking points without looking at them in any depth. This, on the other hand, goes right to the heart of the matter and makes a judicious and important argument, which anyone with a mind must keep into account even if they disagree. I largely - though not wholly - agree, but above all I want to compliment the quality of your thinking. One does not see it every day.
22nd-Aug-2007 03:09 am (UTC)
You're piece reminded me of a conversation that I had with a late friend from Tacoma, Washington some years ago. At the time, he was a union worker for one of the big aerospace companies in the area -- likely Boeing -- and his local branch was meeting to discuss the threat to wages that was being presented by globalization and immigration -- particularly with regards to Mexico.

During the course of our chat, I asked if anyone at the union had thought of changing their tactics from a defensive, protectionist stance to an assertive thrust at supporting Mexican workers, thus reducing the wage gap. He was pretty intrigued by the idea, but it was pretty telling when he told me that none of the union reps or heads had ever proposed such an approach (he said that he'd do it himself, but I've no idea if anything came of it).

These days though, I get the feeling that most unions (American and Canadian) are still adopting the same knee-jerk protectionist response to all threats to the bottom-line.
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