The Real Immigration Challenge

Back in the 1990s, Newt Gingrich observed that every society faces an immigration challenge (this was when he was a somewhat more reliable ideas man). He said that there are geographic immigrants (who come from some other place), and there are temporal immigrants (who are born into society). It is . . . . Continue Reading »

Conservatives and Low-Skilled Workers

People in the Republican establishment have been suggesting that conservatives can either try to appeal to working-class whites by supporting limits to future immigration levels, or they can try to appeal to Hispanics by seeking to increase future immigration levels. The truth is that conservatives have never had to make this choice. In 2012, Republicans chose to alienate both working-class whites and Hispanics. In the future, conservatives should try to appeal to both groups by focusing on the economic priorities of those groups rather than ethnic gamesmanship.In the 2012 campaign, Romney's combination of economic priorities and immigration messaging proved especially toxic. On immigration, Romney advocated no amnesty and hoped that current unauthorized immigrants would self-deport. For Hispanics (and possibly even for Asians—among whom Romney did even worse than among Hispanics), the message was that Romney’s love for business owners was exceeded only by contempt for immigrants (legal and illegal). Continue Reading »

A Broken Immigration Debate

In 2010, 54 percent of Americans thought our immigration system was broken. Today, that number is 74 percent. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post contends that this means “immigration reform” is winning.This seems a strange comment, because public fears about our defunct immigration system don’t guarantee better policy. We could, by a seeming lack of options, simply exacerbate all that is worst in our current immigration system. Alternatively, critics of the current system could begin the process of creating a broad-based reform coalition. Continue Reading »

Opportunity and Incentives

President Obama’s recent actions to effectively exempt millions of unauthorized immigrants from deportation and to issue them work permits has caused frustration among many who believe that neither the precedents nor the law support the his actions. The president’s opponents have focused on what can done in the short-term to reverse his executive orders, or at least make him pay a political price. But rather than simply reacting, conservatives should learn from their experiences with Obamacare. In the short-term,, the ability of the Republican Congress to reverse the president’s executive orders or repeal Obamacare is very limited. It matters much more what President Obama’s opponents are prepared to do the next time they wield greater policymaking power. Continue Reading »

The Conservative Principle in Obama’s Refusal to Act

Conservatives have been critiquing President Obama’s proposed executive amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. But the principle underlying the proposal is one that conservatives might want to accept rather than criticize. He is refusing, under certain conditions, to take action authorized by law. That is, he is choosing to allow certain categories of private action to stand by refusing to apply authorized responses. Continue Reading »

Conservatives’ Mixed Message on Immigration

America has “bad-faith open borders.” We limit immigration but we enforce those limits only sporadically. Fred Bauer argues that this “is a distorted hybrid of the United States’ tradition of ordered borders and of the transnationalist aim of entirely open borders.” The distortion is real, but it is not rooted entirely in transnationalism. It is also rooted in a certain kind of American exceptionalism that has a history on the right, but that conservatives don’t talk about very much. Getting past “bad-faith open borders” will require rejecting romanticism and looking to the facts of the American present. Continue Reading »

Tragic Compassion

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 90,000 unaccompanied minors will be apprehended attempting to enter the United States this year, up from 40,000 last year. DHS expects the number to grow to more than 140,000 next year. Ranging in age from six to seventeen, many of these minors travel more than 1700 treacherous miles from Honduras across Guatemala and Mexico. Continue Reading »