Dum Pendebat Filius

A sniff in the kortevar, that what you cry for, yeled? A prert up the cull, a prang on the dumpendebat?

Anti-immigrant fervor

There’s a very good op-ed piece in today’s Post on the subject of anti-immigrant fervor, and its potential to cause a political backlash.

You, faithful DPF readers, will recall the Herndon controversy of this past summer (see “Herndon Day-Labor” and “NoVa Hate”). It takes only a few seconds for any discussion of immigration, legal and illegal, to deteriorate into a completely gut-based shouting match.

For what it’s worth, readers, I don’t really know what my own position on immigration is. It’s one of those topics where there’s no meaningful discussion coming from either side of the political fence. I know this is overstating the case, but this is what it looks like to me:

  • The right-wingers claim carefully that they’re only opposed to illegal immigration, but then they negate that statement by launching xenophobic tirades. The worst offenders (e.g. the execrable Michael Savage) even spread pernicious propaganda about Hispanic disease-carriers slithering north in germ-clouded hordes, coming to make us white folks sick while they use up all our public relief funds, etc, etc.
  • The left-wingers see the issue through sepia-toned glasses, in a mental atmosphere of soft music and flowers, disembodied daisies floating freely in space. To the left-winger, the issue is simple: either you’re a good person who loves immigrants, or you’re a wicked person who hates them. That’s about the extent of what the left wing has to say on the matter. Sorry, but that’s not good enough.

Having said this, I want to highlight some parts of this op-ed piece that make the same point I’ve tried to make before, although with more punch and economy than I’m able to bring to my own prose:

Substantial numbers of immigrants (not to mention their children and grandchildren, too) hear attacks on “illegal” immigration as attacks on them — so that a discussion of, say, day laborers can quickly turn into an anti-Hispanic free-for-all.

Hispanics know from experience that most people can’t tell the difference between legal and illegal immigrants or, in many cases, between immigrants and U.S.-born, Spanish-speaking Hispanics — so they just assume the worst absent proof to the contrary. [...]

Republicans embrace anti-immigrant fervor at their peril. The party is perilously close to adopting as its immigration policy the hanging of a “closed” sign on the border. To do so would be a gross mistake that would oversimplify the problem and set back all the efforts of President Bush to build bridges to America’s growing population of Hispanics while finding a workable solution to a complex problem, one with far-ranging political consequences for the party over the long run.

To be sure, the issue of illegal immigration is a serious one that needs and deserves to be addressed: No one should make light of the genuine resentment some people feel. Almost 40 years of immigrant vote-buying by advocates of the liberal welfare state has only made matters worse. The point the party must absorb is that while it’s one thing to talk about specific policies, it’s quite another to issue broadsides that reinforce the perception of a Republican Party that is, in its soul, intolerant.

Republicans would do well to recognize the folly in the approach used by Kilgore before recommending it to other candidates. Rather than a comprehensive approach to the problem broadly defined as immigration, they would do well to break it down into its constituent parts: border security, public policies that inhibit assimilation, the issue of guest workers and the problem of illegal immigration itself. It is time to recognize that the problem may be too big and too complex to approach with one big bill.

Ham-fisted attacks by Kilgore and others on illegal immigrants, while political red meat for some, cause many in our coalition — particularly Hispanics and suburban women — to recoil. For them, such attacks run counter to the Reaganite image of America as a welcoming land of opportunity, a place where anyone can — through hard work, smarts and a little luck — pursue happiness as the Founding Fathers intended. Immigrants from around the world made this country, and immigrants will continue to make this country a better place, a fact that no great political party can ignore for long.

That’s good writing, readers, and it’s a very good point.

Filed under: Political by dumpendebat at 2005/11/19 - 12:30


  1. lycfyg-LQ:

    Hey stupid, if you don’t have borders - you don’t have a country.
    If legal immigrants do not join the ranks of your country - you have a divided country.
    I would check to see if your deck has every card in it.
    Nope, you are a liberal.

  2. dumpendebat:

    Take a deep breath, calm yourself down, and then try leaving a comment that actually addresses something in the blog post. What is it with you and the nasty comments?

  3. RP:

    Glad to see your back!

    Concerns over who to allow to immigrate have always been part of our national discourse. Hell, Franklin worried about political enclaves of German immigrants. Recently though it’s gotten really ugly. True colors are being flown. Immigration from Mexico really stirs the passions of “White America.” 150 years after disgracefully attacking Mexico in order to expand slavery assholes like Savage feel compelled to argue that we are under siege from “dirty Mexicans” who want to take every thing hard working Americans have labored for. As with many arguments from these hard right fascists, it would be funny if they weren’t so determined to have their way.

    Simply being born here is sort of like starting off on 3rd base. At least one of your readers DPF thinks he’s hit a triple. Our country is so much more than its geographical demarcations LQ.

  4. dumpendebat:

    The thing is, I don’t remember ever stating anywhere that I felt we should not have borders, nor do I think I said anything about legal immigrants joining (or not joining) the ranks of our country. That’s why I don’t understand what made Lycfyg angry this time. Usually he manages to have a reason for calling me stupid.

    I think maybe it’s just his way of telling me Welcome back from my blogging break.

  5. Hanque:

    How come RP gets to see your back and others don’t?

    One problem with approaching this issue under multiple bills is that if one bill tanks, it could undermine the efficacy of the remaining bills and whole policy that might eventually pass. Example: The legislature may pass effective bills on health care issues and immigration, but it might not pass a bill related to immigration law enforcement. If the law enforcement aspects of the whole policy aren’t enacted, it could undermine the health care aspects by overtaxing the health care system with too many immigrants. If a collective bill is passed, it will guarantee funding for all the issues it contains. It will set a comprehensive policy instead of a partial policy that requires a lot of babysitting and cooperation to even get it enacted.

    Additionally, getting bills through congress is notoriously difficult. It costs more money and takes up more time. Sessions have to be convened more frequently and anyone in opposition to the bill can tank it easily using simple parliamentary tactics. It’s difficult to get things done in the legislature, so I think that pragmatically we should approach it in one vote. Sort it out at the committee level and use the congressional staff and experts effectively. They do this all the time and they’re effective at it. Plus, more bills = more riders and more pork. One omnibus bill provides less opportunities for riders and pork.

    Also, there are greater opportunities for the bills to die in committee if there are too many of them. A big bill can probably make it through easier. Plus the minority party can exert a good deal of influence at the committee level and bring its effective power to bear in one campaign. This is important. If the bill is split up, each aspect of the issue could be lost in the legislative fog and the issues could drop off the constituent radar and out of the press. How many people care about immigrant education initiatives or health care? I would guess that most people don’t. But, most people do care about law enforcement. So the minority democrats can push education and health care by supporting law enforcement in the bill. It’s a better way for the democrats to gain concessions and be effective.

    Also, approaching an issue with one omnibus bill has been used effectively in the past. Some examples of this are COBRA and HIPAA. These two acts really cover a lot of ground and have helped reshape critical issues related to health care.

    I think approaching this issue with more than one bill is less effective. I would argue that it’s in everybody’s interest to go after this issue with a single legislative act.

    I leave you freaks with two tasty links:

    (read the post from 12/18/2003 on the below)


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