Thursday, March 10, 2016

Attacking Immigration Reform

If someone is a proponent of "comprehensive immigration reform" that includes a path to citizenship, last night's Democratic debate is probably cause for indigestion.  For those who missed that spectacle, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders edged pretty close to signing on to the agenda of bad-faith open borders in perpetuity: both nearly implied that it was immoral to enforce immigration law at all.

It's obvious that refusing to enforce immigration law would increase illegal immigration and all the civil disruptions and human-rights abuses that illegal immigration entails.  But, leaving that issue aside, efforts at comprehensive immigration reform are troubled by statements by Sanders and Clinton to the effect that, if they're president, they'll make NOT enforcing immigration law a top priority.

A huge deficit of trust is one of the biggest obstacles to granting citizenship or even legal status to current illegal immigrants.  In 1986, amnesty was exchanged for promises of enforcement.  These promises were not delivered on, and the illegal-immigrant population exploded in the two decades after Reagan's amnesty.  The failures of the 1986 amnesty have again and again mobilized opposition to efforts to "comprehensively" legalize current illegal immigrants.  Even many opponents of the Beltway's version of immigration reform--including Mark Krikorian and Mickey Kaus--are open to the idea of legalization for illegal immigrants, but they stipulate that such a legalization requires a record of immigration enforcement.  If real efforts at enforcement and reforms of the legal-immigration system are put in place, it seems very possible that a compromise on mass legalization could be arrived at.

However, if the Democratic party pledges that immigration law will never be enforced, that compromise becomes much less attainable.  In order to pander to open-borders elements in the progressive coalition, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders may be torpedoing the long-term hopes of a path to citizenship.

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