Everyone but me has been talking about Bush's speech on Monday. I am not too interested in the topic, but a couple of comments relate to things that I care deeply about.
First, to set the stage, I hold the view that the strength of America lies primarily in the ideas around which her culture is based, not the geographical advantages or the ethnic identity of her people. So the issue of illegal immigration is interesting primarily as a casebook of reconciling biblical principles of charity toward strangers with (equally biblical) ideals of the rule of law. The laws must be obeyed, but if the offend against charity they may be changed in an orderly way. This seems pretty obvious and non-controversial, but I am amazed how often people argue either (from the Left) that the laws are unjust so they should be ignored or (from the Right) the laws are the laws so they should never be changed. They don't put it quite like that, of course, but that is what it often amounts to.
OK, that's the background. I was interested to read, in the Corner (here, here and here), that President Bush may very well be operating from similar Christian convictions:
[...]I get asked this question all the time and the conclusion I've come to is this: The president is morally and emotionally opposed to immigration enforcement, especially on the Mexican border. He sees it as uncompassionate and un-Christian, at best a necessary evil that must be entered into with the greatest reluctance and abandoned as soon as is practical.Fascinating.
Of course, this doesn't in itself prevent Bush's policy from being muddled. The rule of law is still important and the law cannot do its job if the expectations are constantly being changed based on expediency. That brings me to the following off-hand remark in Mickey Kaus' critique of the president's immigration policy:
I agree that this is the deal that can be cut--in part because there seems to be nothing all that terrible about a legal guest worker program, as long as it draws its workers from those waiting in line outside the country (and not those who've jumped the queue and already snuck in). Guest workers aren't illegal immigrants, after all--and one way to discourage illegals is to give opportunities to legals.This has always seemed to make the most sense: make legal citizenship as easy as possible so that the incentive to cross illegally is reduced, then come down hard on anyone who still tries to cross illegally. In this scenario, you can be pretty draconian in enforcing the border, since it is reasonably certain that anyone who can't get in legally has malicious intent.
UPDATE: Err, sorry. The link to Kaus' article doesn't go directly to the post I wanted. (I thought he was getting better about that.) The quote is from the 05/17 post at 12:42 AM.