Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

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Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Immigration (i.e., of Hispanics into the United States, because we all know the Senate isn't debating any other kind this week)

1. Bill Kristol, in a Weekly Standard editorial:
Okay. Let's not talk about substance--since the pro-immigration forces have in fact been winning that debate easily. Let's talk about ballot boxes.

Dana Rohrabacher has represented a safe GOP seat in Orange County for almost two decades. He's chosen never to run statewide. In California, Republican governor Pete Wilson exploited the immigration issue to help get reelected in 1994, and the voters passed a Republican-backed anti-immigration measure, proposition 187. No Republican candidate except the idiosyncratic Arnold Schwarzenegger has won statewide since.

Virgil Goode has a safe GOP seat in Southside Virginia. He's never run statewide. Last fall, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Jerry Kilgore, tried to exploit illegal immigration by denouncing a local community that wanted to build a shelter that might accommodate some illegals. He lost, in a red state, a race he had been favored to win.

Anti-immigration yahoo Tom Tancredo carried the sixth district of Colorado comfortably in 2004 (though running slightly behind pro-immigration George W. Bush). But in Tancredo's state, the GOP did miserably in 2004, with Democrat Ken Salazar winning the Senate seat and Democrats gaining control of both houses of the legislature. Meanwhile, in the safe fifth district of Iowa, Steve King did run two points ahead of George W. Bush in 2004. King was able to outspend his challenger 10-1, while Bush faced a huge Kerry effort in that swing state.

Four GOP senators voted in the Senate Judiciary Committee for the comprehensive immigration bill these blustering House members believe is electoral suicide: Arlen Specter, elected and reelected in blue state Pennsylvania; Mike DeWine, elected and reelected in swing state Ohio; and Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, and Sam Brownback from Kansas--both very popular in their red states. John McCain, lead sponsor of a bill that resembles the Senate Judiciary Committee bill, has a pretty impressive electoral record in Arizona, a competitive state. George W. Bush, a pro-immigration Republican, has won two presidential elections--as did another pro-immigration Republican, Ronald Reagan.

2. Ed Gillespie, in the WSJ:
...researchers at the Academy of Sciences for the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform have demonstrated that immigrants add about $10 billion annually in net economic output due to the increased supply of labor and resulting lower prices. Furthermore, a typical newcomer pays $80,000 more in taxes than he takes out in benefits over the course of a lifetime.

From low-wage workers who pick oranges to high-tech workers who lend their engineering expertise to American companies, immigrant labor provides critically important human resources. Eliminating them from the labor force will not result in more Americans filling those jobs. Our nation's unemployment rate is at 4.8%, and 243,000 new jobs were created last month. Without comprehensive reform, we are likely to see Florida orange groves being sold to developers as citrus companies plant new groves south of our border, and U.S. technology companies moving employment centers from Boston and Silicon Valley to Bangladesh and Shanghai.
3. Daniel Henninger, also WSJ:
Most Americans understand their heritage and do not want now to be "anti-immigrant." They don't want to be party to an 11-million-person round-up and deportation. What they want is a politics that takes seriously their anxieties, anxieties that involve not just immigrants but general unease about the direction of a turbulent, constantly changing U.S. culture, as in that 2004 presidential vote. So amid all that, along comes a major social movement--11 million "undocumented" workers. Assimilation? Heck, people who've lived here all their lives don't feel assimilated into their own culture anymore.

It's not a coincidence that the first push-back Immigration Act emerged in the Roaring Twenties, another period of abrupt social disruption and anxiety with heavy immigrant inflows from southern Europe. It may be too much to hope, but the purpose of political leadership in such times is to find a path toward our best lights rather than our darkest impulses. At the moment, Senator Frist of Tennessee isn't measuring up.
4. Fr. Jim Tucker:
One quick thought, especially for those who are objecting to current levels of immigration (legal or otherwise) on the grounds of costs to our social welfare system. This argument presumes that net costs to the system outweigh net gains, as well as presuming that the undocumented don't have taxes taken out of their wages. A more common argument is that the aliens come in and free load off of our government programs, and that is basically theft. Not only is that not the case for all of these immigrants, there are plenty of citizens who have been doing precisely that for generations. If I shouldn't have to pay for public programs for undocumented immigrants whom I don't know, neither do I see why I should have to pay for public programs for American citizens whom I don't know. I would submit that these particular arguments are not so much arguments against freer immigration as indications of the massive problems with the American welfare state.
5. And finally: I have always maintained that, in the U.S. context, anti-immigrationism is rooted in anti-Catholicism -- and now, with the elegance and wit that have made him famous, radio's most braying jackass, Michael Savage, comes along to make the point for me (hat-tip: Greg, whom I told so):
...the greedy Catholic Church was behind the demonstrations because the people of America walked away from the molesters’ dens and they need to bring in people from the Third World who are still gullible enough to sit there and listen to the molesters … the Roman Catholic Church was behind this, the Roman Catholic Church started this a year ago. The Roman Catholic Church flooded the streets because they cannot get parishioners anymore amongst educated white people who have caught onto the racket and instead they need to import dummies to sit in the church pews. That’s the story and it is not difficult for you to understand — I’m telling you the truth. It’s all about greed. It’s greed at the top of the Catholic Church.
Of course, when you're Michael Savage, nothing is difficult to understand, because you understand very little. Like Bob the Dinosaur, only without the good manners.