The Conservative Immigration Split

It’s behind a paywall, but Roll Call had a good piece on disagreements about immigration inside the conservative camp that I’ll excerpt:

The antipathy toward immigrants was further apparent in comments from ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who is running against Sen. John McCain for Arizona’s GOP Senate nomination. Hayworth appeared at a Thursday night screening of “Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration,” introducing the film and saying it proves that U.S. immigration policy needs to change drastically. “The problem in Washington is that so many people — including my opponent — view this as a political problem to be managed instead of seeing what really is going on,” said Hayworth, who was featured in the film. “This is an invasion that must be stopped.”


On a Thursday panel called “The Rise of Latino Conservatism,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said he was taken aback by assertions he has heard that Latino immigrants are lazy and weaken Western culture. Latinos actually share values that are staples of conservative campaigns, he added: They’re overwhelmingly Christian, pro-business, and oppose gay marriage and abortion rights. “But you can’t talk to someone from the immigrant community, threaten to deport their relative and then ask them to vote with you because you’re pro-life,” he said. “Some conservatives and some Republicans have used harsh and insulting rhetoric that has chased away Hispanic voters unnecessarily.”

I like that Norquist is just now recognizing that lots of conservatives are racists.

Beyond that, I’ll just say that I think of the system of border controls and passports and the routine violations of those rules as a political problem that needs to be managed. Nobody favors “illegal immigration” but a response focused on large-scale deportations of undocumented migrants is both inhumane and economically destructive. It would be far smarter to put into place a system that lets people who’ve come here to work do so as long as they follow the law, pay the taxes they owe, and start the process of integrating themselves and their families into American society. The economic benefits of immigration are quite considerable, but relatively few voters understand this. Joining places like CAP and Cato in pointing this out would be one very helpful way for Doug Holtz-Eakin’s new right-wing think tank to play a valuable role and distinguish itself from the existing offerings.


The fact that lots of people from all around the world want to come here and add their skills and efforts to our own is one of America’s great strengths in the world — it’s something we should be taking advantage of, not fearing.