Wlady: I agree. We can't just write them off, and they won't go away. That's not my desire or my idea. We have to assimilate most of them and toss back those who are guilty of crimes other than crossing the border. But - and this is one heckuva big but - I still say we have to close the border to more before we can do anything else.
Jed: I don't believe I said the choice comes down to either shipping all illegals home or doing nothing. My basic point, again, is that our expanding economy will continue to create demand (and opportunity) for cheap labor. Who will fill those jobs if our borders are "closed" -- a condition certain to stymie economic growth as well. Immigration can be controlled, but it can't be shut off. And I think we'll have to do better than simply dismiss countries from which illegals come as "ratholes." The point is that most are in our neighborhood, our sphere of influence, and as such we share a certain history with them -- which is one huge reason we have this illegal problem in the first place. They're not going to go away just because we try to write them off.
Wlady: Tancredo isn't a leader. He is, as you say, a single-issue obsessive. We need the president to take a harder stand. The pool of illegals will increase. But don't we want to limit it? We are a nation of over 300 million. One estimate says that the Hagel bill will allow immigration by as many as 100 million. Neither our economy nor our security can withstand that. I'm not for deporting them all, as I've said and written many times. But the choice you pose isn't real. The choice isn't between shipping them all home and doing nothing. I insist that there is another choice, which begins with taking whatever action is needed to close the borders. Unless we do, we may as well just let everyone and anyone in. There's no way to solve any problem without going to the source. We can't solve the internal problems of every rathole nation that people want to flee. But we can make it much harder - almost impossible - for them to come here. And we must.
Some liberal Democrats are tired of hearing that their party has no ideas, no agenda. So they're stepping out with their own.
• quality public education
• universal healthcare coverage
• fair taxes and responsible social policy
• corporate accountability
• good jobs, living wages and secure pensions
• civil and human rights
• a clean and sustainable environment
• clean elections laws
The 21st Century Democrats' agenda is not innovative -- it's a return to all the issues liberals have long known and loved.
But what is markedly absent from their website's sections on "vision" or "issues" is some sort of overarching philosophy. The whole project belies its stated intent: they say they're presenting "bold ideas and a vision to lead America forward in quantum leaps" (press release), but only offer the typical amalgam of liberal issues.
But, Jed, we do have a leader ready to take up the charge -- Rep. Tom Tancredo. But as so often happens, a single-issue obsessive is not likely to gather broad support. Bush did what a consensus leader had to -- he tried to square the circle. The fit may not be there, but at least he's working with the pieces he has no choice but to deal with. Veep Cheney was just on Rush Limbaugh and mentioned that in recent years we've turned back some 6 million illegals at the border. Now for all we know these might include illegals who regrouped and got through on the second or third or tenth try. But the fact remains that some border enforcement is being attempted, and is likely to intensify still. This won't change the fact that our labor market continues to create ever new demands for cheap workers. One way or another the illegal pool is likely to expand, so long as our economy continues to expand. Would we settle for an economy in free fall if it meant ridding ourselves of illegals?
Wlady: I agree. The ten or twelve million already here are an internal problem. But two things: first, I'm worried more about the next ten or twenty million that will soon be here if we don't close things down; and second, no matter what we do, the libs will want to repopulate the welfare state with illegals and re-enfranchised felons. We need to deal with the external problem first, and find a leader to head up the charge. Unfortunately, it's pretty apparent W doesn't want to.
Jed: It's too late to think of the 10 plus million illegals in our midst as an external problem. That's why it imperative to open closed liberal minds on assimilation and welfare matters. As for security issues, let me quote from the excellent John Tierney in today's N.Y. Times. "Mohamed Atta did not have to hire a coyote or swim across the Rio Grande. He and the other hijackers entered the country legally...." I cannot recommend his column strongly enough (available, alas, only to Times Select subscribers).
Wlady: The problem is both internal and external. I don't care about opening closed liberal minds. We have to focus on the security of our country, and the illegals' unassimilated threat to it. Are we going to let ten million become citizens? Twenty? One hundred? Before we can do anything else, we need to understand that our ability to assimilate them, and the costs they impose before they assimilate, is very limited.
We have to control the flow of people into the country before we can do anything else. Unless we do, our arrogance at proposing finely-tuned programs to let them work, be schooled and cared for medically, to get them to pay taxes and learn English is the arrogance of France, or ancient Rome. Start with the external problem. Until that's solved, nothing else can be.