Jeff Jacoby On Immigration Policy

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 22, 2009

As is his wont, Jacoby speaks big truth:

YOU’RE A sensible, principled conservative. You want America to be a land of boundless opportunity and freedom, where people are treated as individuals and judged on their merits. You reject the divisive identity politics of the left – what matters most about any of us, you would insist, is not race or class or ethnic origins: it is personal character and achievement. There are few things about contemporary politics you deplore more than the demonizing or scapegoating of entire groups (“white males,’’ “the rich,’’ “the Christian right,’’ “gun owners’’), as though every member of the group is interchangeable and indistinguishable, wholly defined by a single disparaging label.

But let someone mention “illegal immigrants,’’ and your principles fly out the window.

The best way for the United States to continue to remain a great power for the foreseeable future is to continue to encourage “self-motivated risk-takers, strivers determined to improve themselves, hard-working men and women willing to take the meanest jobs if it will give them a shot at building their own American dream” to come to America and lend her their talents. Amazingly enough, too many conservatives are determined to close the doors to these very people–the kind of people who helped make America a great nation to begin with. This makes no sense, and it makes no sense to deny immigrants–illegal or otherwise (as Jacoby reminds us, even the illegal immigrants continue to pay taxes)–the benefits of the education needed to better themselves, and to better society in the process.

Jacoby points out that illegal immigrants are not the problem. Rather, the problem is the state of immigration policy, which is terrible. Surely, immigration policy needs an overhaul. But if we throw the baby out with the bathwater by closing the doors to immigrants, we will suffer at our own hands far more than we would ever suffer at the hands of illegal immigrants.

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