National Review has come out against the latest bipartisan immigration reform efforts with an editorial entitled "A Pointless Amnesty." I agree. For those suffering from an acute lack of human feeling and common decency, I'm sure welcoming the immigrants in our midst does seem pointless. Let us hope and pray that National Review will be an outlier. We have the entire Democratic establishment pushing for reform, as well as important blocs within the Republican Party, including evangelicals and big business. This time we may really get it done.
The National Review editorial is a depressing read. Basically, they want more security ad infinitum, conveniently failing to mention that the Obama administration has done more for border security than any administration in history and has prosecuted a draconian and inhumane deportation policy that has caused untold suffering for many thousands of immigrants. Obama has deported peaceful immigrants on an unprecedented scale and beefed up border security far above Bush era levels. Yet it's not enough. It will never be enough for the writers at National Review and their ilk.
They oppose amnesty on the pretense that we haven't made progress on border security. The real reason for their opposition is their belief that Obama and the Democrats are about to bank a lot of new voters. As a political matter, their analysis is probably not wrong. The Republican Party cannot expect to fix its problems with Hispanics simply by passing immigration reform while doubling down on everything else. So reform will probably benefit Democrats more. But this is not primarily a political matter; it is a human one. To fail to see that, and act accordingly, is indecent.
Not only is the editorial indifferent to substantive argument, it grates with an incessant use of the term "illegals." How can they not see that this is a slur? If not a slur, what is it? What, precisely, might it mean? In its literal usage it is a nonsense word; it has clearly passed into common usage as a slur. Rather than being immigrants the Bible calls us to welcome, these people are "illegals," an unavoidably negative term. I went above the speed limit today so I guess I'm an illegal too. One thing is clear: National Review began as a racist rag (a fact which is forgiven because, hey, Buckley was brilliant!) and is carrying on in that tradition.
I hope conservative evangelicals will be pushing hard on this. I've heard some good things from evangelical leaders but I worry that too many of the rank and file are tuned in to anti-Christian talkers like Beck, Limbaugh, and Hannity and value their word more than God's. If the Republican right wing is against this, will evangelicals join them?
We need to remember that it doesn't matter what party this might or might not benefit. This is about doing the right thing for millions of innocent immigrants. Yes, innocent. Crossing an international border to find a better life for your family is not a mark against you, regardless of what the law says. Those who prance and prattle on about the rule of law and how we need to deport these lawbreakers posses a remarkable moral sensibility. It goes like this: I've got mine, and it sucks to be you. Not only that, many of us are proud of what we have, as if we were the writers of our story. "I'm proud to be an American!" As if we willed ourselves to be born here.