There is not a "conservative" view of immigration and I would content that neither is there a liberal view of immigration. At the current time, the current Democrat administration is pushing comprehensive immigration reform, but the last time we had comprehensive immigration reform it happened under the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan. Just because some may think that the current comprehensive immigration bill being debated in Congress is flawed, does not make them anti-immigrant.
Tomorrow night Mark Krikorian, the Executive Director of the Immigration think-tank Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) will be in Nashville. I look forward to hearing him speak if I am able to attend. Due to my wife's declining health, I do not get to attend as many political and civic events as I used to and as I would like, but if I am able to attend, I plan to. If you can attend I encourage you to do so.
CIS takes the position that America would be better served by less immigration. That may be thought of a "conservative" position by some. However, organized labor, a major component of the Democrat coalition, also tends to take a similar position. CIS says of itself, "Our board, our staff, our researchers, and our contributor base are not predominantly 'liberal' or predominantly 'conservative.' Instead, we believe in common that debates about immigration policy that are well-informed and grounded in objective data will lead to better immigration policies."
Many people however will assume that the more restrictive immigration policy favored by CIS is a conservative position. If the position of CIS is a "conservative" position, then there is an equally conservative position that favors a more generous immigration policy and sees immigration as a benefit.
Alvaro Vargas Llosa is a Senior Fellow of The Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute. He has written a new book Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization and America. Last week I saw him discuss the book on CSPAN BookTV. The book looks at the immigrant experience, from the past to the present, how immigration connects America to the rest of the world, and explores who migrants are and why they move. He says the conduct of immigrants today is no different than that of immigrants in the past and that contrary to popular claims, the patterns of contemporary migration do not differ fundamentally from those in the past. He also argues that immigration is not a drain on our society but a benefit.
If you missed Mr. Llosa BookTV interview last week, and would like to view it, I am posting it below. Mr. Llosa was a guest of the Cato Institute, another conservative think tank that is favorable disposed to immigration. I tend to be more favorable disposed to immigration myself. I do, however, think we must control our borders and that immigration should be either for the benefit of this nation or for humanitarian reasons. No immigrant has a right to enter this country. I also think we must have a policy that is neither open boarders nor closed to all immigration. To develop the right policy requires judgement and wisdom. Good people will disagree on what that policy should be. There are a lot of shades of gray between the extremes.
I think that when some people talk about immigrants taking American jobs or being a drain on society, they are accepting what is essentially a liberal premise and that is, that the size of the American pie is fixed. They are taking an essentially liberal view that says if someone else improves their lot in life it is at the expense of someone else. It is the politics of envy. I believe that if someone else has more, it does not mean I have less. Our society and our economy are not fixed and static. American optimism and pro-growth policies are conservative values.
While I hold to the view just expressed, I think reasonable people can disagree about the specifics of immigration policy. Neither those who favor a more restrictive policy nor those who favor a more gemerpis policy should have their view considered off limits. The view of Mark Krikorian and CSI should not be demonized. There are at least two sides to the issue. In today's Tennessean there was a report that Upcoming Nashville Rotary speaker draws fire. It seems some are fearful of both sides being heard. As reported in the Tennessean article:
“Mark Krikorian’s views are out of step with American values — and with the 77 percent of Tennesseans that want our immigration system fixed this year,” said Eben Cathey, spokesman for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition."
While liberals like to pride themselves on being open-minded and tolerant, they are only open-minded and tolerant of those with whom they agree. Political correctness and labeling unpopular views as unacceptable by the Southern Poverty Law Center is an effort to let only one side of an issue be heard. I find the Southern Poverty Law Center more of a threat to freedom than I do many of those they label.
Please watch the video below and if you can go see Mr. Mark Krikorian tomorrow night, please do so. It won't hurt you to hear either view. For more on tomorrow nights event, follow this link.