That GOP Debate In New Hampshire: A Pleasant Surprise On Immigration
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Rob Sanchez has a powerful post this morning about Gov. Tim Pawlenty's Chamber of Commerce-compliant immigration policy, but I am astonished to say I don't really agree with Rob's dismissal of the immigration component in last night's GOP presidential debate as "superficial".

The transcript is here (I'm excerpting the relevant portion here); a YouTube excerpt is here.

Of course, it's scandalous and stupid that none of the candidates called for 1) an anti-unemployment immigration moratorium; 2) a comprehensive anti-illegal immigration policy comprising a) a sealed border to stop the illegal flow b) elimination of the illegal stock by increased deportation, attrition through enforcement, overthrow of Plyler v. Doe, abolition of birthright citizenship etc.

But short of that, and setting aside all the claptrap about "compassion" and immigrant forebears that American pols seem to feel necessary, the candidates were surprisingly firm—certainly firmer than the moderator, CNN's John King, seemed to want or expect.

This can only be a tribute to the terror inspired in the candidates by New Hampshire's patriotic peasantry—and, we like to think, to the pitchforks that and others in the movement have been stockpiling for them all these years.


  • Herman Cain endorsed abolition of Birthright Citizenship—he said "I don't believe so" when asked if the "Anchor Baby" loophole should exist.
  • Cain also endorsed Arizona-style state action to eliminate the illegal stock, as did Pawlenty (!) and Santorum. (I think: he said: "the federal government should not require states to provide government services".)
  • Santorum also said "We should not be offering to people—particularly those who broke the law to come here or overstayed their visa—we should not be offering government benefits". I presume this was a mis-statement, but on its face it seems to show an awareness that government transfer payments are a problem for legal immigration policy too—in Milton Friedman's famous formulation:
  • Both Paul and Gingrich contrasted deficient border security with the effort made in Iraq and Iran. As Paul put it: "We should think about protecting our borders, rather than the borders between Iraq and Afghanistan". That may not seem much—but both were interrupted with applause.  Politicians notice applause. Out on the campaign trail, it can end up making policy.
  • Gingrich and Pawlenty endorsed using the National Guard on the Mexican border; in fact, Pawlenty congratulated himself on sending the Minnesota National Guard.
  • Ron Paul heroically responded to King's tendentious question on Emergency Rooms ("A 5-year-old child of an illegal immigrant walks into an emergency room. Does the child get care?") by essentially saying no ("Well, first off, we shouldn't have the mandates. We bankrupted the hospitals and the schools in Texas and other states. We shouldn't give them easy citizenship"). Without prompting, Paul even went on to imply that, despite recent ominous signs, he's cool on amnesty ("We shouldn't give them easy citizenship")
  • Gingrich similarly refused to be trapped on amnesty: "No serious citizen who's concerned about solving this problem should get trapped into a yes/no answer in which you're either for totally selling out protecting America or you're for totally kicking out 20 million people in a heartless way. There are—there are humane, practical steps to solve this problem, if we can get the politicians and the news media to just deal with it honestly." This implies awareness of the policy option always omitted in immigration enthusiast pollaganda: attrition through enforcement.
  •  Pawlenty even showed awareness that anchor-baby Birthright Citizenship is a judicial interpretation, not a constitutional provision: "That result is because a U.S. Supreme Court determined that that right exists, notwithstanding language in the Constitution." In contrast, four years ago John McCain tried (unsuccessfully) to fool voters into thinking Birthright Citizenship was somehow blessed by the Founding Fathers.

(Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann were not called upon in this exchange, and did not feel impelled to refer to immigration at all. But Romney at least made enough pro-patriot noises to get Tom Tancredo's endorsement when Tancredo  bowed out of the last presidential race. And Beltway immigration patriots have real hopes for Bachmann, although they've been disappointed before).

Needless to say, all this and a marked ballot paper could get us amnesty, or at least a continuation of America's post-1965 immigration disaster. But hypocrisy is famously the homage that vice pays to virtue. And this pandering is the obeisance that GOP professionals now feel obliged to pay to patriotism.

Put this in perspective. Note that, in dramatic contrast to the nightmare reign of the disastrous Dubya, nobody even mentioned amnesty. 

It's not perfect, but it's good.

Click here for relevant portion of debate—key points highlighted.

Peter Brimelow (email him) is editor of VDARE.COM and author of the much-denounced Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster, (Random House - 1995) and The Worm in the Apple (HarperCollins - 2003)

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