I live in fear that we'll ultimately win on illegal immigration, and then most people will lose interest, thinking "problem solved." (Our society has a short attention span.)
However, mass legal immigration provides the seedbed for mass illegal immigration. (See, for example, Mark Krikorian's "Sheboygan" argument here.) So if we permit legal immigration at its current astronomical levels and return to our sloppy ways, illegal immigration may metastasize again.
Plus, mass legal immigration creates most of the same problems as mass illegal immigration.
Thus, when I encounter someone who is with us on illegal immigration, I usually try to push them further, to get them to also recognize the larger subject.
For example, a columnist for a suburban newspaper in a major metro area recently published a good op-ed about illegal immigration, but he made the usual, glib distinction between the illegal and legal varieties. (For several reasons, I'll leave him anonymous and won't link his column.) So I wrote him a private email outlining my view of things:
Immigration is not the issue in America, ....... The issue is illegal immigration and how to deal with it in an enlightened and compassionate way.
But legal immigration carries with it almost all the ills of illegal immigration, the significant exception, of course, being the large-scale breakdown of the rule of law that goes with the latter. (Note that the nominally-legal immigration pathways of refugee and asylum are used fraudulently about 95% of the time.)
Having lived in Redondo Beach, California 1996 - 2005, I provide you with this distillation of my observations on what mass immigration, legal and illegal both, is doing to our country:
1. The flood of immigrants drives wages and living conditions in our central cities toward those of the Third World.
2. The influx imposes both sprawl and gridlock on our metropolitan areas.
3. Immigrant families needing services overwhelm our schools, taxpayer-funded healthcare facilities, and other public agencies.
4. Those requiring services don’t assimilate and, instead, expect to be served in their native languages.
5. American civic culture frays as each ethnic group establishes its own grievance lobby and pushes for preferences.
7. Shortages of water and other resources loom, especially in immigration-blitzed California.
You can flesh out your understanding of these points quickly by reading the 20 micro-essays here ...
... about a 15-minute claim on your time. I suggest starting with essay number 8, "Mass immigration and basic freedoms":
Then, to productively orient your future thinking about immigration, ponder these two questions:
What is the purpose of the United States?
What is the purpose of our immigration laws?
My answer to both: To benefit the citizens of the United States.
Is your answer different?
If, for example, you think that immigration here is a civil right for the rest of the world, and we have a duty to let them in, please recognize that there are 5 billion people in the world poorer than the average Mexican. So where would you draw your line?
Columnist XXXX wrote me a brief response: "Many thanks for this. You make compelling points."
That was especially rewarding, as I often get no response. But whether rewarding or not, I think it's always worth trying with journalists — if we can get them to broaden their thinking, there's real leverage for us in advancing the public conversation about mass immigration.
(I think it's worth making the same points in "retail" situations, too, such as when we hear a friend say "I have a problem with illegal immigration, but I like legal immigration.")
We must keep pushing, pushing, pushing ...