Michael Gerson, President Bush’s former speechwriter nails it today in the WaPo. FIrst on the future of the GOP:

Given current demographic realities, Republicans cannot rely on their white base alone. If a Republican presidential candidate doesn’t get about 40 percent of the Latino vote nationwide, he or she doesn’t stand much of a chance on an electoral map where Florida and the Southwest figure prominently. A nativist party will cease to be a national party.

Breaking 40 percent is possible for Republicans. President Bush did it in 2004. Republican momentum among Hispanic voters has been strong in the past decade — until Rep. Tom Tancredo and his allies began their conflict with the fastest-growing segment of the electorate.

Conceding Latinos to the Democrats in perpetuity is a stunning failure of political confidence. If the Republican Party cannot find ways to appeal to natural entrepreneurs, with strong family values, who are focused on education and social mobility, then the GOP is already dead.

In some ways, the most important part, for me was this:

For Rodriguez and others, religion adds an element beyond politics and culture to the immigration debate. The Christian faith teaches that our common humanity is more important than our nationality. That all of us, ultimately, are strangers in this world and brothers to the bone; and all in need of amnesty. This belief does not dictate certain policies in a piece of legislation, but it does forbid rage and national chauvinism. And this is worth a reminder as well.

I agree with every word of this. I would point out that faith in America is the same. This is not a country of people born here. This is a country of people who came here and chose to be here. That’s what makes us special. The nativists and restrictionists are not keeping America pure. They are debasing it.



fredo · May 25, 2007 at 11:02 AM

Gerson’s analysis lacks logic. It’s a typical example of emotion trumping common sense.

“The Chrisian faith teaches that our common humanity is more important than our nationality.”

While the Christian faith teaches us to love our fellow man, at no point does it advocate amnesty or strip the state of its legitimate jurisdiction. Rather, St. Peter explicitly reminds us to be obedient to proper authorities and follow the law.

Virtually every state claims, and has always claimed, the right to restrict the flow of people into and out of its borders. To not do so invites anarachy, and would be a dereliction of the government’s duty, and hardly an injustice.

Gerson’s argument also makes two more assumptions which are dubious at best:

1) The GOP stands to gain hispanic votes by supporting amnesty. In fact, the polling I’ve seen shows that hispanic voters are not in favor of amnesty, albeit by a smaller margin than the population in general. Equating those who believe in law enforcement with “nativists” is a cheap ploy.

2) Anti-amnesty politicans only stand to lose states that Bush carried, such as Florida and the southwest. In fact, anti-amnesty politicans stand to gain in other swing regions, such as the midwest (MN,IA, WI, MI, OH, PA-ex-Philly). There are more electoral votes in these tightly contested states than those mentioned by Gerson.

eye · May 25, 2007 at 11:38 AM

Christianity repeated advocates for forgiveness for all sorts of misdeeds, whether moral or governmental.

Indeed, “forgive us of our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

I am not talking about not “restricting”. I am talking about making it orderly, fair, and open, which is consistent with the US’s economic interests, our national values, and the religious values of many of us.

Furthermore, one of the greatest economic accomplishments of the GOP was an amnesty: The Homestead Act, which gave squatters the land they were on, even if it was owned by someone else.

Chas · May 25, 2007 at 11:43 AM

Nativist Party.
“A New York Times/CBS News poll released yesterday found that 69% of American adults believe illegal immigrants should “be prosecuted and deported for being in the U.S. illegally.” Just 24% disagree and say they should not. The survey of 1,125 adults was conducted May 18-23, 2007.”


fredo · May 25, 2007 at 12:16 PM


Indeed “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” is a sound practice for Christians to extend to their neighboors. But it makes poor policy.

Christ didn’t go to Pilate to teach him good governance, he went to the people to teach them how to be God’s children.

I’m not saying there’s no such thing as “Christian governing practices”, but I am saying that merely waiving laws whenever there’s a lawbreaker is not, de facto, more merciful than enforcing the law. A society without order becomes a very difficult place for people to become safe, secure, morally formed, and charitable.

Don’t think the fiber of society (including moral fabric/safety/security) can be affected by unregulated immigration? Ask Parisians if they agree. Or Romans ca. 6th century. Or present day Mexicans, for that matter, who enforce their Southern border in a manner that would bring about cries of “fascism” if we were as strict here.

neil · May 25, 2007 at 2:10 PM

Wow, so the United States is like the Roman Empire in decline? Who knew?

fredo · May 25, 2007 at 2:16 PM

That’s what happens with a historical parallel, neil. Situations aren’t exactly the same, but there may be parallel points that transcend the differences.

News flash: the U.S. isn’t the same as France or Mexico either, but all 3 nations have found out that unimpeded immigration can create problems. {/return snark}

neil · May 25, 2007 at 2:25 PM

Your parallel was specious. The differences between the U.S. and the late Roman Empire, or Mexico, or France, are substantial and directly relevant to the immigration issue.

fredo · May 25, 2007 at 4:25 PM

Actually, France (and most of the Western world) is facing a demographic and economic situation that is remarkably similar to our own. An aging population creating a perceived need to increase laborers in their most productive years, questions about paying for income and health care benefits as the ratio of workers to retirees shrinks, etc. Also the way cultural divide closely correlates with generation gaps and the high differences in birth rates between native born and immigrant families. Differences in language and religion between the two groups. Immigrant groups marching en masse to demand new political and economic rights, and citizens debating how best to maintain an openness to immigrants without ceding their security or cultural traditions. I’d say there’s plenty of similarities there. Oh, but we don’t speak French. Definitely specious.

eye · May 25, 2007 at 4:57 PM

Ummmm. Wrong. Deeply and dangerously wrong. In fact, Europeans regularly talk about the need to learn from the US example with regard to assimilation.

Furthermore, they also have economies with substantially more welfare and unemployment and a substantially less fluid labor market. We have nearly full employment, with a couple of localized exceptions in the rust belt. In general, we have extremely low employment in both historical and comparative terms.

In addition, all subgroups in the US are more fertile than their European counterparts. For example, our native-born, rich, white woman have 50% more children than their southern or eastern European counterparts. And about 25% more than their western and northern European counterparts.

Now, there are legitimate questions about whether Hispanic immigrants are assimilating enough, whether they are getting the kinds of education that they need to advance socio-economically, etc. I think that the answers are mixed, but hopeful.

But to say that our problem is at all comparable to the European case is simply ignorant. And the desperation of any European political leader to learn from us on this front is the first signal of this.

neil · May 25, 2007 at 5:02 PM

It sounds as if you agree with the French, that it’s a major problem when immigrants don’t speak the language, have different religions and cultural traditions. Traditionally, America has never treated this as a problem, and indeed it hasn’t been one. Only in the recent few generations have we decided that it’s important that immigrants assimilate to the satisfaction of the majority as a condition to rights both political and economic. As you have noticed, this approach is leading to problems that France is familiar with, of immigrants who feel like they don’t belong and act that way, of large unassimilated enclaves. I don’t believe that a more French approach is the answer to this growing problem, but rather, a more American one. The days of Ellis Island brought prosperity and greatness to America. The days of the Minutemen will bring only more Frenchness.

delta7757 · May 25, 2007 at 6:20 PM

Fredo…your spot on. Plenty of similarities in the quote below. More people should consider this message.

“Rome fell September 4, 476 A.D. It was overrun with illegal immigrants: Visigoths, Franks, Anglos, Saxons, Ostrogoths, Burgundians, Lombards, Jutes and Vandals, who at first assimilated and worked as servants, but then came so fast they did not learn the Latin Language or the Roman form of government. Highly trained Roman Legions, moving rapidly on their advanced road systems, were strained fighting conflicts worldwide. Rome had a trade deficit, having outsourced most of its grain production to North Africa, and when Vandals captured that area, Rome did not have the resources to retaliate.
Attila the Hun was committing terrorist attacks. The city of Rome was on welfare with its citizens being given free bread. One Roman commented: ‘Those who live at the expense of the public funds are more numerous than those who provide them.’ Tax collectors were ‘more terrible than the enemy.’ Gladiators provided violent entertainment in the Coliseum. There was injustice in courts, exposure of unwanted infants, infidelity, immorality and perverted bathhouses. 5th-Century historian Salvian wrote: “O Roman people be ashamed… Let nobody think otherwise, the vices of our bad lives have alone conquered us’.”
– William Federe r

fredo · May 27, 2007 at 1:36 AM

Well, my long post from yesterday hasn’t been posted, for whatever reason. But to sum up my response to Soren:

You are addressing a different set of facts than I was. To say we have higher fertility rates and better economic growth rates than France is to make two points that I agree with you on, and more importantly, are verifiable facts.

That said, we still are only at replacement level population growth, ex-immigration, and the cost of our government entitlements will still be back-breaking based on current demographic trends. So that France is in a worse perdicament is not much of a help.

As to your point about assimilation, I think we can both agree that assimilation becomes much more likely when we are in control of the process than when we are not. This bill, by creating a carve-out for “Z-visa” holders, is amnesty, and the message of amnesty will trump the marginal impact of the new “enforcement measures” being enacted. Reward law breaking, and you get more of it.

fredo · May 27, 2007 at 1:53 AM


“Traditionally, America has never treated this [the establishment of an unassimilated sub-culture speaking a foreign language] as a problem”

This is so mind-bogglingly incorrect that I don’t even know where to begin. While it is true there have always been many tongues in the USA, it has always been understood that was merely a stepping stone to integration. Here are a few quotes from some past Americans who must not have gotten your post on the fact that we have “never treated this as a problem”:

“The mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation.” — President William McKinley

“The ultimate way to bring this nation to ruin, or preventing all possibility of it continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities. We have but one flag; we must also learn one language, and that language is English.” — President Theodore Roosevelt

“Providence has been pleased to give us this one connected country, to one united people, speaking the same language.” — John Jay, The Federalist Papers

eye · May 28, 2007 at 7:14 AM

I have not heard a single argument for how this rewards law breaking. These guys pay a fine and go on probation, assuming that they can document that they’ve been in the country and can pass a background check. Now, one can argue that the document check is insufficient or that the background check is too weak. Those are serious arguments.

Imagine someone going to court and getting a $1k fine, a processing fine, and probation. That is a normal outcome. That is punishment. Therefore, that is not amnesty.

The new law is basically created an expedited process (with certain documentary requirements) for “convicting” and “penalizing”. The law is also changing what the law and process is for here-on-out.

Now, you can argue that this is not enough of a penalty. But you have not.

What would you prefer?

fredo · May 29, 2007 at 5:57 PM


Are you serious? Creating a new pathway to permanent residency that applies specifically to those residing in the country illegally? And I need to explain how it rewards lawbreaking?

Apply your analogy at the policy level: imagine that the US government were to offer permanent residency with a pathway to citizenship to anyone in the world that wants to pony up a $1,000 entrance fee, endure a waiting period (during which time they are entitled to work in the US), submit to a background check, etc., and that these folks don’t need to wait in line based on current quotas and immigration laws. Think there would be many takers? Of course there would! The number of immigrants would skyrocket!

That is exactly why calling this a “punishment” is an obfuscation. It is, in reality, a processing fee that will encourage millions more to come here illegally to take advantage of the next amnesty/processing fee, just like ’86’s amnesty did.

1986: 3 Million
2007: 12-20 Million
2030: ??? Million

I will believe this bills promises of “enhanced enforcement” only when I see them. After a number of years elapse and there is a verifiable decline in illegal immigrants crossing the border. Until then, I see it for what it likely will be: a misleading hope meant to provide Congressmen from conservative districts enough cover to enact this amnesty into law.

What I would prefer is that the fence or virtual fence be built in its entirety, and that the Cornyn/Kyl amendment from ’06 be resurrected and passed, requiring that: (1) No new immigration law be allowed until border security has been attained and verified and (2) anyone who has cut in line must repatriate and get to the back of the line when applying for permanent status.

I would add (3): no guest worker program, which merely invites people into this country who don’t want to put down roots, become Americanized, and have a long-term stake in building our local communtities. I would prefer to increase the number of legal immigrants who want to come here and become citizens (contrary to Neil’s racism charges), but not until the borders are secured and we can control the inflow.

karasoth · May 30, 2007 at 9:09 AM

Also the background check must be completed within one working day

so not so much of a background check.

And since all immigration proceedings must stop and restart the temporary Z visa nonsense I am sure the fines will be ignored by intent of the bill.

and lets not forget it gives next to no inducement for the average illegal to legalize himself

and you support this bill yet a temporary z visa holder can do anyone with legal resident alien status can do.. thus they don’t go to the back of the line. they get in the door without going in the line

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