As the Republican primary begins to heat up, candidates will stake out their positions on a variety of issues important to conservatives. One issue that has occupied a place of growing concern for me is what some like to call “The National Question” – immigration policy. Immigration came up in the context of a couple of interesting/good recent pieces by wildly different political commentators, discussing the putative Republican field. The first piece was by conservative apostate David Frum, who takes Jeb Bush to task over some of Bush’s recent comments about immigration. To lay my own cards on the table, I have been proudly and staunchly anti-immigrant (at least in the present context) for some time – I think Frum is quite right to question Bush’s devotion to the concept of “biculturalism” (what happened to good old fashioned assimilation -- -- some of us prefer immigrants that assimilate to a common culture. Bobby Jindal has been good on this subject). Indeed, Frum should have used his piece to ask some even tougher questions of Jeb Bush: Why do we need immigrant labor -- especially when the low-skill labor coming from Central America will drive down the price of our low skill labor? Do you want to make life tougher for the working poor in their country? What about the cost/benefit analysis associated with new immigrants -- let's talk about those communities struggling to deal with low-skill Hispanics who seem to lose their family values once they cross the border (50% + out of wedlock birth rates and climbing!) I could go on, but you get the idea.
However, the fact that Frum is at least challenging Bush, in the liberal Atlantic of all places, on the basic narrative that “immigration is what made America great” is encouraging – a sign perhaps that the policy questions around immigration are becoming “de-Sacralized.
The other column that caught my attention was by Ann Coulter who laments Mitt Romney’s withdrawal from the Republican race because he was the only serious anti-immigration candidate according to Ann:
The only Republican who has ever opposed the media and big campaign donors on immigration was Mitt Romney. You know, the guy we just kicked to the curb. On immigration, the elites speak with one voice: The donors want cheap labor, and the media hate Republicans who push ideas that are wildly popular with voters.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney repeatedly vetoed bills giving illegal aliens in-state tuition. He also vetoed a bill to extend health coverage to illegal aliens. And he made clear he would veto any bill allowing driver's licenses for illegal aliens, so those never made it to his desk.
While Jeb was one of the first governors to demand driver's licenses for illegals, Romney was one of the first governors to strike a special agreement with federal immigration officials allowing Massachusetts state troopers to arrest illegal aliens.
But with the cheap-labor plutocrats up in arms during the 2012 presidential campaign over Romney's suggestion that their serfs "self-deport," all the Republican lickspittles rushed to denounce his untoward remark. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker -- all of them lined up to take Sheldon Adelson's loyalty oath, swearing that, as far as they were concerned, illegal aliens should be treated as honored guests.
You better pray for a "flip-flopper" on immigration, conservatives.
Now I don't advocate becoming a one-issue voter and I, of course, think Mitt Romney would have made a terrible candidate for lots of other reasons -- but it is interesting that on this issue at least he has shown some spine.
While it remains to be seen just how serious someone like Scott Walker or Ted Cruz (or even Marco Rubio, who may have seen the light after his ill-fated attempt at immigration ‘reform’) will be when it comes to immigration, I think it is worth paying heed to Ann’s warning. For those of us who think immigration is an important and serious issue that will have far-reaching and negative consequences for this country if we don’t get the problem under control, we need to take people like Jeb Bush at their word and be worried about how they will treat the issue when in office given their respective worldviews about immigrants and their potential positive (or negative) contributions to this country.