March 25, 2006

I’VE GENERALLY FAVORED OPEN IMMIGRATION, but I find myself feeling less and less that way in the face of mass rallies by illegal immigrants like this one.

Illegal immigrants as individuals just trying to make a better life are sympathetic. Illegal immigrants as a mass movement making demands on the polity are considerably less so.

I’m not the only one to get this impression, as Mickey Kaus’s report on the rallies in Los Angeles indicates. I think that these marches just made passage of strict immigration laws much more likely.

UPDATE: Reader Harmon Dow emails:

I saw the rally in Chicago about a week ago. Got caught up in it in the Loop at lunch.

What struck me was that it was a very pro-America rally. Here & there, a Mexican flag, quite a few anti-Sensenbrenner signs, but mainly American flags & signs, carried by a lot of young & middle-aged men & women. There were a number of kids, & I had the feeling that many of the marchers were family groups.

Right now, these people are positive about our country, and are interested in being Americans. I hope we have the sense to go with that, rather than subvert it, because at some point, I fear that they might decide that if they can’t be Americans, they’ll just have to be Mexicans. But not in Mexico.

Kaus’s take on the L.A. march is a bit different (then again, so is L.A.), but this is a good point.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A more positive take on the Los Angeles march here, from A.M. Mora y Leon. On the other hand, reader Jake Jacobsen emails:

With all due respect to Mr. Dow I attended the rally and covered it for my blog. I found the proportions of Mexican to American flags ran about ten to one and while yes, it was a primarily family affair I had zero sense that “these people are positive about our country, and are interested in being Americans.”

Didn’t see it at all.

His blog posts are here and here. And Virginia Postrel observes: “Workers, especially those who want to settle and become citizens (or have their children become citizens), are not threats. They’re contributors to American society.”

MORE STILL: Bill Quick thinks that Virginia is overly optimistic.