Not really. “Illegal immigration” is not about illegal immigration. I would have thought the issue was only about poverty, until realizing that $40-50 billion a year leave the U.S. in remittances to Latin America, in many cases from those who use American subsidies to free up cash to send home. It is not quite about moral justice, given that the U.S. is in near recession with millions of citizens out of work and whose earning power in the Southwest was eroded by cheaper workers here illegally. Nor is Mexico innocent, but by design seeks to export its own impoverished to win remittances, ease the burden of paying for social services, and build an expatriate community more sympathetic to Mexico the longer and farther it is away from it.
Instead, illegal immigration concerns most advocates not in the abstract sense of changing the law for all, but only in the concrete — solely in the sense of illegal immigration from Latin America in general, and Mexico in particular. In essence, the argument is that a common ethnic tie trumps federal law in a fashion that no others should dare emulate. Even the staunchest advocate of open borders would oppose 3,000 from Kenya or Chad landing in freighters on the American coast and demanding amnesty. Apparently, there is some sort of notion that past history or present ethnic solidarity privileges a distortion of the immigration law to such an extent as to render it ineffective. In other words, advocacy for blanket amnesty and open borders hinges on no one else taking up such an offer except those from Mexico and Latin America: there can be only so much controlled chaos before things get uncontrollably chaotic.
If one were to say that we need to resume mass immigration from Europe, one would be seen as a tribalist, racist even — on the grounds that one’s ethnic profile matched the ethnic profile of those who should be given preference in immigration. Yet imagine if an offer of fast-track citizenship were to be extended to any in a now crumbling EU — or for that matter, anyone at all — with a bachelor’s degree, mastery of English, and $20,000 in capital? I think a million skilled workers would arrive within 12 months, along with billions in capital. So let us be frank. Those accused of racism for wishing immigration law enforced can make the argument that they are racially blind and wish it applied without regard to specific individuals; those accusing others of racism wish to render immigration law null and void, only because of the shared race or ethnic background of those who break it.
The frightening thing about illegal immigration is that it is racially/ethnically driven; its advocates have little concern about extending their principles to others, and, in that sense, it is a sort of selfishness, designed to enhance one’s own political constituency within the United States while eroding the law, as if to say, “U.S. law must not apply to my ethnic group but should be enforced in all other cases.”