Do Pro-Enforcement Advocates Also Wish to Restrict Legal Immigration?

With the Wisconsin v. Union soap opera all the rage these days, illegal immigration and related issues have been on the backburner. But Ruben Navarette Jr., in "The Rank Dishonesty of Immigration Restrictionists," posted on PJM, has nudged the debate a bit further forward.

Open-borders advocates -- and I’m not certain that Mr. Navarette is a part of that company -- commonly confine themselves to calling anyone opposing illegal immigration not only wrong, but racist. Now comes Mr. Navarette, who has broadened the field by adding a more expansive charge: those opposed to illegal immigration must necessarily also oppose legal immigration. Consequently, they hate foreigners, particularly those who are brown skinned.

But before examining Mr. Navarette’s assertions, consider the reality of national sovereignty. All sovereign nations share certain powers -- not rights. Individuals have rights; states have powers -- and responsibilities. Among the most important is the power and responsibility to regulate immigration for the benefit of the people and nation. There is no such thing as a right to immigrate where one chooses. Most nations are far more particular about who is allowed to immigrate than America, to say nothing about being far more punitive toward those who violate their immigration laws. In addition, sovereign nations may dictate the terms of immigration and may mandate certain actions and knowledge, such as  knowledge of American history and government, the ability to speak, read, and write English, and other matters that would tend to assimilate immigrants successfully into American society.

Mr. Navarette begins with the assumption that those who oppose illegal immigration also oppose legal immigration, but are unwilling to admit their perfidy. He writes:

When immigration restrictionists — a posse made up of folks who are put off by the browning of America and pining away for the days of Leave It to Beaver — aren’t trying to keep out foreigners, they spend an inordinate amount of time trying to keep up appearances.

A lot of these folks really want the rest of us to believe that they have  absolutely no beef whatsoever with anyone who plays by the rules and comes to the United States legally.

Mr. Navarrette produces examples:

Like the Rhode Island radio talk show host who interviewed me recently. She tried to convince me that the debate wasn’t about legal immigrants — only the illegal ones.

Or the reader of my syndicated column who accused me of leaving out a  crucial word when I write about the benefits of immigration. “The word is LEGAL,” he wrote. “Legal immigration is what our country is built on."

Or the reader who — responding to something that I’d written for PJM — accused me of misrepresenting what Americans are really concerned about. "It’s anti-illegal-immigration," he wrote. "And we SHOULD NOT TOLERATE the miscasting of this issue as anti-immigration. It’s a base deceit."

Mr. Navarrette is apparently unwilling to take these people at their word. “These poor people,” he intones with feigned sincerity and pity. They’re not being honest, but are trying to explain away the idea that a nation of immigrants is hostile to immigrants. Mr. Navarrette explains:

There is only one problem: what these people so desperately want us to believe isn’t true. Many Americans are worried about LEGAL immigrants. They do want to limit the number of people who come to the United States  legally. They are anti-foreigner.

It’s not about labels. People put up walls when they’re hit with words like  "racist" or "nativist." The terms aren’t important. Call it what you like. The bottom line is that there are many Americans out there who seem to believe  that this was a better, stronger, safer, and more productive country when the population was whiter.

Mr. Navarrette also criticizes Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies for wanting to "end illegal immigration but also limit legal immigration.” Various others, including former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce (R-of course), are included for their immigration crimes.

Navarrette takes pains to note that Sen. Pearce is "the author of Arizona’s dreadful and dysfunctional immigration law SB-1070,” which is the law at the center of the Obama administration's lawsuit against Arizona. Particularly galling -- and to Navarrette’s way of thinking, revealing -- are Pearce’s suggestions:

I do think there ought to be a moratorium, maybe, until we get our act together. …We’re allowing people to come through without complete  background checks, you know, we’re letting people overstay their visas. … Um, there ought to be a timeout all the way around until we get our arms around national security.

Navarrette allows that:

Pearce is partly right. The immigration debate does need a timeout — on  dishonesty. We need to pull the plug on the lies, including the absurd claim that immigration restrictionists aren’t going after legal immigrants.

Of course, they are. And that leads me to ask: what part of legal don’t these people understand?