Roger L. Simon

Sowell on Ice: Gingrich and Immigration

Only a complete fool would argue with Thomas Sowell, so I must be a certified fourth member of the Three Stooges, because I am going to take issue with his Human Events piece, “Gingrich and Immigration.”

In the article, Sowell disputes Newt Gingrich’s proposal that — after our borders are duly sealed, not the sieve they are now — long term illegal aliens, who have been law abiding citizens, be granted the ability to stay in our country, though not to become citizens.

Gingrich’s reasoning is that it would be inhumane to split up families with mass deportations, particularly of older people. Sowell responds:


Let’s go back to square one. The purpose of American immigration laws and policies is not to be either humane or inhumane to illegal immigrants. The purpose of immigration laws and policies is to serve the national interest of this country.

There is no inherent right to come live in the United States, in disregard of whether the American people want you here.

Sowell lost me right there. What “American people” is he talking about? As a forty-year resident of Southern California, I can attest… indeed would even swear on the proverbial dead grandmother… that the vast majority of the middle and upper middle classes of my state — Democrat, Republican, or independent — have been knowingly employing illegal aliens for decades. They may have felt guilty or ambivalent about it, but they voluntarily used illegal aliens to build their houses, pick their fruit, mow their lawns, wash their laundry, babysit their kids, etc., etc.

Until relatively recently, when the economy went sour, everyone I knew employed illegal aliens one time or another, except for those who planned on running for office. (And many of them, as it has turned out, did too.)

So Sowell is asking us to believe in some mythological “American people.” In the real world it was something else again. There was an entente cordiale between the illegal aliens and those that employed them. It was all a big wink.

Thought it seems far away now, in those halcyon days, the illegals knew we wanted them for cheap labor and they came here, not just California, but all over the Southwestern U.S., because we were ready and willing to employ them. If we hadn’t wanted them, fewer of them would have come. Some arrests were made, but it wasn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. People shrugged it off.

Was this a good thing? Of course not, but it’s a fact. And pretending otherwise doesn’t make it not so.

Reagan knew this. That’s why he supported amnesty back in the eighties. It may have been a mistake. But Gingrich isn’t even doing that. He’s advocating something considerably less for a smaller subset of people. Yet his supposed friends on the right are still attacking him. I’d like to hear their concrete proposal for what to do.

Meanwhile, here’s a key fact Sowell and company seem to ignore in the pursuit of ideological purity:

They are advocating the deportation of eleven million people!

You think the Iraq War was expensive? Who pays for all those buses? Or do we put them in cattle cars? Can you imagine what the photos of that would look like? The whole thing is so absurd you start to bang your head on the table.

And this is without even going near another obvious truth — that a Republican proposal to deport eleven million illegal aliens would throw the entire Latino vote to Obama, virtually reassuring his reelection.

But, hey, you get to be ideologically pure.

Now I want to make one last thing clear: I absolutely support (as does Gingrich evidently) completely secure borders. I don’t want Hezbollah in the Sonoran Desert, or anywhere near it. Ditto for the drug cartels. The whole place should be on lockdown.

But after that, Newt’s right. His proposal to set up a board to determine who stays and who goes seems logical. I can’t think of another way. Maybe someone else can.