Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Next Battle: Immigration

What we will — and will not — hear in the upcoming debate.

by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
April 5, 2010

After the healthcare fight, we can expect the Obama administration to use the same template to pass “comprehensive immigration reform.” That is a euphemism for permanently ceasing construction of the still-incomplete border fence; institutionalizing a large guest-worker program; treating illegal residents as de facto citizens in terms of receiving earned-income credits, healthcare, and general entitlements; and providing virtual amnesty for 11 million illegal aliens.
And what exactly is that model for passage of something that promises to be so unpopular?
We know the boilerplate well after a year of healthcare acrimony. First, immigration policy — like healthcare, and cap-and-trade to come — will be cast as a civil-rights issue. That is, free access to the United States and, for some, its entitlement industry for millions of impoverished Mexicans will be redefined as comparable to ending discrimination in the South in the 1960s.
Next, skeptics will be branded “racists” and “nativists,” as is being done now to the tea partiers. A few House members will wade through anti-illegal-immigration rallies, and within minutes the media will announce “racial slurs” and “a scary atmosphere” suggesting “violence” and “hatred.”
This polarization is critical for the bill’s passage, since it does not have 50 percent public support — and won’t unless a series of constituencies can be united to see the issue in polarities such as us vs. them, whites vs. people of color, rich vs. poor. Blacks will be told it is Birmingham all over again. The Mexican-American middle class, highly skeptical of open borders, will be told that opposition to amnesty is “anti-Hispanic.”
So the debate will be personalized — and, above all, blurred. Opponents, we will also be told, are not bothered by illegal immigration per se. Rather they are “anti-immigrant” — as the issue is transmuted into one of hating real people rather than opposing an illegal activity...


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