Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two key points on the immigration debate

Mark Krikorian, writing today on NRO, makes two crucial points in responding to Richard Nadler's arguments on immigration--his first has to do with mass deportation:

"Richard Nadler complains that his critics didn’t address his main premise: that conservatives are advocating “mass deportation,” and that such a position is sure to alienate Hispanic voters. That’s because there are no serious advocates of “mass deportation.” If conservatives were in fact supporting the mass roundup and deportation of 11–12 million people, losing the Hispanic vote would be the least of our problems. But, of course, mass deportation is not the only alternative to amnesty. Instead, the position that many conservatives (and others) actually favor is attrition through enforcement — a reduction over time in the illegal population through consistent, comprehensive application of the law, something we have never really attempted.
The principle behind an attrition policy is simple enough: dissuade more prospective illegals from coming and get more of those already here to leave — partly through increasing regular deportations but mostly through voluntary return. The result would not be a magical disappearance of the problem but a reversal of the trend, so that the total number of illegals starts decreasing with each year, instead of increasing."

Bingo. His second point echoes what I've been saying--how far should conservatives go in sacrificing principle, just to gain votes:

"Along those lines, let’s accept for the sake of argument that a pro-enforcement stance on immigration would cost Republicans some of the one-third of the Hispanic vote that they customarily get (including in 2008), or that it would cost the GOP the chance to increase that share. The question then is, how far should any party compromise its beliefs in order to expand the tent?... it’s likely that opposition to affirmative action is a “deal-breaker” for many, perhaps most, black voters. Gallup reports that something like three-quarters of blacks support affirmative action, a figure that holds steady among self-identified liberals, moderates, and conservatives. Should Republicans embrace racial preferences in the search for these votes?"

Answer: no. We can't simply derive our platform from polls. To do so would make conservatism not a set of principles, but...a nothing.