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WSJ laments "Immigrant Scapegoats"

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By See-Dubya  •  April 24, 2008 03:23 PM

I’ll confess I’m at a loss about how to respond to the WSJ’s Jason Riley, who is coming out with a new book called “Let Them In:The Case for Open Borders”. His column today argues against what sounds to me like a straw man–the rising “anti-immigrant” tide that accompanies tough economic times.

While I don’t expect Riley to respond to every argument against open borders in a single column, he has framed the problem in a typically annoying way. He elides the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants because, hey, if the border were truly “open” there would be no such thing as an illegal immigrant, right? And if he doesn’t believe in that distinction, he won’t grant it to his opponents either. At least for this column, opposition to illegal immigration is conveniently lumped into an ugly wad of “anti-immigrant” sentiment.

Which is par for the course in the Wall Street Journal’s boardroom. Last year during the shamnesty debate, they posted an unbelievably condescending and damaging video of their editorial board on the subject. It’s since been taken down (and I can’t say I blame them) but clips of it were used in this Vent video at Hot Air. Jason Riley’s there, regretting crackdowns on businesses that might force illegal aliens to self-deport.

It looks like the issue is basically a matter of labor markets for Riley, and the opposition he sees is all fundamentally protectionist. He makes some decent points in that regard, but then no one I know has ever disputed that open borders will give us cheaper lettuce and lawn care. The AFL-CIO might complain, but most conservatives support some degree of free trade, and that includes a free market in labor. Hey, I used to agree with much of the WSJ’s laissez-faire approach on borders myself. Then things happened, and border security seemed a bit more pressing.

Most everyone I know who disagrees with Riley supports legal immigration. They also support a system that is able to keep out people like this guy, and worse. Fred Thompson (sigh) memorably described the ideal system as having “high fences and wide gates”, and whether you like Fred or not, that phrase still resonates a lot more than the WSJ’s proposed constitutional amendment.

So, now that he’s handily dispatched that straw man, I hope Riley’s book will begin to address the arguments that really drive opposition to open borders. I hope, but given his paper’s record of smearing their critics as “irrational” and “nativist” instead of answering them–plus given the demonstrable success of border enforcement and employer crackdowns, which his own paper admits–my hopes aren’t very high.

{Post by See-Dubya.}

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