Carol Platt Liebau: On Illegal Immigration

Thursday, November 17, 2005

On Illegal Immigration

Linda Chavez bemoans the "demagoguery" surrounding the issue of illegal immigration, and attributes Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore's defeat, in part, to his misuse of the issue.

That's fine, as far as it goes. But it's more likely that Kilgore lost because (1) he inexplicably refused to sign a no-new-taxes pledge and (2) waffled all over in a question about what he would do if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Finally, attitudes in Virginia about illegal immigration aren't necessarily generally representative because, after all, Virginia isn't a border state.

People there, I would bet, hold roughly the same views I did before I married and moved to California in 1998. For them, certainly, illegal immigration is a violation of the law (setting aside the most important consideration -- implications for terrorism post 9/11) and is therefore unacceptable; but on the other hand, inexpensive labor keeps costs down and holds greedy and overly demanding unions at bay.

It takes some experience living in a border state, where the spillover effects of the illegal immigration are felt every day (as I explained here) to really understand why the issue elicits such passion among some.

Finally, Ms. Chavez writes:

Yet most polls show that illegal immigration is way down on the list of concerns motivating most voters, and Republicans may be confusing the intensity of the small number of people for whom it is a top priority - usually about 10 percent of voters - with its overall appeal as an election issue.

But here's a nightmare scenario that all Republicans should keep in mind: Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee in 2008, running against a "Republican regular." Then, out of the southwest, a Perot-like single issue candidate emerges, running solely on border security. Certainly, that candidate can't win. But he could, perhaps, attract enough otherwise-Republican voters in states like New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and even Oklahoma that President Clinton II (elected, like her husband, with only a plurality of the vote) would be striding into the Oval Office come January '09.

That's why the GOP has to address the illegal immigration problem -- which is, above all, a national security problem! -- and the sooner, the better.


Blogger eLarson said...

Other than Kilgore wanting to widen 66 within the perimeter of the Beltway, does anyone know any other thing he was for?

I think he last because his campaign was teh suck.

10:57 AM  

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