Carol Platt Liebau: The <i>Real</i> Backlash

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Real Backlash

As this LA Times story notes, 40,000 middle and high schoolers took to the streets yesterday to protest a law that does nothing but try to get a handle on illegal immigration.

It was a bad move, from a strategic sense. The relatively paucity of American flags -- versus the Mexican and Honduran flags much more in evidence -- coupled with the cries of "Viva la raza!" being broadcast on every major morning radio show, only raises the hackles of every American who believes that living here (not to mention doing so illegally) is a privilege to be cherished, not a right to be demanded.

As Debra Saunders points out, the much-feared "backlash" from Latino voters isn't likely to materialize -- as long as it's made clear, and repeatedly, that the debate isn't about whether legal immigration should continue. It should -- and no responsible American is challenging the legal immigration system. Rather, the debate is about whether the United States has the right (and the obligation) to exercise control over its own borders.

Too often, this controversy is being painted as nothing more than a matter of internecine Republican political warfare. That's not exactly true. This piece points out some rather revealing poll numbers:

--Some 59 percent say they oppose allowing illegal immigrants to apply for legal, temporary-worker status, an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found.

--More than six in 10, 62 percent, say they oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. Nine in 10 in that poll say they consider immigration to be a serious problem _ with 57 percent of those polled saying very serious.

--Three-fourths say the United States is not doing enough along its borders to keep illegal immigrants out, a Time Magazine poll found.


Hate to break it to the political class, but all those people can't be Republicans (would that they were!).

If the people in Washington don't tend to business, the much feared "backlash" will indeed occur, but it won't be Latinos revolting against the Republican Party. It will be ordinary Americans expressing disgust with politicans who are ignoring their concerns (and as the majority party in Washington, the GOP will suffer most).

Two important elements that could help defuse the issue? (1) A period where new controls on illegal immigration are put into place, and the American people have time to assess their efficacy; and (2) A renewed emphasis on requiring those living in America to assimilate.

4 Comments:

Blogger R Platt said...

I am, and always have been a strong supporter of the president but the “guest worker” program appears to be nothing more than a reward for millions of aliens that have broken the laws of our country. I also find it very disturbing that the senate committee voted to sanction the illegal activities of these criminals. Apparently, we do not have the will or political courage to secure our borders and stop this invasion, so will we just continue to eventually forgive all future illegal border transgressions?

9:58 AM  
Blogger eLarson said...

It could also be viewed as an unwillingness to bust the companies that are using this all-but-slave labor.

And if I hear "they do jobs Americans just won't do" I think I'm going to vomit. Since when have Americans refused to do construction work?

10:46 AM  
Blogger Pete said...

r platt is right: "Apparently, we do not have the will or political courage to secure our borders and stop this invasion..."

This is an area that I am extremely disappointed in Bush and the Republican majority in both houses! I expect it from the left - but if the right renigs on its responsibility, we are lost.

Other areas of political cowardice? Social Security and tax reform come to mind very quickly.

11:45 AM  
Blogger eLarson said...

Hugh Hewitt was right when he said that the parties are made up of coalitions. Among others, the GOP support base has a religious bloc, a libertarian-leaning bloc (those who don't want to spit into the wind by voting LP) and a sizeable bloc I call the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page bloc for whom business concerns trump all other concerns.

Bush can be whacked about as being part of the WSJEP bloc, but I think his unwillingness to confront Mexico directly stems from his overactive loyalty gland: he considers Vicente Fox a friend.

1:52 PM  

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