The Journal's Mistaken Immigration Position

Bruce Bialosky
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Posted: Nov 07, 2011 12:01 AM

Every day for the past 35 years, I have religiously read the Wall Street Journal. When I’m on vacation, I have the papers saved and I read them upon my return. I’ve often told people that if they just read the WSJ’s opinion pages, they would be well informed – but not in recent memory have the editors been as wrong as they are with their current position on immigration.

The September 24th editorial entitled “The Illegal Immigration Collapse” claims that the Republican presidential debates were distorting the importance of illegal immigration on the American economy. The editors, illustrating their point with a graph, describe how border apprehensions have plummeted over the last eleven years. In fact, they state that apprehensions – of which there were 463,000 in 2010 – are at the lowest level in 40 years.

They argue that the decrease is caused more by the weak economy than by improved border security. But they then not only accuse Republicans of shouting that the border isn’t “secure,” but also that, by their definition, the border will never be secure. I have rarely seen the WSJ editors present more fatuous claims and more contradictory arguments.

The first problem with their line of reasoning is the assumption that there is a relationship between the number of apprehensions and the number of illegal entries into the country. While there may be a correlation, the editors provide no statistics to back that up.

Furthermore, they imply that these people are coming here principally to work – and if there’s less work due to our anemic economy, then there’ll be fewer illegals; therefore our concern is exaggerated. What a ridiculous position! Does that mean that we could resolve our illegal immigration problem by re-electing President Obama and driving our economy into a total ditch? Under that thesis, think of all the money we could save on border enforcement since foreigners will no longer want to live in America. By this logic, we will have a surge of illegal immigrants as soon as the economy perks up again – so let’s just wait until then to bring up the subject.

They finish the editorial by stating – and here is where the WSJ editors join hands with the left – “Immigrants bring vitality and skills to the U.S. economy.” This clearly implies what liberals have alleged for years: that Republicans are anti-immigrant. I have never once seen a statement by a Republican presidential candidate against immigrants, and the editorial did not (and could not) cite one.

The fact is that America has immigration laws that have been and are still being abused – not only by people pouring in from Mexico, but also people crossing from Canada as well as those who come here on airplanes (on vacation and student visas) and never leave. People from every country abuse the system, squeezing out millions who aspire to immigrate legally but can’t get in because our system is strained by those who don’t follow the laws.

Let’s make this clear. Anyone who argues that people who are against illegal immigration are anti-immigrant are stupid -- just plain stupid. There is virtually no correlation. In fact, a strong argument can be made that those who willing accept illegal immigration are the ones doing harm to immigrants to this country and destroying the positive image of immigration.

It‘s not as if America has a miniscule number of immigrants. Our country is now home to 40 million immigrants – the highest number in American history – and twice as many as we had in 1990. That is a substantial amount by any calculation, and so a discussion of our immigration policies would seem to be in order for anyone seeking national office. But even broaching the subject too often brings hysterical charges of racism.

In general, Republicans oppose two things: acquiescing to illegal immigration and providing benefits to those individuals. I can’t understand why Latino elected officials so adamantly defend illegal immigrants and want to provide benefits to them. And I really can’t understand how Jerry Brown – Governor of an utterly bankrupt state – can sign a law to extend benefits to illegals and their offspring, in complete denial that these benefits are a magnet for other illegals.

Isn’t it a little contradictory to tell someone that while it‘s OK to enter America illegally, we now want you to obey the rest of our laws? The basic principle of the United States is that we must follow the rule of law; while, regrettably, most of the people who migrate from countries to the south (for example: 12 million Mexicans) come from countries that don’t. How can they tell their children (who everyone says are innocents): “I came here illegally, but you should follow all of the laws of our new country”?

Finally, the cost of underwriting illegals continues to mount even as we are staggered by government debt. The County of Los Angeles paid over $625 million in welfare costs for children of illegal immigrants in 2010, an obligation that will increase to $648 million this year – and that doesn’t even include the cost of educating these children in public schools or the cost of their parents.

Los Angeles is, admittedly, a large county with a significant number of immigrants, but this gives you an indication of the expenses being borne by American taxpayers for our lax policies. In these days of budget crunches, most taxpayers wouldn’t support this indulgence if they were fully aware of the financial implications, but (of course) the left-wing press doesn’t publicize these facts. What they do instead is chastise anyone who questions the concept of providing benefits to innocent children who were brought here by no decision of their own. They just can’t see the correlation between these programs and the continued flow of people over our borders.

Securing our borders finally became a matter of reality as Iran moved its program to enlist interests in Latin America against the United States as evidenced by the plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador. President Obama can now stop his snarky comments about moats filled with alligators and focus on doing his job securing the border.

We all embrace immigrants to this country, and all of us hope that they succeed beyond their wildest dreams. But there’s a difference between legal immigrants and illegal immigrants, and it is right for Republican candidates to advocate policies that eliminate the incentives of illegal immigration.

The question is why the WSJ editorial board and the left do not?