But the campaign for legalization does not stop at stupidity and farce. It adds mendacity as well. Such as the front-page story in last Friday's New York Times claiming that "a large majority of Americans want to change the immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status."
Sounds unbelievable. And it is. A Rasmussen poll had shown that 72 percent of Americans thought border enforcement and reducing illegal immigration to be very important. Only 29 percent thought legalization to be very important. Indeed, when a different question in the Times poll -- one that did not make the front page -- asked respondents if they wanted to see illegal immigrants prosecuted and deported, 69 percent said yes.
I looked for the poll question that justified the pro-legalization claim. It was question 61. Just as I suspected, it was perfectly tendentious. It gave the respondent two options: (a) allow illegal immigrants to apply for legalization (itself a misleading characterization because the current bill grants instantlegal status to all non-criminals), or (b) deport them.
Surprise. Sixty-two percent said (a). That's like asking about abortion: Do you favor (a) legalization or (b) capital punishment for doctor and mother? There is of course a third alternative: what we've been living with for the last 20 years -- a certain tolerance of illegal immigrants that allows 12 million to stay and work but denies them most of the privileges and government payouts reserved for legal citizens, and thus acts as at least a mild disincentive to even more massive illegal immigration.
Indeed, unless the immigration bill is fixed, that alternative is what the country will in essence choose when the bill fails. My view is that the current bill could be fixed with a very strong border control provision. But even then, let's make sure we know what's really in the bill and not distort what the American people are really demanding, which is border control first. And for god sakes, keep Einstein on the fast track.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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