Hugh Hewitt

On Saturday I will be debating Mark Kirkorian on immigration policy before the National Review Institute.

I am a "wet," on the topic. Have been since I opposed California's proposition 187 in 1994.

Mark, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, is a "dry."

Here's the interesting thing about out "debate," to be moderated by National Review's Jim Geraghty: Even if one or the other of us succeeds in persuading everyone in the room of our point of view, it doesn't matter. Not a lick. The GOP is branded as an anti-immigrant party, especially with voters under 30, the suicide demographic. I call it that because if that demographic remains fixed against one or the other of the parties, it is suicide for that party.

So all the debates in the world don't matter. We have to get past the issue. Every day in which immigration is debated in the national media is another day the GOP loses a media cycle. Bringing up "deportation" hasn't quite reached the level of self-destructiveness as discussions of rape, but it is a close second. The GOP needs to welcome whatever bill the president sends up, improve on it by substituting some of the best ideas of Senator Rubio, and passing it. ASAP.

If the president dawdles, then Rubio should introduce his and arrange for co-sponsors in the House. Going slow is the political equivalent of ecotourism in the Korean DMZ. Nothing worth seeing and a good chance of getting killed.

In 2007 I opposed the GOP immigration reform bill because it was lousy. I read it line by line and it was a mess, as was quickly admitted by even some of its sponsors after it appeared. I am worried the same staff geniuses who brought that forward now bring us Nightmare 2.0. Hopefully Rubio will stop them.

Immigration reform is fairly simple: Good people who are here illegally get to stay but not be eligible for some benefits immediately and they do not get to vote in a vast regularization. If you want to be a citizen as opposed to a permanent resident you have to go home and get in line for what should be a vastly expanded visa system. We keep upping border security by finishing the fence and overhauling the visa system.

To those who say we don't need more people, I refer them to the pro-life movement which is this week memorializing the loss of 55 million unborn Americans. Clearly the country has a lot of population growth it could use.

Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt is host of a nationally syndicated radio talk show. Hugh Hewitt's new book is The War On The West.