Jonah Goldberg

Well, you can say one thing for President Bush's new immigration reform proposal: It makes all of the people who say he's a reincarnated Adolf Hitler look like idiots (again). It's kind of hard to see Der Fuhrer offering what amounts to a sweeping amnesty to millions of Third Worlders residing illegally in our midst.

Alas, the advantages of Bush's broad-stroked proposal become less clear beyond that. Conservatives, including most of my colleagues at National Review, see the proposal as something close to a disaster.

Mark Krikorian, of the Center for Immigration Studies, argues in the current issue of National Review that Bush's proposal is the result of a White House completely shut off from the views of average Americans and the conservative base of the Republican Party.

He writes: "Republicans need to save the president from his advisers, lest amnesty become for him what illegal-alien driver's licenses were for Gray Davis: the disaster he embraced because everyone he knew thought it was a good idea."

Columnist Michelle Malkin is a bit more succinct. She says the plan is "an abomination."

On the other side, the immigration advocacy industry - a de facto branch of the Democratic Party - reacted with typical dyspepsia. Leading the pack was the National Council of La Raza (La Raza means "The Race," by the way. Talk about Hitlerian). Raul Yzaguirre, the group's president, who apparently had time to ask every Hispanic in the nation what he or she thought of Bush's proposal the very day it was announced, declared: "Hispanic Americans are extremely disappointed with the president's announcement today."

Yzaguirre explained that Bush's proposal didn't offer a clear path for all current and future "undocumented immigrants" - i.e. illegals - to become U.S. citizens. Groups like La Raza, it seems, won't be happy until crossing the border is the only qualification for citizenship.

While I'm much more sympathetic to the arguments from the right - in part because they're actual arguments instead of fluffy-wuffy sentiment - I'm not sure anybody's right on this one. In fact, I'm not sure anyone can be.

Illegal immigration is similar to issues such as gay marriage or Middle East peace. Such problems evolve over decades and the "facts on the ground" defy rational solutions on drawing boards.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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