Victor Davis Hanson

Nor is it very liberal to turn illegal immigration into an issue of identity and tribal politics. Too many advocates for open borders and amnesty argue about the politics of ethnic solidarity rather than considerations of immigration law. In other words, we do not hear much national outrage over the plight of the occasional Pole, Nigerian or Korean who overstays his tourist visa, but rather equate the circumvention of immigration law almost exclusively with social justice for Latinos.

How reactionary and illiberal that debate has become, when Mexican Americans who object to the undermining of immigration law are slandered as sellouts, while non-Hispanics who do the same are smeared as racists and nativists.

In fact, illegal immigration unfairly warped perceptions of undeniable Hispanic success. If one does not include millions of recently arrived poor Latin American foreign nationals in federal and state surveys, then Hispanic American citizens prove statistically to be assimilating, intermarrying, integrating, and finding economic success at rates comparable to many other immigrant groups of the past.

To mean anything, laws have to be followed. When newcomers choose to ignore them, then the entire structure of jurisprudence crashes as well. If aliens are free to ignore federal immigration law, then cannot citizens likewise pick and choose which statutes they find inconvenient?

Finally, illegal immigration has wrongly been couched in terms of a xenophobic and insensitive exploiter preying on a more noble and defenseless guest. In truth, the United States is the most generous host in the world, and never more so than during the present age.

There are now about 40 million foreign-born people residing in the United States, both legal and illegal immigrants. That is both the greatest absolute number and percentage of the population in our nation's history. No other country in the world is more liberal in its legal immigration policies or has been more caring toward new arrivals. To suggest otherwise is dishonest and shows an ignorance of how most countries, who now export their citizens to the U.S., treat any who would do the same to them.

We can argue about the history or the future of illegal immigration. But please spare us the psychodramatic appeals to a higher morality.

In most regards, illegal immigration has proven as immoral as it is unlawful.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.