Victor Davis Hanson

Nothing about illegal immigration quite adds up.

Conservative corporate employers still support the idea of imported, cheap, non-union labor -- in a strange alliance with liberal activists who want the larger blocs of Latino voters that eventually follow massive influxes from Latin America.

Yet how conservative are businesses that in the past flouted federal law -- and how liberal are activists who undermined the bargaining power of American minimum-wage, entry-level workers, many of them minorities?

The remedies for illegal immigration under discussion are just as incoherent. If the government now plans to offer some foreign nationals a pathway to citizenship, does it also suddenly have the will to determine who among illegal immigrants does not qualify for citizenship?

Millions of illegal immigrants have resided in the United States for some time. They have not been convicted of crimes. And they have been hard-working and self-supporting. But if the majority deserves a chance to obtain legal residence and begin the process of citizenship, what about others who would not qualify under those same considerations?

There is also talk of reforming legal immigration as well. From now on we would select most immigrants for citizenship not by their place of origin, or by the fact of their prior illegal residence in the United States, but on the basis of needed skill sets and education, and their willingness to wait in line legally.

Yet are loud proponents of "comprehensive immigration reform" really willing to embrace the reforms they boast about? It might spell the end of privileging millions from Latin America to enter the United States without requisite concern about legality, education, English fluency or particular skill sets.

Massive illegal immigration is not ethnically blind or based on education. For decades it has favored more proximate Latin American arrivals who can easily cross the U.S.-Mexican border over those from distant Asia, Africa or Europe who simply cannot.

The politics of immigration are just as weird. Democrats, buoyed by the two election victories of Barack Obama, now welcome large pools of new Latino citizens to vote in bloc fashion for Democratic candidates. But if the border were actually closed and immigration returned to a legal, systematic process, then in time Latinos -- in the pattern of Greek-, Italian- and Armenian-Americans -- would follow most other ethnic minorities and decouple their ethnic allegiances from politics.


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.