The defeat of the so-called immigration "reform" bill in the Senate last week was a stunning blow to the powerful coalition backing it, but opponents had better not break out the champagne just yet. The odds are better than even that the coalition will simply regroup, try again, and this time roll over the opposition like a Sherman tank.
The coalition is simply too powerful for anything as unfocused as mere American public opinion to resist for long. For one thing, it includes the entire Democratic Party, minus only a leftist fringe that cannot stand even small and temporary concessions. The Democratic strategists realize that if they can only put the 12 million or more illegal aliens already here on a track to eventual citizenship, two-thirds of them can be depended to vote Democratic when they get there. (That is the record to date of the Hispanics who are already citizens.) That's a net gain of 4 million votes in every national election after roughly 2020, and that figure will only grow as more Hispanics flood in under the other provisions of the "reform."
The other wing of the coalition consists, paradoxically, of people who mostly vote Republican. But they are businessmen who depend on cheap immigrant labor to fatten their profits, and who are willing to do whatever it takes to keep the current influx of Mexican laborers coming. Their spiritual ancestors were the pre-Civil War slaveowners, who really knew about cheap labor. The businessmen in question are hugely influential in the Republican Party, and have persuaded a surprising chunk of it (including the current president) to support the "reform" bill, even though every sensible Republican strategist realizes that in the long run they are risking party suicide.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with immigration, or with Hispanic immigration. It is perfectly true that America has always welcomed immigrants, and has prospered hugely from their contributions. But the flood of Hispanic immigration in the past three decades, both legal and illegal, has simply overwhelmed the normal assimilative capacities of American society, and if continued much longer (as you can bet it will be, as long the aforementioned coalition has a breath left in its body) it will transform the United States into a bilingual, bicultural hodgepodge with quite possibly fatal internal divisions. The result would be no different if we were suddenly inundated with 20 or 30 million Poles or Turks.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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