When the American people rose up in wrath a couple of months ago and stopped dead in its tracks a bipartisan effort to ram a phony immigration "reform" bill through the Senate, I warned that our triumph was inspiring but very probably short-lived. It is extremely difficult to focus the attention of the people at large on any policy, however bad, that is wanted eagerly by an influential minority.
The policy in question -- namely, to legalize the status of the 10 or 15 million illegal aliens in this country, keep them working here for peanuts, put them on track for citizenship and open the doors to millions more (all in the name of "reform") -- has the support of not one, but two powerful minorities: professional Democratic politicians, who calculate that the great majority of them will vote Democrat if they ever become citizens, and greedy businessmen (mostly Republican), who want their cheap labor no matter what the social consequences for the country.
My fellow columnist M. Stanton Evans is responsible for the brilliant perception that the Republicans (in John Stuart Mill's formulation, transposed from Britain) are "the stupid party" and the Democrats are "the evil party." Every once in a while they get together and hatch some policy that is both stupid and evil. This is called "bipartisanship," and the immigration reform bill was a spectacular example of it.
But, as I say, our victory almost certainly won't last. Having lost the battle for the moment, the proponents of what amounts to "open borders" are already preparing to win the war a little bit at a time. We will be offered small sips from the fatal cup, at first so minor and seemingly innocent that we will be tempted to let down our guard. But gradually, over a period of years, the whole draught will be imbibed.
The first innocent little sip, in fact, is already being presented to the Senate by Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., (who was also, of course, one of the big supporters of the defeated "reform" bill). This proposal, which already has bipartisan support, would give illegal immigrants who are high school graduates a path to U.S. citizenship if they complete two years of college or military service. Durbin has attached his inspiration as an amendment to some military authorization legislation that the Senate is expected to take up in September. Now, who could possibly oppose such a sweet little idea? The illegal immigrants in question are, after all, already high school graduates, which speaks well for their general ability. And if they top that off with two years in college, or two years of service in the military, who could possibly argue that they are not the very sort of people America should long to welcome as citizens?
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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