POLI-PATROL

PoliPundit takes up the Pat Buchanan banner on the immigration reform package, sparking a long debate with PoliBlog’s Steven Taylor: here and here, including lots of interplay in the comments section. Rob Tagorda also gets into the action.

I share some of PoliPundit’s frustrations with this issue but think they’re overblown. Many aspects of mass Mexican immigration are troublesome, not least of which is the growth of a seemingly permanent underclass. But there’s frankly nothing palatable that we can do about these things. Building a wall on the 1500-mile southern border would be expensive and ineffective. Not to mention creepy. And we’re not going to put troops on the border and order them to shoot people whose crime is being poor and seeking to better themselves by taking a job most Americans would consider beneath them. At some point, we have to recognize reality–we want cheap laborers for these jobs and have a ready supply of them desperate to take them.

This new immigration law is likely to have a rather marginal effect on the situation. As with illicit drugs and campaign financing, we’ve been trying for decades without success to defeat the law of supply and demand. In all these cases, it seems to me that the solution is to take as much of the activity as possible above ground where we can at least keep an eye on it. In an e-mail with Steven last evening, I recalled Ross Perot-Al Gore NAFTA debate. Perot kept showing pictures of how bad things were in Mexican border towns and saying that’s what it would be like under NAFTA. No, Ross, they’re like that now: How do you think they got the picture?

FILED UNDER: US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.