Why Conservatives Shouldn’t Support Anti-Immigration Laws


People often ask how to crack the Catholic voter.

Sure we’re pro-life, and for most faithful Catholics that puts us squarely in the Republican Party, or at the very least aligned with the modern American conservative movement.  But in another sense, when you start asking deeper questions, there’s a strong social justice current within the voting bloc as a whole.  Catholics who are monsters on pro-life issues (good monsters… the kind you’d see in Where the Wild Things Are) become labelled as squeamish moderates — or worse, liberals — when it comes to education, opposition to the death penalty, a preferential option for the poor, or a sensitivity to immigration.  In short, the Catholic voter doesn’t  fit inside any political philosophy, and as a result has been difficult for America’s major political parties to court.

I’ve seen Corey Stewart’s proposal on the Virginia Rule of Law Act, where he argues that Virginia should have an Arizona-style anti-illegal immigrant policy.

So let me get some things straight.  The free market has made the United States of America an economic paradise compared to the rest of the world.  This economic miracle — built on free trade — has persuaded 20 million human beings to risk their lives, limbs, property, and the violation of our laws to come to America and be a part of our prosperity.

The reaction of so-called free market conservatives?  It almost reads out of the Joseph Stalin playbook.  Use the power of the state, round up the offenders, and deport them to their own personal Siberia.

In short, free market economics are fine… until undesireables enter the equation.

Let’s not kid ourselves as to who these 20 million people are.  20 million Canadians, or Irish, or Europeans probably wouldn’t phase our American sensibilities so much.  In fact, we’d probably welcome them with open arms to revive our manufacturing base, do the jobs nativist Americans simply do not do, or to reinvigorate our population replacement rates.

But it’s 20 million Mexicans.
20 million people of a foreign people (i.e. not European).
20 million people who don’t speak English.

…and so, rather than appealing to our logic, we appeal to baser instincts.

We neglect for a moment that 20 million people are within our borders because they want a better life for themselves and their family.  20 million people willing to work hard, build businesses, make money, and be a part of the community.  You know, the things America used to stand for?

Allow me to entertain a different idea.  Conservatives ideally believe in the power of the free market.  Instead of rounding up and deporting every non-English speaking Hispanic, why don’t we encourage work visas?  Extend business opportunities to Central America?  Take those 20 million “illegal” persons (as if such a concept existed) and recognize that 20 million potential Americans who believe in hard work and free enterprise are ready to enlist in the American Experiment?

Back to the Catholic voter for just a moment.  Suppose an illegal immigrant arrived at your door.  In most cases, the instinctive Catholic-influence individual’s first route of action is simple — food, water, warmth, and safety.  The last thing on your mind is calling the cops.

It’s not because one seeks to break any laws, but rather because the dignity of the human person demands we observe higher laws.  After all, an unjust law is no law at all, says the Catholic-educated scholar.

I do not recognize the argument that says 20 million people who desire to better their lot in life and participate in America’s free enterprise system are “illegal” in nature and should be turned away.  In fact, I take it a step further and say that such a policy of deportation is an utter betrayal of our free-market system, and should be deplored, condemned, and attacked by anyone truly calling themselves a conservative.

What is at stake isn’t the Hispanic voter writ large, as if Hispanics were the monolithic voting bloc Republicans have long erred African-Americans to be.  The Catholic voter is watching as well — 65 million strong  and 1/4 of America’s voting public are watching to see if a conservative ideology, which claims to prize individual liberty at all costs, is willing to betray those principles and use the power of the state to crackdown on the free market.

Which begs the question — should we do this, then what is it that conservatives truly prize?  The free market?  Individual liberty?  Or protectionism?

We’re smarter than draconian immigration laws.  Let the solution be something other than that which treats symptoms without addressing cures.  I firmly believe in conservative ethics, and I also believe very firmly in American exceptionalism.  I also believe that it is those values that are attracting 20 million people to our country like a magnet.

Corey Stewart is a good conservative, but he is dead wrong on this issue.  It would be a shame if, barely two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the best hope for freedom chose to turn the guns outward and build one of its own along the southern border of our nation.

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