Publius / July 30, 2015

Hanson: The Way Forward on Immigration

In his latest column, historian Victor Davis Hanson lays out some hard truths as it pertains to illegal immigration. If America is to circumvent the pitfall that has ruined countless nations, he argues, both sides will first have to concede some realities. “Millions, we sometimes forget, are fleeing from the authoritarianism, racism, corruption and class oppression of Mexico,” writes Hanson. “They have voted with their feet to reject that model and to choose a completely different — and often antithetical — economic, social, cultural and political paradigm in the United States. Somehow that bothersome fact is lost in the habitual criticism of a hospitable and magnanimous America.”

On the other hand, he adds, “We should not minimize criminality. Creating a false identity, using a fraudulent Social Security number and knowingly filing inaccurate federal forms are serious felonies for most Americans. They are neither minor infractions nor simply the innocuous wages of living in the shadows, but undermine the sinews of a society. Numbers also count. When millions come to a country illegally, integration breaks down and tribalism takes over.”

The solution?

“Reform should first include strict enforcement of the border. A new, ethnically blind immigration system would select from among applicants based on skill sets and education, and consider candidates from all over the world — not on the basis of ethnic identity or proximity to the border. Immediate and lasting deportation would ensue for those who committed crimes or cynically chose to receive public assistance rather than work while here illegally. Many Americans are in favor of offering a path to legal residence to those undocumented immigrants who have long lived and worked in the U.S. and have crime-free records — after they pay a fine for breaking federal law and then wait patiently in line while the legal process plays out — as long as the border is sealed to prevent future illegal immigration. If some newly legal residents wished to become full-fledged citizens, then they could pass citizenship and English tests and assimilate into the American body politic.”

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