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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Americans Are Not Anti-Immigrant

Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute makes the point that the American public is not anti-immigrant, like many nativist would like us to believe.

In the face of widespread illegality, on the border and in the workplace, the public wants to restore the rule of law. Different soundings use different words, depending on their political orientation. Some talk about "cracking down," others about creating a pipeline that is "safe, legal and orderly" and still others about a "secure, controlled system" or "realistic limits, meaningfully enforced." But the numbers are virtually identical. As leading anti-immigration Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado puts it: "Every poll shows that over 75% of citizens support border security and strict enforcement of our immigration laws." This is what explains the apparent contradictions among other findings: The public is not anti-immigrant -- far from it. What people want, however they phrase it, is to regain a sense of control. But that hunger -- and this is the good news for reformers -- does not necessarily favor immigration opponents like Mr. Tancredo.

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