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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Encouragement for the Besieged

David Brooks has some encouragement for Republican Senators who support a compromise on immigration reform legislation (NYT subscription):

For weeks now — months, actually! — you've been besieged by the close-the-border restrictionists, who shut down your phone lines and scream at you in town meetings. You've been hit with slopping barrages of manure by Limbaugh, Savage, Levin and every other talk-radio jock in the Northern Hemisphere. People who don't run for office don't understand how disorienting it is to have your base, your own people, suddenly turn carnivorous and out for your flesh.

They say you and your fellow immigration compromisers are performing the biggest act of political suicide in modern history, and you wonder whether they are right.

What bothers you about the restrictionists is not that they are primitives or racists. They're not. It's their imperviousness, their unwillingness to compromise. They don't have the numbers to govern, but they think they have the numbers to destroy.

They trumpet the studies indicating that immigration decreases wages, but ignore the ones that show it stimulates wages and growth. They mention the strains first-generation immigrants put on social services, but ignore the evidence that immigrants' children are so productive they more than compensate for the cost. They talk about the criminal immigrants, but look past the vast majority who are religious and family-centered.

You haven't been able to get your restrictionist friends to think pragmatically. Do they really think they'll get a better immigration bill in the next Congress, when there are more Democrats, or under President Hillary Clinton or John McCain? Do they really want to preserve the status quo for another decade? Do they think the G.O.P. can have a future if it insults even the Hispanics who are already here?

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