Fewer Illegals, More anti-Illegal Sentiment

Recent data suggest that there has been a decline in illegal immigration into the United States, according to the Dallas Morning News. At the same time, “the national debate over illegal immigration grows more vigorous and polarized.”

This trend is not isolated to the issue of immigration. Often, just as a real or perceived problem is in retreat, hysteria and concern swell. Lots of activists and government busybodies in the 1920s and 1930s condemned the horror of child labor, for example, just as it was disappearing.

With immigration, however, the situation is very different, as even most opponents of illegal immigration say they don’t generally oppose immigration itself. Yet they do not seem to want to make all immigration legal simply by ending immigration controls.

But why is it that this issue has become a hot button, once again? It appears to becoming more of a national controversy than in many years. Even as illegal immigration is declining and Obama has increased deportations, nativist frenzy has ballooned. Perhaps there is cynical politics at play? George W. Bush was the most rhetorically pro-immigration president, probably, since Ronald Reagan. While many conservatives complained about America’s alleged “open borders” during the Bush years, the concern seems to have stepped up as a priority quite a bit. For many folks, the need to crack down on illegal immigration is one of their top of issues. It is particularly unfortunate for conservatives to have fallen for this, as so many of the first anti-immigration activists in the modern era were radical environmentalists, population controllers, and unionists on the left. There is nothing free-market, individualistic or Constitutional about border walling—it is, and should be, the domain of economic collectivists.

And what’s the supposed solution? Even more deportations? Arizona-style crackdowns on all of us? Prohibitions against employers hiring who they want to? It is to be hoped that if opponents of Obamunism cannot embrace immigration, they can at least stop worrying about aliens coming here to work and instead focus on the federal government that’s looting from all of us.

Anthony Gregory is a former Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent books American Surveillance and The Power of Habeas Corpus in America.
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