WSJ Attacks 'Blood-and-Soil' Republicans over Opposition to Immigration Bill

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has attacked opposition to the immigration bill that passed in the Senate last week, urging the Republican-led House to "improve" the bill, "not kill it." The bill's border security provisions, the Journal argued, were not weak, as conservatives had charged, but were "wretched excess," the result of "the Republican party letting its blood-and-soil wing trump its supposedly free-market principles."

It might seem odd to attack "blood-and-soil" conservatives (a phrase of Nazi provenance, evidently) on the eve of July 4th. But one need not wave the American flag or protest the obviously offensive connotations of the insult to defeat the Journal's arguments for the Senate bill. By arguing that economic growth should drive immigration reform, the Journal actually undermines the "Gang of Eight" legislation it attempts to defend.

The editorial states, up front, that its "preferred" option for immigration reform "would focus entirely on easing the way for more people to come legally." Border security plays no role whatsoever in the Journal's considerations. That is an astonishing position for a newspaper that has taken a strong stance in favor of the war on terror, including, recently, a strident defense of the National Security Agency's surveillance powers.

Furthermore, border security is not just about stopping terrorism. It is also about the rule of law. And the rule of law, in turn, is fundamental to economic growth. The Journal well understands that fact. It co-publishes an annual "Index of Economic Freedom" with the Heritage Foundation, in which "rule of law" is not just one of the criteria, but the first criterion for economic freedom, before limited government and open markets.

The rule of law is what sets the U.S. apart from many of the societies whence immigrants come. The stifling welfare socialism of Europe; the maddening corruption of the developing world; the brutal repression of the world's lingering tyrannies--all drive ambitious, talented people to our shores in the hope that the rule of law that Americans enjoy will allow them to enjoy the rewards of their hard work. If not, they will go elsewhere.

The fundamental problem with the Senate immigration bill--indeed, with any immigration bill--is that there is no longer any reason to trust the Obama administration to enforce even the mildest of border security provisions. The president has not only refused to enforce the nation's immigration laws, but has brought legal action against Arizona for trying to do so, and ignored Congress in imposing a "Dream Act" by executive fiat.

If any immigration bill passes, it should focus solely on border security and law enforcement--not just because of the importance of the rule of law to economic growth, but because that is the preference of the American public, given the failure of past rounds of immigration reform. A bill that links a so-called "path to citizenship" to ineffective border security provisions will lack democratic legitimacy, much as Obamacare still does today.

The thornier issues of guest-workers, skilled immigrants, and illegal aliens already in the country should be handled piecemeal--separate from, and subsequent to, border security legislation. That is the "alternative" the Journal demands from opponents of the Senate bill: not deportation, but delay--hardly a fatal flaw, given that the Senate bill itself allows most illegal immigration to continue, according to the Congressional Budget Office. 

The Journal is right to criticize the Senate bill's law enforcement provisions: many of them are mere sound and fury, signifying nothing, mistaking expensive inputs for security outcomes. But the greater weakness of the bill is its failure to restore the rule of law, which did not begin with Obama but has accelerated under his administration. That will, in turn, hurt economic growth. The so-called "blood-and-soil" patriots are right.

This post has been updated.


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