Democrat pundit Bob Shrum made a point that was both useful and incendiary on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday morning, when he likened the Republicans’ new immigration principles to “apartheid.”
Shrum’s point was that granting millions of illegal aliens a kind of legal status, but not allowing them to apply for citizenship, would be morally unacceptable–equivalent, he said, to South African apartheid or to segregation in the Jim Crow South.
It is always tough to criticize a Democrat over Jim Crow analogies. After all, Democrats invented it, and they enforced it for a century, denying blacks both voting rights and basic human dignity.
But the real whopper is the apartheid analogy. Apartheid was morally reprehensible precisely because blacks were not immigrants to South Africa–though the white racist regime tried to define them as such by exiling them to so-called “homelands.”
There is nothing racist about wanting to enforce immigration laws, or to deny citizenship to people who have broken the law to enter the country. (By that definition, President Barack Obama is a racist, since he would also be willing to accept an immigration reform bill with no special path to citizenship.)
When the Supreme Court struck down parts of Arizona’s immigration law in 2012, the only part they upheld was the allegedly “racist” part, i.e. letting local law enforcement demand proof of legal residency from those stopped for other reasons.
But Shrum’s use of the apartheid analogy proves exactly what conservative critics of the Republican proposals have been saying for months: Democrats will never stop short of full amnesty for illegal aliens.
If Republicans think they can put the issue behind them with a compromise bill, they are setting themselves up for failure.