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Mirror of Justice
Mickey Kaus at Slate lays the groundwork to claim "heads I win, tails you lose" in the upcoming crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
Critics of the "law enforcement, deport them all" philosophy on illegal immigration have long maintained that we clearly have a strong economic need for those immigrants (we'll call this the pro-business side). Supporters of that philosophy argue that there are plenty of Americans willing to do those jobs, if only the wages weren't depressed by all the illegal immigrants (we'll call this the pro-worker side).
To date, the Bush Administration has sided largely with the pro-business side of the debate. Much of the base of the Republican party is on the pro-worker side. Increasing pressure from the base has led the President to announce a new, widespread crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
Ought to be a good test, right? We'll see which side is right pretty quick. But not according to Mickey Kaus. Nope, according to him, the pro-worker side is proved right either way:
Is the recently announced Bush crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants
1) a desperate, Lindsey Graham-like make-up call to placate conservatives by enforcing existing laws (a possible precondition to winning some of them over to legalization of illegals) or
2) a Leninesque attempt to heighten the contradictions and create pressure for legalization by demonstrating to business and the media that actually enforcing the existing immigration laws is intolerable?
... If it's option 2, of course, then Homeland Security might intentionally choose to enforce the law in as clumsy, heartless, and lawsuit-inspiring a fashion as possible, in order to create the maximum number of negative headlines.
Got that? If we don't notice any economic problems, then the pro-worker side will claim to be vindicated because they were right all along. But if there are terrible economic consequences, then the pro-worker side will claim to be vindicated because the Bush Administration purposefully tried to screw things up, because all of the Administration officials charged with implementing the new crackdown say that it will, in fact, be a disaster.
Then Kaus creates a new twist that I've not heard before in this debate. Suddenly, he wants to modify the pro-worker argument to say that it's the new illegal hires which are the problem, not the people who have been here for "decades."
For example, wouldn't it be better to focus enforcement on new hires whose Social Security numbers don't match, rather than disruptively forcing the firing of existing workers who may have been here for decades?
Is this an opening in the anti-amnesty front? Can we provide "amnesty" for those who have been here for "decades" without "undermining the rule of law"? What's the cut-off? 20 years? 10? 5? 1?
Kaus is hedging his bets and shifting the position of the anti-immigration crowd now that the Bush Administration is about to do what they have been shrilly demanding that he do for the past several years. The anti-illegal-immigrant faction advocated the policy, they should have the cajones to take responsibility for it, however it comes out.
Hat tip: Instapundit.