At Outside the Beltway Doug Mataconis presents his argument in favor of giving DACA beneficiaries and “other illegal immigrants” a path to citizenship. Here’s the meat of his argument:
As it stands, of course, the conservative position regarding citizenship for illegal immigrants is one that is not held by most Americans. According to many polls taken over the last five years or longer, the majority of Americans and even the majority of self-identified Republicans support a path to citizenship for both DACA beneficiaries specifically and illegal immigrants generally. I’ve made note of the results of many of these polls in posts that can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. This issue, of course, is just one of the examples of the extent to which the hardline position that conservatives continue to take on immigration issues is out of step with the rest of the country, and it’s one of the many reasons why Republicans continue to lose ground with Latino voters, especially younger Latino voters who will become more and more of an important segment of a voting bloc that is only going to grow over the coming years. Taken in that light, I suppose that it’s understandable why many on the right would take the position that people who are in the United States illegally should never be allowed to become citizens. Given current voting patterns, such a prospect would be bad news for the GOP in many states, or even worse news considering that many states such as Arizona, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida are seemingly destined to become less hospitable to Republicans in the future unless the GOP becomes more palatable to Latino voters.
In reality, of course, isn’t any valid policy-based or moral argument against the idea that DACA beneficiaries, or indeed anyone who is in the country illegally, should eventually be allowed to become citizens provided that they meet the criteria.
or, in other words, proof by assertion and appeal to popular opinion, both fallacies.
I’ve made my views of immigration clear. I think that total immigration is presently higher than our society can reasonably assimilate, especially immigration of unskilled workers with poor command of English, and I think that mass immigration of low-skill and unskilled workers injures the workers with whom they’re in competition for jobs, particularly blacks. That’s what the preponderance of the evidence shows.
Here’s the Migration Policy Institute’s summary analysis of the present Mexican population in the United States. The MPI is generally favorably disposed to immigration, Mexican immigration in particular:
- In 2010, over 11.7 million Mexican immigrants (of all ages) resided in the United States.
- There were more than 10.6 million Mexican immigrants ages 18 and older in the United States.
- Nearly half of Mexican adults reside in two states: California and Texas.
- About three-quarters of Mexican adults residing in the United States were non-U.S. citizens in 2010.
- Nearly two-thirds of adult Mexican immigrants in the United States came after 1990.
- Six in ten Mexican immigrants in the United States did not have a high school diploma in 2010.
- In 2010, three out of four Mexican immigrant adults were limited English proficient.
- More than one-third of all employed Mexican-born men reported working in construction, extraction, and transportation in 2010.
- Over 62 percent of Mexican adults living in the United States were in low-income families in 2010.
Generally, I think the DACA beneficiaries should be given legal status, I’m open on the idea of giving them a path to citizenship although I think there are good reasons not to, and I’m opposed to granting their parents a path to citizenship. Here are my reasons:
- During the last amnesty in the 1980s only a minority of those eligible sought citizenship. We don’t have a lot of other evidence. Based on the information we have at hand, the issue of a path to citizenship isn’t nearly as pressing, except to those who want a grateful client population, as might seem to be the case.
- There is no practical way to verify eligibility under any set of criteria other than no criteria at all.
- No criteria at all is de facto open borders.
- The same arguments being made in favor of a path to citizenship for DACA beneficiaries will be deployed to erode any criteria over time.
- Unlimited immigration of people with no skills or low skills injures blacks, poor whites, and previous cohorts of immigrants.
- The characteristics of Mexican immigrants noted by the MPI tell us that they’re creating their own subclass, we’re not creating it for them. That argument is misdirection. If you want more social equality you should want to limit immigration rather than incentivize its expansion.
- The U. S. has poor social cohesion at best. It’s a structural issue.
- A large concentration of immigrants from a single country reduces our already weak social cohesion.
- Weakened social cohesion makes other things (e.g. sensible health care reform) politically more difficult than they otherwise might be.
- We shouldn’t incentivize illegal immigration.
- A path to citizenship is an incentive, even if a weak one.
- Separating the issue of legal status from the issue of citizenship reduces the political incentives for unlimited immigration, shifting it just a little from the political arena to the economic one. It will make it easier to craft a policy.
- The citizenry should decide who gets to be a citizen, not non-citizen immigrants.
In the absence of any actual counter-argument, any reasonable argument should prevail and the above are reasonable arguments.