Friday, May 13, 2011

Dressed-up xenophobic nonsense

I usually enjoy reading things that John Zmirak writes, though I'll admit that I've only seen his pieces sporadically. Still, I was tremendously disappointed to read this recent piece in which he says that working for amnesty for illegal immigrants will guarantee more abortion:

If we were to grant amnesty — the full rights of citizenship, including the right to vote, collect government benefits, and use affirmative action at the expense of (for instance) impoverished white male war veterans — to the estimated 10-12 million illegal immigrants in America, we would be adding at the very least 6.3-8 million liberal, pro-abortion voters. No, these recent illegals need not, by the laws of physics, vote for liberal, pro-abortion Democrats. But that is how they will vote, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Anyone who claims to value unborn life, who favors padding the voter rolls with those who will vote to leave the unborn unprotected, is also either lying or simply and doggedly refusing to consider the consequences of his actions. A school bus driver who downs a fifth of Jim Beam before climbing behind the wheel might not have intended manslaughter against his tiny passengers — but when he crashes them into a wall, that is how the prosecutor will charge him.

I do not wish to imply that those who know how amnestied illegals are almost certain to vote and who still favor amnesty are not, in cold fact, pro-life. I would never leave such a statement to mere implication. I wish to say it outright: Those who favor amnesty for illegal immigrants are not, in cold fact, pro-life. That goes for politicians and voters, bishops and priests, men, women, and children, red and yellow, black and white. Such people may be pro-life in theory, as thousands of antebellum Southerners claimed to be inward abolitionists. But those who lobbied for admitting new slave states to the Union knew that their actions spoke louder than words. No one who really believes that abortion is a life-and-death issue will allow any secondary considerations (economic “justice,” “diversity,” or misguided compassion for lawbreakers) to trump the legal murder of a million Americans each year. This amnesty — proposed by a president who, as a senator, fought almost singlehandedly to keep partial-birth abortion legal — will make such legalized murder permanent. End of story.

All due respect to Zmirak, but that's not just nonsense; it's pernicious, ugly, xenophobic nonsense dressed up to resemble pro-life conservatism.

Jack Smith at the Catholic Key blog says it better than I can:

As a DREAM Act supporter, I suppose it accuses me of being “not, in cold fact, pro-life”. So, when I founded a pro-life club in my liberal Catholic high school with no faculty sponsor, collected a string of arrests for blockading abortion clinics across the country, canonically sued my liberal Catholic college for forcing the student union to support a pro-choice group – and got kicked out, ran numerous pro-life campaigns in California, battled squishy priests and chancery rats as editor of the diocesan paper in San Francisco and volunteered at a myriad of direct pro-life ministries over almost every decade of my life, I was merely collecting social capital in Pelosiville. I collected so much social capital in my San Francisco of five generations that I now live in Kansas City. (Thank God!, btw)

Mother Teresa would not meet Zmirak’s pro-life test. But I suppose that’s conjecture – We cannot know for certain whether Mother Teresa would have supported sending the children of illegal immigrants, who know no other country than the U.S., to a homeless existence in a foreign country – a necessary qualification for being pro-life in Zmirak’s world.

To be fair, Zmirak doesn't bring up the DREAM Act in his piece at Crisis Magazine which I linked to above; Smith provides the source for Zmirak's disapproval of the DREAM Act in his piece. But what Zmirak does say boils down to the following:
  • Illegal immigrants, if granted amnesty and full citizenship, will vote for Democrats;
  • Voting for Democrats causes abortion to remain enshrined in law, while only voting for Republicans can stop it;
  • Thus, allowing illegal immigrants to become full citizens with voting rights will derail all pro-life legislation;
  • Therefore, the solution is to create a permanent class of second-class citizens who bear all the responsibilities of citizenship (taxation, etc.) without ever being permitted the most important right of citizenship, the right to vote.
Did I already use the phrase "pernicious nonsense?" I did? Let's move on, then.

If illegal immigrants, granted amnesty and a path to citizenship, eventually become Democratic Party supporters and voters, whose fault will that be? Remember, there's no guarantee that this would happen; Zmirak seems to be conflating "illegal immigrants" with "Hispanic voters" and further presuming that all Hispanic voters will always vote for Democrats (which would probably surprise, say, the Cuban-American community considerably). But let's just say, for the sake of argument, that the majority of illegal immigrants present in our country today are Hispanic and that they tend to have as favorable a view of Democrats as Hispanic-Americans generally do. Would that be, perhaps, because the Democrats aren't sitting around spitballing about ways to defeat amnesty, create a permanent class of second-class citizens, or otherwise make it harder for illegal immigrants to pursue a path to regularize their situations in this country? And could the Republican Party do more, perhaps, to reach out to the Hispanic-American community especially on the social issues where we have a great deal of common ground?

Of course, that presumes that Zmirak's second point is accurate, and that voting for Republicans will stop abortion. How many Republican presidents have we had since 1973? How many of them have made Supreme Court appointments? How many times has the House, the Senate, or both been controlled by Republicans? How many "moderate" (e.g., pro-abortion) Republicans are in the House and Senate right now, fighting against even the most modest pro-life initiatives?

Sure, at the state and local level committed pro-life Republicans have begun to make a real difference. But is it a given that former illegal immigrants will always vote against these people?

Let's face it. At the national level the two parties are perfectly happy to maintain the present level of detente on abortion. In fact, I would say the goals and aims of the two parties, again at the national level, are very similar; it is only their methods and some other details that differ.

Because what both parties want, ultimately, is to win elections and thus increase their own power, wealth and influence by planned encroachments on private-sector activities. They differ in three areas: the target of encroachment, the speed at which the encroachment is to take place, and the amount of confiscatory taxation that will be needed to pay for it all.

Republicans, for instance, want to increase the size of the military and interfere with citizens' privacy on the grounds that national security demands this; they are also in favor, for another example, of using taxpayer money to bail out huge multinational corporations in times of economic stress. They are more patient then Democrats, mainly because it's hard for them to run as "Main Street vs. Wall Street" candidates if they make their endgame too obvious; and they like being the party of tax cuts, which means that they're willing to slow the rate of confiscatory taxation and create the illusion that they want taxpayers to keep more of our own money.

Democrats, of course, want to run healthcare and interfere with citizens' property rights in the name of the environment. They like to create an aura of urgency (e.g., people will die on the streets of their health problems caused by global warming if the government doesn't fix everything right away), and they are more transparent about their intention to practice predatory taxation for the good of the nation.

Abortion, gay marriage, and other social issues are merely a distraction to the national parties--useful when they can be dragged out to garner support at election time, but otherwise only useful if they happen to overlap an already-existing goal (e.g., taxpayer funding of abortion in government-run healthcare).

Sadly, I suspect that the issue of illegal immigration, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and related issues are also under the heading of "distraction" to the major parties at the national level. In this, too, I disagree strongly with Zmirak when he writes:
We probably should be grateful that the raid that enacted justice on the mass-murdering orthodox Muslim Osama bin Laden did not yield thousands of captives for a parade through New York City — as cathartic as they might have momentarily been. However, the president has not been slow to follow the rest of the pagan precedent, using his surge of popularity to press for special favors that will benefit his faction. No sooner have the crabs done picking the bones of bin Laden than President Barack Obama has announced another push to obtain legal amnesty and citizenship for the many millions of illegal aliens who still reside in the United States — who, as soon as they are legal, will prove ideal recruits for the Abortion (i.e., Democratic) Party.
Solving the problem of illegal immigration by creating an amnesty program won't create any new voters in time for the 2012 presidential election; appearing to care about illegal immigration and amnesty programs, however, just might--just as appearing to care about ending abortion once every four years works in favor of the Republicans at the national level. If anyone thinks today's Democratic Party leaders are altruistic enough to want to "fix" the problem of illegal immigration today for some voting benefits that might accrue to them (or, realistically, to their unknown successors) in a decade or so--well, I've got a box full of ballots from a precinct in Miami I can let you have cheaply.

No, I suspect that the Democrats want to "fix" illegal immigration with the same focus and urgency with which the Republicans at the national level have moved for the last 38 years on the abortion issue. Why fix something that's not broken, after all? So long as pro-amnesty voters will succumb to emotional appeals and vote for Democrats, while pro-life voters will succumb to similarly emotional appeals to vote for Republicans (sometimes without even bothering to find out whether the lady with the "R" next to her name is a member of this group or this one), what's there to fix?

What might be a real game-changer would be if some of us who are Catholic and conservative and formed by our Church's social teachings would work for a humane policy that might possibly even permit amnesty for those immigrants here who deserve it, while concurrently demanding exponential increases in punishments and fines for those who hire illegals or bring them here to work in defiance of our laws--all while loudly advocating for the right to life of every person from conception to natural death, a stewardship model for the environment that respects private property but sets sane regulation, a vision of military strength which does not require America to intervene in every "War on Terror" scenario that exists around the world, a realistic reform of health care that respects doctors and patients foremost, and insurance companies and bureaucrats much less...I could go on, but you get the point.

What won't be a game-changer is if we peddle dressed-up xenophobic nonsense as an excuse to oppose the very possibility of amnesty for some out of a nakedly partisan desire to keep the number of people who will vote for Democrats low, as if that is a guaranteed way, or perhaps the only way, to end the evil of abortion on demand in America. A truly pro-life ethos would avoid labeling a whole group of people as "the enemy" from an election perspective, and assuming that they aren't even reachable by pro-life activism; such an amount of disrespect for our brothers and sisters--many of them really our brothers and sisters in Christ--is hardly pro-life at all.


beadgirl said...

So, as a liberal, pro-life, Catholic Latina who refuses to identify as a Democrat or Republican, would I just totally blow Zmirak's mind? I mean, what possible box could he put me in?

Red Cardigan said...

Beadgirl--probably. Love it. :)

Rebecca in CA said...

I can't believe he was serious! My jaw is still on the floor. It seems like it should be obvious to a ten-year-old that yeah, people are going to tend to want to vote for people who are nice to them. Though you also make the more important point that Republican vs. Democrat has not made a tremendous amount of difference in the number of abortions...I speak as someone who has always voted Republican and is sick of both parties...

My excellent, conservative pastor, who is not afraid to discuss abortion from the pulpit, happens to be the son of illegal immigrants who were granted amnesty in the 1970s.

Anonymous said...

A couple thoughts:

(1) Zmirak has never been a GOP shill; he tends libertarian and is anti-torture. He voted for McCain in 2008.

(2) Crisis/Inside Catholic relaunched Monday along much more politicized lines -- advocating "free enterprise" and such. It's now much more politically conservative, imho.

(3) Zmirak has always been anti-(illegal)immigration. This is not new, although the tone of the piece may be.

I'm a big fan of Zmirak, but some of my more relatively traddie friends and I (also loyal to the Catechism and Vat II) were scratching our heads about this one.

Beadgirl: I'm curious what 'liberal' looks like to you. Because I would never -- by definition -- call someone pro-life liberal.

eulogos said...

I was first bewildered by this, then irritated, and now I think I am really upset.

How dare he! I think he is asking me to dehumanize one group of people in order to prevent the dehumanizing of another.

I look upon both groups as "the least of these, my brethren" and will not be pressured into setting one against the other.

Let the Republicans be the ones to find a just path to citizenship for illegal aliens, and they will earn their vote! Let the new citizens vote for whom they choose. Let the Church preach the value of life to them, as so many of them are hers. Let us continue to witness to the value of life. And pray to God to help us protect it. Let us choose right for its own sake and not be willing to sacrifice it for a guess about how a group of people will vote. Lets not equate right truth and justice with one group of politicians!

Susan Peterson

Red Cardigan said...

Amen, Susan! You said it well.

beadgirl said...

Anon, I consider myself liberal because that's pretty much my set point, and where I fall on a lot of issues (abortion and, uh, tort reform being the two biggest issues where I am "conservative") (I used to be a lawyer). On a more philosophical level, I would argue that one's approach to an issue, more than the final viewpoint on an issue, defines whether one is liberal or conservative. I used to be pro-choice, and my reasons for being so are still there -- I just no longer think killing the baby is the solution. I am very concerned about women and the way we are treated by men and society, and the way that has encouraged women (or forced them) to think that abortion is the solution. There are also pro-life advocates out there whose views on abortion are informed by conservative, or even misogynistic, philosophies, so they would be conservative and pro-life.

There are liberal pro-lifers, and even a handful of atheist ones. One of the greatest myths to come out of the abortion debate is the idea that there is a one-to-one relationship between pro-choicers and liberals/feminists, and between pro-lifers and conservatives/anti-feminists. Humans being what we are, it's a lot more complicated than that.

MightyMighty said...

American citizenship is not a right. People who reside here illegally do so at their own risk. It isn't fair to pretend that this really a human rights issue. I say this as someone who lived in Mexico and speaks Spanish. I have many friends in Mexico, many immigrant friends here. The flood of immigration into this country has done terrible things to our own working class, allowing the wage floor to sink. What about citizens' rights?

And why shouldn't illegals pay taxes on money earned here? You can't buy the right to vote.

And lastly, the Republicans=corporate whores bit was really poorly done. If you look into the data, Wallstreet backs up Democrats far more often because they are far better friends. This is just using a stereotype of Republicans. They have their issues, including being lukewarm on abortion and cowardly on the reforms they should support, but they are more like "corporate whore-ettes".

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Citizenship for persons born outside the United States is indeed not a "human rights" issue collectively.

But, citizenship for people who were brought here as tiny children, grew up here, know no other home, are not adaptable to living anywhere else, is a humanist issue, in the finest humanist traditions of (inter alia) the Roman Catholic Church.

Citizenship for people who came here as adults, and have lived her for a long time, is a pragmatic compromise with reality. Either American citizens were unwilling or unable to take jobs that needed doing in this country, OR, American employers cynically brought impoverished masses in to keep wages down, but, either way, the individuals and families who are now settled here should be treated as individuals. On a mass basis, we can't accomplish the mass deportation of 12 million people without ending up, with the best of intentions, perpetrating what will turn into something like the Armenian genocide. (Some people knowledgeable about that part of the world say the Turks only INTENDED to deport people from a war zone, but we all know that is not how it turned out). So, let's do something workable that doesn't tear our communities up. The 50s are not coming back.

Bead girl: I half way agree on tort reform. I want tort reform that discourages the "somebody ought to pay me for this" nonsense every time something bad happens, BUT, leaves some room to hold corporations accountable that try to control costs by dumping real business expenses on their neighbors downstream, downwind, not to mention vulnerable employees.

Lois in Indy said...

Agree with you totally, Red Cardigan. Thanks for being so good at what you do. Lois in Indy

MightyMighty said...

I do understand the heartbreaking implications of children brought here, who do not have the rights of citizens, but could not actually survive in their home countries, where they may not even speak the language.

However, an amnesty program without a sealed border is an open invitation for more illegal immigration. (Come on in! As long as you put your children in a terrible situation that isn't actually our fault, we'll make citizens out of y'all!) Another terrible idea is allowing people to have "anchor babies." No, if you are here illegally, or are simply not a citizen, your baby is not a citizen just because you gave birth here. Other countries do not permit this because of all the problems it breeds. In a welfare-easy country like ours, it is a disaster. Look at all of the hospitals in the SW that are closing because they cannot function in a country that demands that they treat people who can't pay, but refuses to at least block the pipeline of such people from running across the border to have their babies here. I love the scenarios where military families get worse coverage, at higher expense, than illegals who refuse to disclose anything about themselves. How is that fair?

Obviously the freebies for anchor babies don't stop at the L&D ward. Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill for illegals to go to school? Get free lunches? From an ethical standpoint, I don't see how one can justify confiscating huge swaths of one worker's paycheck to pay for services that somebody else wants, but isn't willing to pay for. Nobody is denying that the children of illegals benefit by being here. But Americans do not benefit from unfettered immigration, which has allowed numerous corporations to keep wages artificially low. The free market would raise wages for citizens if there wasn't a glut of cheap, illegal/semi-legal labor. This has been demonstrated in situations where the IMS deports a whole group of workers, and the factory that had hired them suddenly raises wages and offers transportation to their remote site for the domestic labor who know their time is worth more than minimum wage/less than min. wage. Both illegals and domestic workers are exploited in our current open-border situation.

Sealing the border and eliminating the "anchor baby/free ticket to welfare programs" incentives would do a lot to make me warm up to amnesty. (Which should absolutely require fluency in English and the basics of American history/law, just like my great grandparents needed when they came here.) To be an American citizen is to be an American. You can't really do that if you don't speak the language and mostly intend to take whatever the idiot taxpayers will foot.

Incidentally, I don't really get the whole amnesty=I hate babies thing either. I don't know if it is really xenophobic, or just illogic. We don't determine who gets to vote based on whether or not we like their politics.

Tom said...

Zmirak's argument as stated is invalid. The conclusion does not follow from the premises.

I think he's smart enough to know an invalid argument when he sees one. I suspect the reason he doesn't see the invalidity of his argument is that he doesn't notice he's begging the question of whether amnesty is a matter of justice.

(And no, you can't put justice in quotation marks and call it a secondary consideration. If you owe something to someone, you owe it to him.)

Tony said...

I will never consider amnesty until a physical *and* electronic barrier is completed on *both* our northern and southern border.

After granting amnesty to millions, Reagan promised that the fence would be build. It never was. When our politicians promise border security with amnesty, the amnesty always happens, but the security gets conveniently forgotten.

Once the fence is completed, and the flow of illegals has been stopped, we can begin to discuss what to do with the ones who are here. Until then, crack down on businesses who hire illegals, and continue to deport them.

Chris-2-4 said...

Do you have ANY actual evidence to prove he is WRONG to believe that approximately 65% of amnestied voters will vote for Democrats? (He certainly did not say ALL, just do the math.)

Or do you just HOPE that he's wrong?

The fact is, all those who are pro-life and support amnesty, better do MORE than just hope he is wrong. The Pro-life & Pro-Amnesty must be prepared to lead the way in ensuring that amnestied voters DON'T tip the scales more towards the Pro-Abortion stance.

beadgirl said...

Do you have any actual evidence that he is right? And even if he were right, do you support excluding citizenship for all people because of what some do? If not, what exactly would be the alternative -- only grant citizenship to those people who pinky-swear, cross their hearts and hope to die, not to vote for Democratic candidates? What if after they become citizens and someone finds out they voted for a pro-choice candidate, should we revoke their citizenship? What about those in this country who are already citizens, and pro-choice? Should we revoke their citizenship too?

Or, perhaps, just perhaps, it is un-American to say people must vote for a particular party if they want to gain or keep their citizenship?

Anonymous said...

This "anchor" baby business is troublesome.

A big study recently showed that most illegals are here a good 5 years before having more children. And even if they do, that child must be 21 to request that relatives be allowed to be legal citizens.

That argument doesn't hold up as a way to sneak into legal citizenship.

Our constitution is very clear on what makes you a citizen: you were born here (or in certain places not in the land mass of the country like military bases). This was a deliberate decision.

If we want Mexicans to stay home, we could legalize drugs here to reduce the violence and hopelessness many of them face. I'm just sayin.'


Siarlys Jenkins said...

I'm not opposed on principle to sealing the border. History strongly suggests that it is not possible. If there is safety and money to be made in one place, and in another place there is fearful violence and extreme poverty, people will flow from one to the other as naturally as an electric current.

But those who think it can be done, go ahead, try it. Meantime, I'm not supporting sending children to strange places where they don't speak the language.

As to how they will vote, individuals have an ornery way making up their own minds, for all kinds of reasons. Whatever the statistics, it won't be monolithic, and the longer people are here, the more it will depend on what each candidate, and party, has to offer.

My state is about to adopt a voter ID bill. On principle, I oppose it, but I suspect that those minority voters without ID will turn out to be precisely the ones who are so ill-informed that they vote Republican without even meaning to. Don't try to predict how any given measure will swing an election.