It seems to me paramount that Brooks, Giuliani, and others understand once and for all that there is no 'anti-immigration' movement in this country and there ought not to be a 'pro-immigration' movement. Start here with Brooks' op-ed on 'The Real Rudy' from yesterday:
Giuliani continued: “I believe the anti-immigrant movement in America is one of our most serious public problems.” It can “be seen in legislation passed by Congress and the president.” (Republicans had just passed a welfare reform law that restricted benefits to legal immigrants.) “It can be seen in the negative attitudes being expressed by many of the politicians.”
Giuliani said, somewhat unfairly, that the anti-immigrant movement at that time continued the fear-mongering and discrimination of the nativist movements of the 1920s and the Know-Nothing movement of the 19th century.
Not just 'somewhat unfair,' deliberately conflating an anti-illegal-immigration movement with our most famous anti-immigrant movement is an abuse of logic to further the means of politics. Take away illegal immigration -- at a minimum, illegal immigration at its current insane levels -- and you take away the national popular anti-illegal-immigration movement. It's that simple. The die-harders who remain will likely be, in vast measure, those true, don't-trust-the-swarthy-man anti-immigrants who have always been a shrinking minority cadre in the US since our colossal waves of legal European immigration. Yes, the swarthy man was once from Greece and Sicily. That's progress.
So much for the supposed 'anti-immigrant' movement. But that's the way the pro-legal-or-illegal-immigrant movement characterizes its opposition by characterizing itself as For Immigrants All. Brooks likes that Rudy. I can't stand him:
"There are times,” he declared, “when undocumented aliens must have a substantial degree of protection.” They must feel safe sending their children to school. They should feel safe reporting crime to the police. “Similarly, illegal and undocumented immigrants should be able to seek medical help without the threat of being reported. When these people are sick, they are just as sick and just as contagious as citizens.”
This was a fervent speech. And it’s one of many such speeches Giuliani has made over the years. On Sept. 19, 1995, he delivered an immigration speech at the United Nations in which he noted, “Sometimes leadership means taking unpopular positions, rejecting harmful political fads.”
A sovereign political entity seriously damages its own viability when the exclusive enjoyment of the liberties and guarantees shared amongst citizens is considered a harmful fad. Giuliani was clever enough to make two very different arguments about funding medical care for illegals, "just as sick and just as contagious." For everyone who puts humanity above polity, Giuliani offered the emotional satisfaction of extending a helping emergency room to noncitizens in the recognition that they suffer just as much as citizens who suffer from the same or similar sicknesses. And for those who recognize the worth of keeping the integrity of citizenship intact, Giuliani offered the reminder that contagious noncitizens can infect the body politic. The appeal of this new Gersonian politics is to point out that both arguments are not inconsistent and to suggest that we take both to be true. The problem is that this approach unites a political and a nonpolitical question under a rubric that purports to hold politics and nonpolitics -- or, really, anti-politics -- in a state of complete noncontradiction. Citizenship -- the bedrock of political order in a democracy -- is made to go hand in hand with noncitizenship and anti-citizenship. And that's the 'pro-immigrant' movement.
Yes, churches and charities could, and do, watch out for those 'in the shadows.' But only 'government' -- that mendaciously abstract word meaning Only The Federal Government -- can deploy the unchallengeable and national force able to 'move' when 'people' are 'hurting', in the infamous terminology of President Bush. What we saw in Katrina was a lot of 'government' doing a lot of 'moving', obscuring too the distinction between 'citizens' and 'mere people' that, let's face it, is specifically what made Katrina an outrage. But all fell under the great abstract category of 'hurting', which easily includes the horrendous extremity of American citizens wiped out by a massive hurricane but also just as easily, if Rudy/Brooks is to be believed, includes getting shot during a human trafficking deal gone wrong, or feeling the pain of feeling unsafe while getting your children a public education, or lots of other less horrendous or less worthy things. Of course there is a middle ground here full of highly-touted gray areas, but the 'only government' position, the 'help the hurt' position, the heroic/compassionate/Helmut Kohl position, revels in its pious ability to refuse to countenance any gray areas at all. Hurt is hurt! Compassion is compassion! Government! Heroism! Just say Yes! Eros lo volt!
I am still working on figuring out a way to make this restatement of what seems so obvious not sound cranky and extremely jaded to the only people that really need to be persuaded by it -- its foes. Because their likely counterattack is something along the lines of "Your Mean!" or "You Don't Love People Just Because They're People!" Which can both not be true for someone advancing the arguments made here and also point toward the very aspects of politics' bare necessities that its enemies want to sweep away so recklessly in the name of kindness and love.