Euthanasia. n. the humane destruction of an animal accomplished by a method that produces rapid unconsciousness and subsequent death without evidence of pain or distress. -- Washington State University Office of the Campus Veterinarian
But for supporters of immigrant rights, it has never been clear that this compromise is one worth making. In the United States, opponents of guest worker programs point to historical abuses of Mexican migrants, seemingly threatened ideals of political equality, and America’s history as a land of assimilation and settlement. They question whether the United States can invest in such a program without losing the very values that make it a place worth breaking into. Such moral probity may be heartfelt and is surely anguished, but it ultimately does little to help the poor in the developing world make their lives even a little less wretched. [...]
The gains for immigrants today are at least as great as they were for itinerant blacks during the first half of the 20th century, simply because the differences in pay for the same work have ballooned. -- Kerry Howley, Reason
A yikes-o-matic phrase is dropped by the charming and brilliant Ms. Howley: "mobility rights". God let's please not lose the distinction between 'itinerant black' citizens and itinerant whatever noncitizens. It's a long and very worthwhile piece, and you should read it all, if for no other reason than that is throws into appropriately stark relief the bottom line of the immigration question: is it or isn't it fundamentally important that people who do stuff in America that gets them goods are US citizens?
I submit that it is. I submit that the maximum number of people who work in the US and live in the US should be citizens. The presence of back-and-forth laborers, especially in the open-endedly large numbers that my libertarian friends celebrate, does aggressive harm to politics and to the polity. They don't care, but I do, and I think my judgment should win out, naturally enough. I worry that the terms of the argument don't make much room for persuasion or counterpersuasion. You shouldn't be able to have a legal say in what the hell happens here unless you're a citizen: this strikes me as a rockbottom foundational principle of any sovereign entity. But someone could argue, and a lot of people do, I think, that politics as we knew it is obsolete, restrictive, brittle, and morally defective insofar as it 'forces' people either to not enjoy the benefits 'available' in the US or to do so only after running the gauntlet of citizenship. It's way too late to trot out my theory of citizenship, and why it matters, and, again, I'm shying away here mostly because I don't think there's any way to win converts, and because anyone who tolerates the argument I'm making probably does so because already they buy in at the gut level.
All of which leads me to the judgment I've held for some time: that the perfect tradeoff is ZERO new illegal immigration and NO guest worker program in exchange for TOTAL AMNESTY for everyone here. I'd take that deal in a heartbeat. But it's not good enough for the critics. They want to transcend citizenship. They want to make it irrelevant. And as much as I'm certain I'm right about the central importance of citizenship to the goods of politics, and the central importance of the goods of politics to the possibility of living rightly for large numbers of people together, I think, honestly, that I'm already an anachronism, and citizenship is dying, and the libertarians are partisans of a vast social logic that'll do what it does, and what it'll do is wipe away citizenship as a legitimate grounds of legal discrimination, and eventually render politics semi-pointless, trivial, the equivalent of the guys that did Mitt's lawn -- present but barely accounted for, and then only at sufferance, and then only to grease the wheels that enable our highly productive and highly consumptive lives.
Citizenship snobs are fighting a losing war, and they're gonna go down hard over the next 50 years, and this saddens me. When I sit here and blog and hear the Mexican day laborer dude, across the alley refinishing the roof deck, whistling Little Drummer Boy, I want him to be a citizen, not a transient, not a capital vehicle, I want him to choose, here or there, I want to either welcome him into my nation and my state as a political equal and political friend, and I reflect glumly on the machinery that grinds up those sentiments in favor of just enabling people to raise their standard of living simply because they're people. That's a warmhearted notion that will do great harm to this, and many other countries, because countries are political organizations, and politics matters, because it allows us to have relationships together that are uniquely good and not substitutable by economic or emotional or social or sexual or any other kind of relationships. If, in keeping with this strange 'forcing' meme, we start thinking that we owe it to people not to deprive them of goods that can exist as they are and be distributed to American citizens because they are American citizens, we will not only bum out a lot of jingo hayseed blockhead Republican voters but a lot of low-ed hard-work blue-collar Democrats -- what's left of them, after we send all their jobs away. You stir the populist pot at your own risk, my libertarian friends; the issue, despite the press, is not Ethnic Hatred but Citizenship; and yet I know you, not I, are sitting in the catbird seat of a worldwide phenomenon that can only be beaten back by political means, and which, over the past hundred years, has defeated and bullwhipped and enslaved and pacified politics at almost every turn.
So I ask: is party over?