Tuesday, June 19, 2012

personal experience as a crutch for empathy

I've wondered for a while exactly how a guy like Marco Rubio balances his beliefs on immigration with otherwise being a hardcore social conservative. Yglesias helpfully elucidates. Note this reporting here about the man's position:
Many people who came here illegally are doing exactly what we would do if we lived in a country where we couldn't feed our families," he writes in An American Son, which was released Tuesday. "If my kids went to sleep hungry every night and my country didn't give me an opportunity to feed them, there isn't a law, no matter how restrictive, that would prevent me from coming here." Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants and has been among the more vocal members of the Republican Party about the need to soften rhetoric on immigration. He planned to introduce a bill that would help young undocumented immigrants gain legal status -- although he said Monday that the legislation is unlikely to come up -- but also opposes comprehensive reform that would grant legal status to many.
That quote is exactly, precisely the liberal critique of anti-immigration legislation. There are various reasons to favor more open immigration policies from an intellectual standpoint, but this is the emotional reason, the one that animates people to actively oppose rather than merely grumble. The people who are willing to brave the guns of soldiers and vigilantes, the high fences, the scorching Arizona sun, the tumultuous Atlantic waters, and the double-crossing coyotes for the chance to secure a better life for themselves and their loved ones are the very people we should want here the most. Their actions bespeak bravery, inner strength, an unwillingness to settle for less than they and their loved ones deserve.

How does he square the circle of opposing "path to citizenship" legislation for those who came here illegally? Well, as Matthew helpfully notes, it's always legal in American law for Cubans to come here; it's only illegal on the Cuban side. Thus, it's only Mexicans and Guatemalans and Hondurans who come here "illegally," not Cubans.

Here we are again: a so-called "thoughtful conservative" who wants liberal policy for himself and his own but conservative policy for everyone else.

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