Jacoby of the Globe: Border Fence Like Berlin Wall

Is liberalism contagious?

For some years, Jeff Jacoby has been a brave and lonely conservative voice on the op-ed pages of the Boston Globe, one whose voice I have admired. All the more disappointing, then, to read his column this morning, The demonizing of illegal immigrants, which could just as easily have been written by his erstwhile Globe colleague Thomas Oliphant, the quintessential effete East Coast liberal. Consider these excerpts:

Illegal immigrants don't steal across the Mexican border because they lack the patience to wait their turn in line. They do it because there is no line for them to wait in. The great majority of immigrants who enter the United States lawfully qualify for visas because of family ties: They are lucky enough to be related to a US citizen . . . For most illegal immigrants, a legal option simply doesn't exist.

To . . . the Pat Buchanans, the Lou Dobbses, the conservative talk-show hosts and their riled listeners -- the illegal entry is all that matters. They don't ask whether it makes sense to bar industrious and productive go-getters who value America as a land of opportunity and who supply labor for which there is a yawning demand.

[S]omething is not wrong -- intrinsically wrong, bad in and of itself -- merely because it is illegal.

Someone who crosses the border without a visa in order to find work doesn't deserve to be branded a "criminal."

The demonizing of illegal aliens keeps us from having a rational discussion about US immigration policy.

Most shocking is Jacoby's final paragraph:

Twenty years ago this week in Berlin, President Reagan uttered his memorable challenge: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Conservatives who extol Reagan's legacy might ask themselves what he would have thought of the idea that our response to hard-working risk-takers so eager for a piece of the American Dream that they endanger life and limb to come here should be a Berlin-style wall of our own.

As commentators from Rush to Rich Lowry have pointed out, the Berlin Wall was built to keep its people in -- to render them prisoners in their own country. The border fence is there to keep people out. And any country that doesn't control its borders will eventually cease to be a country.

It's disappointing that Jacoby doesn't acknowledge this. Has Jeff acquired some fuzzy liberal thinking via osmosis? Could it be time for him to take a Beantown break and recharge his conservative batteries elsewhere?

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net

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