Both Noah and Allahpundit have been talking about this entire Scott Walker immigration flap, but the media meltdown doesn’t seem to be justified in this case. Or perhaps it’s just aiming in the wrong direction. As far as Noah’s post goes, I’m not going to come here and argue that Walker has handled this issue well at his various stops on the campaign trail. Depending on how you parse his comments and where he was at the time he made them you can clearly make the case that he’s taken virtually every position possible on the subject. (Of course, he did the same thing on ethanol, so…)
AP brought up the point that it’s not exactly extreme thinking to suggest that limits on immigration numbers – even lower limits than we currently allow – are a bad thing. Granted, the poll numbers show that it’s probably not a majority opinion, but if I start parsing all of my opinions based on whether or not I was in the majority I should probably give up this job and just run for office.
But for the moment, I’d like to circle back to a couple of points raised in the article by Ramesh Ponnuru which Allahpundit brought up. He notes that Scott Walker and his team have not been “crystal clear” on the subject of immigration, (which is putting it mildly if you ask me) but also places some of the blame on the shoulders of the media.
2) Before writing that Walker “supports limits on legal immigration,” try to think of a politician who doesn’t.
This should be a given. Even if you are a Democrat who privately would like to see the borders thrown open and let absolutely everyone in who wishes to come, you’re never going to say that in public. Saying that Walker supports that idea is essentially the same as saying that he’d like to win another election. Without some numbers attached, this is neither controversial nor surprising.
3) “Anti-immigration” and ”against legal immigration” are not neutral descriptions of the view that legal immigration levels should be lower.
I’m not sure why we’re wasting time on the first one, really. The phrase “anti-immigration” has been hurled at me more times than I can count, but it’s the language of the Left and the biased media. (But I repeat myself yet again.) I suppose there are folks who are technically anti-immigration and simply want the entire country sealed up, but I don’t know any personally. Similarly, the phrase, “against legal immigration” carries the same implication without actually saying anything.
While I’m still not sure where Walker stands – and won’t be until he figures out how to sort his message – I can tell you that I support lower levels of legal immigration and a more refined method of organizing the process. And just for the record, I don’t apologize for it or dance around the definitions to spare anyone’s feelings. This is a significant matter of public policy which all citizens of the United States should have the right to weigh in on. (Noticing a pattern here yet?)
Let’s start from the question of whether or not immigration is needed. I have a short answer for that one: in terms of human beings as a natural resource, we’ve got plenty. We’re not going to run out any time soon. And in theory, I think we could get by without one new naturalized citizen for a very long time if we had to. I believe that every open job represents a vacuum in the “free market of talent” and the free market hates a vacuum. If there’s a chance to find success by filling a niche, America can produce somebody to fill it.
With that said, it’s not as if we can’t make room for some new blood in the system, but there are limits. Adding too many new folks before meeting the needs of those already here legally is simply bad policy. And if you’re going to mix some new spices into the stew pot, why does the process need to be some sort of random, first come first served plan? We already have limits on immigration based on the country of origin which limits any given nation to 7% of the total. But isn’t it worth the time to debate whether or not we could be channeling the flow much better than we do now? Why not larger limits for countries which are solid allies of ours and trimming down the rest? Sure, that sounds like I’m being the Ugly American, but so be it.
In closing, if you want to beat up Scott Walker for giving mixed signals and leaving you wondering where he stands on the subject, feel free. I’m not that impressed with the campaign communications office at the moment myself. But if we’re going to have a debate over the candidates and their “anti-immigration” positions, let’s make sure we understand the terms we’re using and what the presidential hopefuls are actually proposing. And while we’re at it, let’s suggest some proposals to them ourselves.