How I became a dissident on the right

I have been a committed conservative since I was in my teens. My politics have been shaped around fundamental conservative values — individual liberty, limited government, free markets, opposition to tyranny, respect for religion, the indispensability of civil institutions, gratitude for America and its blessings. I vote Republican more often than not, but I am no GOP loyalist. My allegiance is not to any party, but to conservative ideals.

One of those ideals has always been the encouragement of immigration as an engine of American progress and prosperity. I grew up in Ohio, a state filled with Americans-by-choice — including my father, who came from Czechoslovakia in 1948. As my conservatism deepened, so did my conviction that an open and welcoming immigration policy was a self-evident part of the conservative creed. In one of my earliest columns for The Boston Globe, a plea to open the door to Haitian refugees, I described immigrants as the great “growth hormone” of American history. “The vast majority of immigrants repay their adopted homeland with energy, enthusiasm, hard work, and new wealth,” I wrote.

I wrote it as a Republican-leaning conservative. Twenty-two years later, my view hasn’t changed. I’m distressed that that of so many Republicans and conservatives has.