It is lucky America has more than two centuries of mostly calm experience with self-government. We are going to need to fall back on that invaluable patrimony if the immigration debate continues as it has started this season. The Senate is attempting to legislate into the teeth of the will of the American public. The Senate Judiciary Committeemen—and probably a majority of the Senate—are convinced that they know that the American people don’t know what is best for them.
National polling data could not be more emphatic—and has been so for decades. Gallup Poll (March 27) finds 80 percent of the public wants the federal government to get tougher on illegal immigration. A Quinnipiac University Poll (March 3) finds 62 percent oppose making it easier for illegals to become citizens (72 percent in that poll don’t even want illegals to be permitted to have driver’s licenses). Time Magazine’s recent poll (Jan. 24-26) found 75 percent favor “major penalties” on employers of illegals, 70 percent believe illegals increase the likelihood of terrorism and 57 percent would use military force at the Mexican-American border.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (March 10-13) found 59 percent opposing a guest-worker proposal, and 71 percent would more likely vote for a congressional candidate who would tighten immigration controls.
An IQ Research poll (March 10) found 92 percent saying that securing the U.S. border should be a top priority of the White House and Congress.
Yet, according to a National Journal survey of Congress, 73 percent of Republican and 77 percent of Democratic congressmen and senators say they would support guest-worker legislation.
I commend to all those presumptuous senators and congressmen the sardonic and wise words of Edmund Burke in his 1792 letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe: “No man will assert seriously, that when people are of a turbulent spirit, the best way to keep them in order is to furnish them with something substantial to complain of.” The senators should remember that they are American senators, not Roman proconsuls. Nor is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee some latter-day Praetor Maximus.
The public demand to protect our borders will triumph sooner or later. And, the more brazen the opposing politicians, the sooner will come the triumph.
So legislate on, you proud and foolish senators—and hasten your political demise.