David Frum

05.10.13

The Immigration Argument We Need

At The American Conservative, Jim Antle writes Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, the first southern black woman elected to Congress. As he recalls, she was a vocal advocate for more moderate levels of immigration:

Since then, the country has been plagued by the notion that racism is the only possible motivation for reducing immigration or enforcing immigration laws. There were once courageous liberals like Jordan and to a lesser extent Theodore Hesburgh to whom it was impossible to ascribe such motives who were willing to argue otherwise.

Jordan observed that “it is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest,” which includes the interests of citizens of every race, and naturalized citizens as well as natives and the “nativists” supposedly advocating on their behalf. The shift from Jordan to Joe Arpaio as the public face of immigration enforcement made a more nuanced restrictionist case even more difficult to make. ...

But nothing could challenge the conventional wisdom more than the reminding Americans that one could march against Jim Crow and advocate more moderate levels of immigration. A figure who could compellingly make that case is sadly missing from our national politics.