Patterico's Pontifications


The Illegal Immigration Debate In Hindsight

Filed under: Immigration — Justin Levine @ 5:52 pm

[posted by Justin Levine] 

It is interesting to revisit some of my thoughts on the subject nearly 3 years ago. Perhaps I’m being naive here, but I honestly believe if [Republican] Congressman David Drier had been successfully voted out of office in 2004’s “Political Human Sacrifice“, the Republicans would have gotten the message then, and would not be in the trouble that they are now. Obviously talk radio, blog posts and Time Magazine cover stories were not enough to send the message to Washington on how important this issue has been to many people.

It is also interesting to read the comments from back then to revisit just how controversial the idea was to vote a single Republican out of office in order to send a broader message on immigration. I wonder if people have any second thoughts on this strategy in hindsight after the events of the last week.

Unfortunately, I can’t find any of Hugh Hewitt’s early blog archives from 2004 when he remained a Bush/Drier apologist over the illegal immigration issue. His views since then have become more (ahem)…nuanced. Let me stress that I never want to blame people for having second thoughts and a legitimate change of heart over an issue. I know that I have. Recently though, Hewitt was still blaming the messenger over the immigration issue and writing howlers such as this: “The GOP spent the late summer and fall talking about illegal immigration and running from the fallout of the Mark Foley scandal, only to discover that while the passions on the immigration issue run deep, they don’t run very wide.” (emphasis added.)

Would Hewitt still support this statement after the events of this week? At the very least, I’d like to hear more details on how his thinking has evolved on this issue beyond the purely surface aspects of helping Republicans gain political advantage in Washington.

19 Responses to “The Illegal Immigration Debate In Hindsight”

  1. Hugh Hewitt has no objective other than “helping Republicans gain political advantage in Washington.”

    His Harriet Miers nomination defense was conscienceless.

    steve (096a77)

  2. Hugh Hewitt has no objective other than “helping Republicans gain political advantage in Washington.”

    And the Dems have plans that are any different? Soros ain’t funding MoveOn.Org for nothin’, you know…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  3. I used to listen to Hugh. His unswerving loyalty to the Republican ruling elite is fulsome, and has destroyed his credibility. There is a huge political and philosophical chasm between Reagan and Bush, yet Hugh would try to straddle the divide by climing it doesn’t exist. He is good at the nuance, can’t do the mea culpa, and had better be practicing the splits!

    Bryant Bushling (3b9ffe)

  4. Remember that immigration does not have the same aspect in every part of the country as it does in the Southwest and California. I suspect that in my part of the country, only the guest worker program would be important, because of the implications for tourism and agriculture. But the vast number of immigrants here–and South Florida probable rivals, if it does not beat, Southern California in terms of immigrant presence here–are apparently legal. The typical immigrant, if he or she is not from Cuba or Haiti, is just as likely to be a Jamaican who came here for work, a middle or upper class Venezeulan getting out of Chavezland while they can, a middle class Argentine who came here when Argentina was having its economic meltdown, or a Nicaraguan who came here during the Reagan years because of the Sandinistas. Not to mention the people from India, Nigeria, Israel, Iran, and Russia. (BTW, those examples are all people I have worked with over the last five years at my job.]
    (Notice that the number of them who came here for political reasons.) In fact, the only important execption to this list is Mexicans. (When was the last time you were entertained on your lunch break by a group of Andean Indians playing aboriginal wind instruments?)The illegals who came here by illegally crossing the border exist at the fringes, usually as migrant agricultural workers.
    There’s probably an important number of illegals who overstayed their visas, but I have no data on how big that number is.
    The real immigration issue here is Haitians and Cubans, and the disparity of treatment. (Cubans and only Cubans get the benefit of the wet foot/dry foot treatment.) There are also subsidiary issues involving boat smugglers and the Coast Guard’s limited abilities to patrol and find migrants before they get here.
    (See this link:
    And because of how immigration works here, the bill’s provisions that place work skills ahead of family reunification probably won’t get much support. Beefing up the Coast Guard and equalizing the Haitian/Cuban treatment are the two big immigration issues here. And to guard its traditional constituency, the Cuban vote, the local GOP would probably prefer to expand legal immigration before anything else (considering how many of them are themselves Cuban immigrants.)

    kishnevi (da26af)

  5. More recently, HH supported JohnCampbell over JimGilchrist. Certainly, the latter isn’t perfect, but HH’s support was a bit on the over-obsequious side. Campbell only won because he got more absentee votes; Gilchrist got more on election day.

    Note also that the Dems failed to support their own candidate in the Dreier race because she came out against IllegalImmigration.

    In the current situation, the best way to fight amnesty would be to discredit a well-known supporter of amnesty in general:

    1. Choose a politician who supports amnesty, then go to their public appearances and ask them one or more very tough questions designed to reveal exactly how they’re wrong and forcing them to defend what they support.

    2. Publicize their answers (via Youtube, blogs, forums, press releases, Digg, Reddit, etc. etc.)

    3. Repeat the first two until the politician loses credibility and support.

    Details and sample questions at the link.

    Feel free to take this idea and run with it on Handel’s show.

    Political Human Sacrifice, Part 2 (cc42f6)

  6. Hey, I’ve seen that spaceless writing before somewhere. Can’t remember where, though.

    And.. I used to love Hewitt’s show when I had a commute. But he is a bit of a partisan hack and his online presence sadly lacks the random humor that made (makes?) the show fun.

    David N. Scott (71e316)

  7. PHS2–the flaw in your plan is assuming a politician will give a straight answer. And also that most people will see the flaw in their answer, if they actually give one.

    kishnevi (da26af)

  8. It’s possible to craft questions that even politicians will be forced to either a) answer, or b) be obviously in avoiding answering. I believe the ones at the link qualify, but feel free to provide additional ones.

    If they answer as I want, fine: case closed. If they avoid answering, then we keep answering, and we point out that they failed to answer. If they lie, then we point out that they lied, feeling free to call them liars.

    More questions and examples of lies being pointed out here:

    PHS2! (cc42f6)

  9. I don’t know what Hewitt shows y’all have been listening to, but HH eviscerated Tony Snow on Friday. He spent the weekend shredding the bill, and on Monday continued to trash the GOP leadership as being utterly blind and deaf to the needs of the country.

    His bottom line, or “nuance” if you prefer, is to easily regularize those millions who are here since it will be impractical as hell attempting to physically evict them. He is absolutely adamant, however, that we shut down and control the entirety of our borders. He is well convinced he can no longer trust W and Chertoff to build the prior authorized fencing and HH insists that hundreds of lies of double fencing be in place before the first illegal obtains any visa whatever.

    Jon and Ken he ain’t, though. Thank God.

    Ed (079938)

  10. I suspect what is really animating Hewitt today is the prospect of using immigration in general, and the ill-concieved “no debate is necessary” stance taken by McCain in specific, as a large club with which to pound upon McCain’s Presidential bid.

    And I dont blame him. McCain’s willingness to sell out principle for the appearance of bipartisanship is a bigger, and much more dangereous flaw than either Rudy’s abortion/marital issues and Mitt’s Mrmanism. How hard to the mats would McCain go to get a strict constructionist SCNominee past Leahy’s committee? Or fighting off a new “fairness doctrine?”

    bains (87875e)

  11. Hugh Hewitt has carried far too much water for Bush the past three years or so but he does good interviews and I listen to him when I am in the car. He was dead wrong on immigration but Gilchrist destroyed his own candidacy with lack of any knowledge outside immigration. I agree Campbell is a hack. One problem has always been that smart Republicans don’t go into politics at the state and even Congressional levels. We just don’t have a good farm team. Chris Cox was an exception but I blame him for not going for the Senate when Boxer was vulnerable. Maybe the internal pools were bad but we should have been able to get rid of her.

    Hewitt, however, is a stalwart compared to Michael Medved who has never seen a Mexican he didn’t want to give amnesty to. I have finally stopped listening to Medved even if I have to listen to Sean Hannity.

    Mike K (8d9bdc)

  12. Hugh is a partisan hack – always has been, always will be. He is not a conservative in principal – he always abandons any conservative principal the minute the GOP asks him to.

    He’s a smart and successful guy, but all he is really is a party guy, not a conservative. He uses conservatives for his meal ticket, and sells them out whenever the party needs him to.

    In short, he’s a hack.

    Great Banana (aa0c92)

  13. Here’s an interesting story: Grand Jury Recommends Immigration Checks.

    For those of you familiar with the criminal justice system, are the police chiefs waffling because of political correctness, or is this really a duplication of effort?

    Patricia (824fa1)

  14. Patricia:
    I think this is grass-roots pressure on the (political) Police Chiefs to get them off the dime, and to start reporting the Illegals they pick up to the INS for deportation.

    They have studiously ignored all of the Letters-to-the-Editor in the various papers because the various City Managers are absolutely afraid of this issue (see: Special Order 40 – and in most of our cities the Chiefs work for the City Manager). But, when the County Grand Jury says something has to be done, all of a sudden those in power start to pay attention.

    As has been noted here by our gracious and highly informed host, over IIRC 34,000 illegals process through the L.A.County jail system each year. Why are these people still in this country? Why hasn’t the Fed. Gov’t. invested the neccessary resources to track down and deport the 600,000 that have deportation orders issued against them?

    When is this farce going to end?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  15. Before we get all wrapped int his debate please view this lecture. It puts it the immigration debate in a very objective light. I’m sure you understand why amnesty/immigration is a fools game after watching this.

    paul from fl (ae01cb)

  16. Oh, and by the way the numbers that Beck talks about….they’re LEGAL immigrants…

    paul from fl (ae01cb)

  17. My guess is that it finally dawned on him that these would be nearly all Democratic voters, regardless of who was responsible for their Amnesty/Citizenship.

    Enough voters to flip key states which barely went Republican the last time.

    jpm100 (a99bf7)

  18. I am a Republican of long standing in Drier’s district, but I voted against him in 2004 and 2006. I also emailed his office several times, mostly on immigration, and got back regurgitated BS.

    Drier has been in office for over 22 years now, and thinks he owns it. I don’t perceive him as having any interest in serving the best interests of his constituents.

    To say that I am disgusted with him is a great understatement. And I am far from alone.

    GaryS (0e3040)

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