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The Ethics of Immigration
By Suruchi Bhutani
Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Victor Davis Hanson addressed
one of the most hotly contested ethical issues in the United
States, illegal immigration, at a recent Ethics at Noon presentation
for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Best known as a
scholar of ancient warfare as well as a commentator on modern
warfare, Hanson is also a fruit farmer and the author of Mexifornia,
a book on the impact of Mexican immigration on the Southwest.
Finally, both political parties, Hanson said, are happy to have illegal immigrants in the country. According to Hanson, Democrats see them as a short-term voting block if they are offered health care and their first impression of America is positive. On the other hand, Republicans see them as social conservatives who will tend to vote for Republican candidates in the long-term.
Hanson went on to discuss increasing polarization on the issue. First, the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants are in direct competition for jobs with economically deprived Americans. Differences in the points of view between the unemployed and low-wage workers on one hand and well-off Americans on the other have caused a lot of controversy. Also, the 9/11 attacks have focused attention on the unprotected border, thus emphasizing the influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico. Last, Hanson mentioned that the 2006 riots in France highlighted the fact that having a significant immigrant and impoverished population can lead to social breakdown.
In conclusion, Hanson said that the solution will require concessions from both opponents and supporters of immigration. Republicans will have to give up deportation as an alternative and Democrats will have to address the issue seriously and be willing to take legal action. Hanson proposed that all immigrants who have been in the United States for less than three to four years should be sent back with a process whereby they can return legally. Those who have been in the United States for longer should be offered some kind of legal residency.
Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian, columnist, political essayist and former classics professor. Hanson writes weekly columns for National Review and Tribune Media Services.
Suruchi Bhutani is a media intern at the Markkula Center
for Applied Ethics.