There will be much more to say later as it plays out in Congressional deliberation and the election campaigns, but for now President Bush deserves credit for putting into play the thorny problem of illegal immigration. There is much not to like about his proposal, but what better time to debate it than during an election year? It seems to me that this issue as much as any presents a convergence of often conflicting American passions—our compassion for the underdog, our heritage as an immigrant nation, our free market idealism, and our commitment to the rule of law. I would like to believe that we will resolve it with due respect for all these instincts, but I know that some parts of all of them will suffer. I am not a “restrictionist” as that term has been defined, but I come down on the side of those who believe that we will not solve this problem without first committing to a policy of restoring the value of citizenship and strictly controlling our borders, while requiring assimilation to this culture by those we choose to admit.
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