The fundamental reason why serious conservatives oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants to the United States is because (a) we believe in the rule of law, and (b) we understand the threat it poses to our national security. However, it is becoming increasingly rare to hear this commonsensical viewpoint represented by popular conservatives in the media. Rather, “Amnesty will mean the death of the Republican Party!” seems to be the principal argument articulated by anti-amnesty commentators. This talking point, as I will explain, has more to do with white nationalism than it does conservatism.
While the rule of law and national security are central to serious conservative objections to amnesty, white nationalists, by contrast, primarily oppose illegal immigration because most of these immigrants are black and brown people from “Third World” countries. Since most minorities in the United States currently vote Democratic, many anti-amnesty political observers believe that more black and brown immigrants will increase the Democratic vote. Without question, if America ever has a problem of white, Western European people immigrating illegally to the United States in the future, some of the most vociferous critics of illegal immigration would be hypocritically mum on the subject. The problem isn’t that white nationalists don’t like illegal immigration; the problem is that they don’t like where these immigrants are emigrating from—and what the arrival of these immigrants is doing to the ethnic composition of the United States.
When conservatives frame the illegal immigration debate around the Republican Party’s electoral chances being most optimistic with a largely white population—which is at the root of the “Amnesty will mean the death of the GOP!” talking point—they are not only engaging in covert white nationalist argumentation, but they are also arguing a losing position. Those on the right who frame the illegal immigration issue around the GOP’s electoral chances simply come across as hopeless, jejune partisans and lose all credibility when accusing the Democrats of politicizing the issue of illegal immigration.
The problem with the “Amnesty will mean the death of the Republican Party!” talking point is that it says nothing about why, as a matter of principle, amnesty for illegal immigration is a bad idea. Rather, it is more of a statement about the kind of electorate that the anti-amnesty right would rather have. It clearly makes people the problem, as opposed to how the people came. If the illegal immigrants from Latin America came legally, the anti-amnesty, white nationalist crowd would still be unhappy because they aren’t white Western Europeans.
Interestingly, even FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly was honest, albeit despicable, in his assessment of the browning of America on election night 2012. He said, “The white establishment is now the minority,” and then he went on to insultingly suggest that minorities in America are essentially shiftless moochers off hardworking white people, which is why they reelected President Barack Obama and did not vote for Mitt Romney. Bill O’Reilly claims to be pro-amnesty for the children of illegal immigrants, but he reveals his true white nationalist beliefs when he speaks candidly about the ethnic composition of the American population.
It is important to note that O’Reilly was talking about legal immigrants to America in his election analysis, inasmuch as illegal immigrants cannot vote. O’Reilly voiced the concern that many in the white right feel about the current ethnic composition of the country. When those on the right talk about amnesty leading to the end of the Republican Party, they are essentially making the same point that O’Reilly did on Election Night—just in a much more cravenly fashion.
Respect for the rule of law and strong national security are arguments against illegal immigration that all minorities can relate to, inasmuch as central to those arguments is unimpeachable logic—not xenophobia and ethnic hatred. By contrast, when the focus of the argument against illegal immigration is that the GOP is at a political disadvantage without a majority-white population, this is something to which minorities pay attention, and it further repels them from the Republican Party. It’s incredibly pitiful that the Democratic Party—the political party that spawned the Ku Klux Klan—can now thrive in a multi-ethnic country, but the Republican Party—the Party of Lincoln—now needs an exclusively white country to win elections. Something has seriously gone wrong.
The reason why some Republicans claim that amnesty would mark the death of the Republican Party is because they have no plans of appealing to Hispanics to ensure that they become a Republican Party voting bloc for many decades to come. Any suggestion or attempt to appeal to Hispanics with carefully tailored conservative policy arguments is generally scoffed at as an effort at political pandering. Such Republicans—although they will deny it—believe in the concept of ethnic political determinism (the idea that certain ethnic groups are destined to hold certain political affiliations and are largely impervious to alternative political information). The notion that amnesty will mark the death of the GOP misses the point—the Republican Party is already on the road to extinction due to the GOP’s dogmatic refusal to engage minorities with an invigorating conservative message, and Republicans’ ignorant repetition of counterproductive talking points that alienate minority communities.
When Republicans are not repeating the “Amnesty will be the death of the Republican Party!” canard, they are engaging in fallacious argumentation about how illegal immigration damages the American economy, since these immigrants are likely to go on welfare. This is a losing argument because it is simply untrue. There is an economic consensus, including among economists who oppose illegal immigration, that all immigration is salutary to the American economy. Those who solely look at the welfare collected by immigrants, while ignoring any other ways that immigrants could positively affect the economy, are guilty of reasoning like the proverbial bad economist that Henry Hazlitt describes in his book, Economics in One Lesson—that is, they have their sights firmly fixed on welfare, so they are completely blinded to the copious ways immigrants, regardless of immigration status, enhance the American economy by creating more demand for goods and services throughout society. Economic arguments against illegal immigration are, by and large, embarrassing displays of bad economics.
The primary, serious conservative position on illegal immigration is opposing it because it violates the rule of law and imperils America by making the country susceptible to terroristic activity. People have every right to oppose illegal immigration because they would much prefer to live in an America that is largely, if not wholly, inhabited by whites; however, that argument is a white nationalist argument—not a conservative one. They can disguise their true feelings with the benign-sounding catchphrase, “The GOP is over if amnesty is passed!” But minorities know exactly what they mean.
White nationalism is not an ideology that can win in an increasingly diverse America—no matter how carefully it is disguised with the sheep’s clothing of conservatism.