I think this issue is an important one. Here’s an edited version of my response:
First, he called me on referring to it as “immigration. As he rightly pointed out the controversy was over illegal immigration, not immigration per se. Big difference.
But he was also under the misapprehension that McCain was for amnesty. He is not.
From the YouTube Republican debate:
“Q: Will you pledge to veto any immigration bill that involves amnesty?
McCain: Yes, of course, and we never proposed amnesty.”
McCain’s plan includes “fines, would require back in the line, would require deportation for some.” That’s no amnesty, by normal definition. It is just not as tough on illegal immigrants as most others in the GOP want to be.
But I think, with McCain, that more than this is inhumane, bad for the US economy, and plain unrealistic. It’s no small thing to deport 12 million people. That would involve one of the bigger refugee problems in history.
And, as I noted, any liberal in the true Clear Grit sense (as opposed to what passes as "liberal" in North America today) should favour immigration. Allowing immigration is a matter of fundamental human freedoms--freedom of movement and the right to work.
If you say—as we all are accustomed these days to do—that only Americans have a right to move to and to work in the US, we are making a distinction between American rights and human rights. But do only American citizens have the right to work? If so, either this is no human right, or you do not hold Mexicans to be human.
We are all brothers and sisters; we are all God’s children. Yes, those who commit a crime waive rights. But in moral principle, the border should be completely open. To close it is already sinful. And, at least in conventional Catholic morality, a poor man has the absolute right to do what he must do, even including theft, in order to sustain himself.
My friend is under the misapprehension that “illegals” (sic) “have depressed wages” and are “preventing US citizens from making a living wage.”
I don’t buy that. I sincerely doubt there are many employed American citizens earning less than a “living wage”—i.e., not enough to physically survive. Less than they’d like to, perhaps. I hope I’m not being callous here, but with due respect, a whole lot of people in the Third World manage to live on less than even welfare pays in the US. Why, indeed, would a Mexican want to come all the way to the US to work, if the money he made was not enough to live on? Surely it is, for him.
But let’s also not suppose that nativists on this score are really acting in the best interests of American workers, as opposed to specific vested interests. Realistically, if foreign workers will do the same job as Americans for less money, you have two choices: 1. allow the workers into the US, or 2. watch the factories move out of the US. The former is far better for the US economy and for the US working man. It will produce more jobs, and better-paying jobs, for everyone.
It is, indeed, exactly how the US grew to this point. It is the American way.
All of this applies equally well, of course, to Canada.