THIS IS NOT THE IDEAL WAY to start a column about illegal immigration, but …
I don’t get what the fuss is all about. My sense is that illegal aliens work hard, perform essential tasks, and benefit the economy. They are exploiting us, and we are exploiting them. Some of them, notably the recently executed Railroad Killer, are bad guys who commit crimes. So are some perfectly legal American citizens. On the whole, the country seemed to have made its peace with the problem back in 1986, when Ronald Reagan signed a bill providing amnesty for aliens who could prove that they had resided in America for at least five years. Or so I thought.
About a year ago, I received a call from a political polling organization. One of the questions was “Which of the following do you think is the most important issue facing Texas?” The usual suspects were on the list: education, taxes, crime, abortion, health care, the environment. So was illegal immigration. I remember being moderately surprised and paid it no further heed. (In case you’re wondering, education was my answer.) The next day I mentioned the call to a Republican consultant and rattled off a few of the issues that I recalled. “Was illegal immigration on the list?” he asked. I said it was. Then he told me that it was the number one issue among the state’s Republican primary voters.
How did this happen?