On Immigration, the National Rifle Association Shows the Way

For reasons I do not understand, some Republicans remain convinced that the House needs to “do something” on immigration. This, despite the fact that stopping illegal immigration polls as the number one issue among Republicans, and public opinion in general is turning decisively away from the Obama administration. So I understand why Democrats hysterically demand that the Republican House “do something”–misery loves company. But why should Republicans fall into that trap?

Conservatives should take a lesson from the success of the pro-gun movement. For decades, pro-gun forces have fought off efforts at various forms of gun control, in large part with a simple response: how about if we enforce the laws that are already on the books? That basic principle resonates with a large majority of voters, not just conservatives. It appeals to common sense: we already have hundreds if not thousands of laws and regulations relating to firearms, many of which are widely ignored. Not to mention the fact that every crime committed with a gun is already a crime. So rather than casting about for new laws to be broken, let’s enforce the laws we already have.

Conservatives can make much the same point on immigration: the first thing we should do is enforce the laws we already have. The truth is that the Democrats don’t want to enforce immigration laws–any immigration laws–but that is hard for them to admit in public. Given that our current laws are widely ignored, with the connivance of the federal government, what is the point of passing new ones? They will just be ignored, too. Until we establish control over our borders and demonstrate that we are in control of immigration into our country, passing new laws is pointless. We have an immigration regime on the books, so let’s start by enforcing it. My guess is that 75% of voters would subscribe to that simple proposition.

When asked what they propose to do about immigration, every Republican’s first response should be: let’s enforce the laws that are already on the books. After all, if we have abandoned the rule of law, what is the point of changing the laws?

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