Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Think Tank a Thinkin?

[Immigration] Utah's beloved conservative think tank the Sutherland institute has recently released in honor of Cinco de Mayo, an essay on the think tank's vision of immigration reform. The result...surprisingly...a breath of fresh air on the topic.

"As conservatives we view this issue morally as much as we view it socially, culturally and economically," writes Sutherland President Paul Mero in the preface of the essay. "It is not a policy abstraction or objectification, we are talking about real people not unlike every Utahn."

Striking a chord of compassion (?!) Mero outlines that Utah ought to seek a federal waiver to address immigration issues on its own. Like crafting its own guest-worker program so that individuals work and reside in Utah legally. Thus taking the wind out of the "rule of law" anti-immigration argument.

The essay goes on to articulate that a classic conservative approach would emphasize open immigration: "authentic conservatives are clearly pointed in the direction of conserving the principle of open immigration," Mero writes.

Elaborating on the problem of an overly zealous "secure the borders first" type of rationale the essay says: "Our current concern is of justice and fairness. We just don't like people "cheating" our system. Again lets be perfectly clear. In an environment of open immigration, there are no such people as "cheaters." Restrictive and closed immigration policies create cheaters."

(...Damn...am I nodding my head while I read this essay?)

This report and its recommendations will come as something for the legislative Immigration task force to truly chew on. My initial concern was that petitioning for a federal waiver might embolden an "enforcement-first policy" that the essay argues against, to act under the same carte blanche. But you have to at least give props to the Sutherland folks for making the case that immigration is not a problem that can be fixed by bigger fences alone. (Eric S. Peterson)


  1. I'm no fan of the Sutherland Institute, but I am a fan of giving credit where it's due. Let's hope this is the beginning of some rational thought from these guys.

  2. I was blown away by this essay. The point which most fascinated me was that rather than simply offering the standard libertarian line about open borders, etc. etc., it actually made an appeal for a coordinated effort at assimilation. This even seemed to suggest the application of public resources to ensure assimilation, while admittedly the emphasis was on charity and civil society shouldering the bulk of the work. Is there common ground here for libertarians and conservative communitarians?

  3. Looks like someone finally got through to the 'think tank' that getting rid of entry and low level employees hurts businesses and the economy. Glad to see it is couched in humanitarian ideals but the reality is the business people of the Republican party always cringe when illegal immigration becomes a topic. They know it will hurt them the most.


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