Monday, April 10, 2006

Classifying people based on race

Shorter Michelle Malkin: Democrats divide people by race by bringing together multiethnic coalitions to criticize Republican attempts to divide people by race.

Michelle Malkin reports on a sign promoting the Democratic party. She claims the sign was at an "illegal alien demonstration," and that its presence is evidence that "Democrats classify people based upon race."

Now, like Malkin, I wasn't at the rally in Dallas. It seems that she is classifying all the attendees as illegal aliens, presumably because most of them are Latino (which, BTW, is not a race). I have seen pictures from the Philly rally, and it looks like it's hard to classify the people at it by race. It seems unreasonable to assume that the small child with the "No human being is illegal" sign would be an illegal alien. It seems eminently more reasonable (and I know that attributing reason to a conversation about or with Malkin is dubious) to say that this is an important issue, one which brings people together across races, and one that happens to unify a lot of people behind the Democratic party.

As I see it, the immigration debate rests on the fact that our current official policy does not match our actual practice. We "admit" (an act of omission, not commission) many more people than official policy would suggest we intend to. There's no clear evidence that the number of immigrants ought to be lower than it is (or no one seems to be presenting any non-xenophobic arguments to that effect). The question is how to unify policy and practice. Assuming we don't antagonize people or do any specific harm along the way, I don't really care how that's done.

I do care about the xenophobic arguments, and I do care about the harm that results when children and their parents are separated, or when people are thrown in jail for seeking a job in America. The problem that these would solve (that is, the actual change effected) is not clearly a problem, and the actual problem that exists is sufficiently minor that I'd rather Congress spent its time passing a budge, bringing health insurance to more people, or getting a real solution in Iraq. Or any of numerous other nations whose internal problems bear on our internal policy, a list which includes not only human rights in and terrorists from China, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Burma, but economic problems in and economic refugees from Mexico, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic.