POST-PATRIOTIC PROGRESSIVES AND...

POST-PATRIOTIC PROGRESSIVES AND THE PUNDITS WHO LOVE THEM. I found this post of Michael Lind's, supposedly lampooning post-patriotic progressives who believe nation-states outmoded and all men to be brothers, notably absurd. Lind's a sharp mind and a good writer, so it's strange to see him swing and miss so widely. The question in the immigration debate is not one of globalization but one of tradeoffs: Should we help tens of millions of desperate immigrants pull themselves and their families from third-world levels of poverty at a cost of -- and this is the high estimate -- eight percent wage depression for native high school dropouts? Cruelty, thy name is McCain-Kennedy!

It is, of course, straight pretense to pretend the issue is a simple tradeoff between the advancement of citizens and the betterment of immigrants. If you somehow did staunch the flow of immigrants and deport the undocumented, you would destroy a hefty chunk of the remittances that currently help keep Mexico stable, in addition to worsening their labor glut and unemployment rates. Come an economic downturn, Mexico is more likely to crash, and if our second-largest trading partner takes a nosedive, you better believe America's readying to belly-flop, which is never a good thing for our low-skilled workers.

As for the enforcement crowd, Lind paints them as brave defenders of the national interest, beset on all sides by googly-eyed one-worlders wrapped in hemp and waxing rhapsodic over the brotherhood of all beings. How cold-eyed and realistic of him! But before you swoon, remember: enforcement has been massively increased over the past few decades and has proved an embarrassing failure, leading to nothing but perverse consequences and broken families. I'm all for policing the border and rationalizing the inflow -- not least because it'd lead to fewer immigrants perishing in the desert heat -- but we've been doing that and it hasn't worked. At a certain point, results should supersede biases, and a hard-edged insistence on enforcement and punishment just places you shoulder-to-shoulder with the xenophobes and racists advocating the criminalization of aid workers. I happen to prefer the company of those sympathetic to poor immigrants desperate to do backbreaking labor in search of a better life. That doesn't make me a post-patriotic progressive, it makes me a post-nativistic one.

--Ezra Klein

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