I stole that phrase ("wide gates and high walls") from Jonah Goldberg who stole it from one of his readers. It perfectly sums up the way I feel about immigration. I think our current laws (not the ones that are being ignored, but the ones that immigrants must follow in order to be here legally) need revising. I think many more people should be allowed to come here and that the process for handling legal immigration should be streamlined. That's the "wide gates" part.
As far as "high walls" goes--I think it's imperative that we decide (and that we know) who gets to come here and who doesn't. A nation must have control over its borders.
I think Charles Krauthammer has it right on this issue. Build a wall. Show us that the government is serious about keeping out illegal immigrants. If you do that, then we can talk about some sort of amnesty for those who have been here for years, including children who have known no other country as home but are still "illegals." The problem with amnesty before enforcement is that we've done that before. When Reagan offered amnesty to illegals it was going to be "the last time." And now here we are again in an even worse situation than when he was in office. If we offer amnesty without controlling the border, folks know that all they have to do is sneak over and then wait in the shadows for the next amnesty to roll around.
All the hue and cry over Arizona's law is ridiculous. Folks down there live with problems that the rest of us have only read about. When 70% of a state's population is behind a law like this, well, you can be pretty sure they're dealing with extreme circumstances. Who are we to tell them they have to live this way--at the mercy of an apathetic federal government that will not enforce its own laws?
There has been a lot of high-profile yapping about the Arizona law. San Francisco has banned imports of goods from the state (um...okay...THAT'll show them). The Major League Baseball Players Association has made veiled threatening harumphing sounds (no more spring training in AZ?). The "Boycott Arizona Iced Tea" movement got some momentum behind it until folks pointed out that the tea is bottled in New York.
My first response to this is to ask San Francisco how much stuff they buy from China, where folks are actually, you know, oppressed. My second response, though, is that all of the noise is coming from small groups and from groups with limited power to actually DO anything. I think the law will, on balance, bring more business to Arizona because there are lots of folks (who don't have PR departments and don't issue press releases) who feel some sympathy for the people of Arizona who are living under extraordinary circumstances and paying for services for folks who ignored our laws in their very first act on American soil.