The Other Border

The innumerable Santorums
Update:  Mark Oppenheimer talks about the large families of the Republican candidates in today's New York Times.  It's more amazing than I realized.  Santorum: 7,  Huntsman: 7, Bachman: 5, Romney: 5, Paul: 5


Irony alert. There's something very odd about the fact that Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are so passionate about stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into this country.  In the last debate they both attacked Newt "let's have an open marriage" Gingrich, who thinks we shouldn't deport people who have been in this country illegally for 25 years.  After all, says Gingrich, these folks have ties to family and community. It would be cruel and un-Christian to send them home.  No, no, no, Romney and Santorum say, we've got to make the miscreants go home and get at the end of the line.   Build a fence, keep 'em out, blah blah blah.

You can see from the pictures where I'm going with this.  Mitt Romney has 5 children and a zillion grandchildren.  Rick Santorum has 7 eight children.  They don't hesitate a bit about bringing more people into this country, as long as the border is between non-existence and existence! It's a little odd, then, that they're so desperately concerned about already existing people crossing the border between Mexico and the US.  Take the movie Children of Men. There you've got rules against immigration into the UK, but rules against having children too.  Combining those concerns makes sense.  But having concerns about immigration and not about procreation needs to be explained. 

The innumerable Romneys
It might very well be that R&S are worried about Mexican people entering the US. Their own white offspring are no problem, no matter how numerous they are.  I suppose that's uncharitable though, so I'll move right along to theory #2.  That's the theory that their worry is not about the US population growing too fast (that can't be it--look at the pictures!), but rather it's about sheer law-breaking.  Illegal immigrants break our immigration laws, so they deserve no mercy, no clemency.  For that reasoning, R&S  do not deserve high marks.

Some laws prohibit inherently bad behavior. It's critical not to break the law against killing your neighbor. But some laws are essentially arbitrary, even if practically necessary. There's nothing inherently wrong with crossing the US-Mexico border. It's completely a question of luck which side you were born on, and where the line is drawn in the first place.  It makes sense that we have immigration laws, but how could it be an extremely grave offense to break these laws?  When you consider that people break them for respectable reasons--to escape poverty, to give their children a much better life--that's got to temper your judgment even further.

If R&S are just concerned about law-breaking, not US over-population--and that must be the case, given their large families--they're too concerned.  Deporting people who have lived here for 25 years is cruel and unusual punishment, considering that they stepped across an arbitrarily drawn line for a perfectly good reason.  If, on the other hand, they are worried about pressure on US services and resources, then what's with their big families?


Aeolus said...

A thought-provoking post! I tend to agree with you. But devil's advocate here: Unlike your children, the illegal immigrants are uninvited strangers in your house. It's not mainly about either law-breaking or total population; it's about strangers barging in and camping in your living room. The fact that they like your furnishings better than those in their own house is surely no justification for their being allowed to stay.

Jean Kazez said...

Hmm, but Santorum is against birth control. So it's open borders, when it comes to the land of the non-existent! Let 'em all in, he thinks. Is that really entirely because they're relatives and not strangers? But wait, he wants open borders for other people's non-existent children too. He thinks contraception is bad for all, not just bad for him. So--it's open borders for his relatives and for strangers, as long as they don't exist yet! I think what must really be going on is that there are laws about Mexicans crossing the border into the US, but not about non-existent people crossing into the US by means of reproduction. Actually, the anti-immigrant thing probably works on a more primitive level than that. As in "This is OUR country to fill will tons and tons of little Americans." It's all about possessiveness and resentment.