As is usual when I make an immigration post (wherein I am supportive of open immigration and suspicious of gung-ho enforcement efforts) I got mail saying that the real concern here is the rule of law. People inevitably want to inform me that this immigration is ILLEGAL (usually in caps) and that these immigrants are BREAKING THE LAW and that the law cannot be enforced unevenly.
First, I am happy to listen to this argument from any commenter who has never broken the speed limit or done a rolling stop at a stop sign.
Second, I would like to offer the rule of law folks, especially those on the right side of the aisle, a thought problem: Soon, it will be illegal to not purchase a health insurance policy that meets specifications set by Congress. It is anticipated, however, given relatively low fines, that many people will break this law and not obtain health insurance. This failure will be ILLEGAL. These people will be criminals. Do those of you who seek higher penalties, more robust enforcement, police sweeps, and reduced standards of probable cause for people committing the crime of illegal immigration also plan to seek the same higher penalties for lawbreakers who do not buy an insurance policy? After all, as you have said, this is not about the law itself but respect for the rule of law.
By your immigration logic, we should be ruthless about lawbreakers who do not have the right insurance policy. We should encourage the Minutemen to patrol for people without health insurance -- after all, they have said that their concern is with people breaking the law, not immigration or Mexicans per se. There should be sweeps where people can be arrested for suspicion of not having health insurance, just as they can be arrested under our new AZ law for suspicion that they do not have a green card.
If there is a difference, please explain it to me. I understand that you may be opposed to open immigration or high immigration rates or immigration by poor uneducated people or whatever. If so, fine, we disagree -- but stop saying that this is all about the rule of law, or telling me we can't pick and choose what laws we violate. Because we do the latter all the time. Our willingness to challenge the state is a large part of American exceptionalism.
PS- Just to avoid misunderstandings from trolls who do not usually read this site, of course I do not advocate the above for health insurance violations. Just as I don't for Mexicans seeking a better life in this country without obtaining a license to do so from the government.
Disclosure: I have several good friends who are illegal immigrants. They are wonderful, hard-working people who have been in this country for years. If we were to conduct tests of people's acceptability to be present in this country, they would pass with scores far ahead of many US citizens.
Update: I find the argument that open immigration and an overly-generous welfare state can't coexist to be moderately compelling, though I don't see why we could tie citizenship narrowly to receiving these benefits. I have problems saying that a government license in the form of a green card is required for mere presence in the country. I have no problem imposing this licensing requirement for receipt of unearned goodies.