is one of the issues that has really puzzled me in a certain way that I've been slow to articulate well.
I was pretty oblivious to the fact that there were a lot of people in the country illegally until the issue became really big...whenever that was. Bush administration maybe? At any rate, my reaction was, basically: holy crap! This is huge! How did this happen? People coming into the country illegally seemed to me to be a major problem. I just thought that borders and immigration laws were serious things; there was no doubt in my mind that they were important, and something that we took seriously, and that entering a country illegally was a very serious matter.
Little did I know that my unreflective reaction put me on the right of this issue--even though, back then, I was more of a liberal than I am now. Needless to say, the right can go too far on this...but it was the left's position that I found puzzling and difficult to explain. It took a long time for it to dawn on me that there was a perspective according to which people being in the country illegally is not only not a matter of concern...but concern about the matter is wrong.
That position still seems weird to me, but at least I now recognize it as an alternative way of thinking about all this. As with so many of the positions on the left, it never seems to be articulated clearly--you have to kind of puzzle it out for yourself.
I didn't even realize until pretty late in the game that being here illegally isn't a criminal offense. That was amazing to me. There's some parallel there to the bathroom laws: I half-thought there were already laws about which public restrooms you could use. At any rate, to find out that there are no laws regulating things that you thought were legally regulated, and to find out that people are regularly violating the non-existent laws that you mistakenly thought were existent, and finding out that liberals were basically arguing that no one should be concerned with any of this...and, of course, you're a bigot if you are...it's all really baffling...especially, again, when the positions and the arguments for them are not articulated explicitly. You mostly have to piece it together (...largely on the basis of hypotheses about why the left is calling you a bigot at some particular time... / snark.)
Take the linked story. This would have baffled the hell out of me even a year ago, I think. And I'll bet that it still baffles some people. (And I kinda think maybe it should...but that's a slightly different question.) I mean...here's the synopsis of the story as it tends to strike me:
ICE arrested some illegal immigrants, which is, of course, why we have ICE. They apparently went to neighborhoods which are largely populated by illegal immigrants, and everybody knows that...but...it's wrong to do anything about it. They were only targeting illegals with criminal records. So--though they basically ignored all the other illegals--they inevitably ran into some that they basically couldn't ignore, and arrested them, too. Liberals are worried that other people here illegally might also be arrested for being here illegally, and illegals and activists are mobilizing to fight any further attempts to enforce immigration policy.
Now...anybody with my former perspective on these issues is going to be puzzled as hell about this. It all sounds like: the police decided to go arrest a bunch of people who are breaking the law...and this is a terrible injustice. Liberals and the law-breakers, and activists for the law-breakers, are outraged and mobilizing to fight against any further enforcement of the law. So naturally people with that perspective are going to think WTF? You could make sense of all of this if you added: they view these laws as unjust, and have argued for them to be repealed. But...well, there's the open borders stuff. It's not yet that common to openly advocate it...but without it, it's hard to make sense of any of this.
Of course, instead of explaining their position, the left's response to any expression of disagreement about this is: you are racist.
(And incidentally: I'm sure there is some racism mixed in with all this. But most conservatives and others who are concerned about illegal immigration are more likely to be motivated by views about law and order, and about national sovereignty. These are well-known conservative concerns, and they ought to at least be considered as explanations before you start dropping R-bombs everywhere.)
And I don't think it is entirely unreasonable for conservatives--or anyone--to conclude: there goes the left again. They've adopted a position that doesn't make any sense--not even arguing that, but simply acting as if--it's obvious that, certain indispensable laws should not be enforced...and they've done so simply because the majority of people breaking those laws are non-white.
Anyway...I do have to say that I find the illegal-immigration-is-NBD perspective puzzling to say the least. I'm inclined to think that this perspective has the burden of proof...that is, it's not just an equally reasonable way of looking at things, it's a position that has to be arrived at on the basis of certain theories and arguments...theories and arguments that the left typically does not actually articulate and defend. So one has to suspect that the strategy here is a bit like the strategy in the transgender bathroom debate: pretend this is normal, act shocked when people suggest it isn't, and pretend they're bigots if they fail to acquiesce immediately. This is, among other things, an attempt to shift the burden of proof to the other side. It's also an attempt to avoid the argument entirely by just getting people to acquiesce without argument. Or so it seems to me.
But that could be wrong. Maybe Illegal Immigration is NBD really is a--or even the--natural view. Seems odd to me, but my experience is limited, so can't be generalized from.
I'm still inclined to think that the burden is on IINBD. In part this is because I think it's damned close to an open borders position, and that the U.S. can't survive open borders. And if it isn't an open borders position, is the idea: we can stop you near the border...but if we don't, you're home free? That just doesn't seem even vaguely reasonable to me.
But also: I'd be more sympathetic to IINBD if it were part of a more general move toward a more libertarian, less regulation-prone U.S. But, since IINBD tends to be advocated by the side that tends to favor more regulation, I suspect that it's ad hoc. To make IINBD a natural position, it seems like we'd have to have a lot, lot less regulation, perhaps including e.g. abolition of drivers' licences, regulations on firearms, abolition of minimum wage, minimization of labor laws and that sort of thing. But the left isn't going to advocate those things. Which is what makes their opposition to this type of regulation, which seems an essential part of having a country at all...kinda weird.
On a more cranky and speculative note, I'm a bit skeptical that the left would hold the position that it does if, say, wealthy Dutchmen or Russians were coming into the U.S. illegally in droves to work in the financial sector (and having large families that tended to grow up to vote Republican..). Perhaps conservatives would also have a different view of such a situation...but I suspect that the left would be more likely to change its position on immigration in that case than the right would. But that's a guess, obviously.