The Wall Street Journal is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox. While both news organs propagate Murdoch’s conservative politics, they do so very differently. The WSJ is the news outlet for respectable conservatives, those who are still tethered, if precariously, to the reality-based universe of data, research and facts.
That’s not to say the WSJ’s editorial page is above intellectual dishonesty. It is not. It has strained mightily to prove something which is false: that tax cuts alone can create enough jobs to spur federal revenues and tame the deficit. And its opinionators plays all sorts of other intellectually shady games in order to support establishment Republican views.
Nevertheless, it was surprising that the WSJ came out last week in favor of the Dream Act, which would put young adults here illegally on a path to citizenship if they serve in the military or complete two years of college. The writer’s preamble included the requisite Democrat-bashing before getting to the main point:
Restrictionists dismiss the Dream Act as an amnesty that rewards people who entered the country illegally. But the bill targets individuals brought here by their parents as children. What is to be gained by holding otherwise law-abiding young people, who had no say in coming to this country, responsible for the illegal actions of others? The Dream Act also makes legal status contingent on school achievement and military service, the type of behavior that ought to be encouraged and rewarded.
We’d prefer that border reform start by expanding legal channels of entry for people who come here to work. There would be little need for a Dream Act if more U.S. work visas had been available for the parents of these children. The U.S. focus on border security has, along with the economic downturn, had some effect on reducing illegal entries. But walls, fences and employer crackdowns mainly produce thriving markets in human smuggling and document fraud and make a mockery of the rule of law, especially in some border areas.
Of course, the WSJ is well aware of the growing power of the Latino vote:
Supporting the Dream Act also makes political sense for Republicans, who will have a tough time winning national elections without more Hispanic support. Polls show that Hispanic-American priorities tend to match those of other voters—the economy, jobs, education and so forth. Nevertheless, immigration has symbolic importance among Hispanics as a sign of political recognition and respect.
If Republicans hope to limit President Obama to one term, they’ll need to win in Mountain West states—Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico—with fast-growing Hispanic populations. The Dream Act is an opportunity for the GOP to send a welcoming signal to these voters. More important, it would do right by undocumented youths who did nothing to deserve their current vulnerability to deportation.
It will be interesting to see whether the WSJ’s endorsement carries any weight with Republicans next year, when they take over leadership of the House and gain power in the Senate. Of course, tea partiers might well argue that the newspaper represents the same old tired GOP establishment they’ve been fighting. We’ll see.