It seems you don’t need to be located on the U.S.-Mexico border or have a high-profile case of an illegally present college student — or even to have a Republican majority — for your state legislature to decide something has to be done about immigration. From the Boston Globe:
With one lawmaker citing President Lincoln’s respect for the rule of law, the Massachusetts Senate passed a far-reaching crackdown this afternoon on illegal immigrants and those who would hire them, going further, senators said, than any immigration bill proposed over the past five years.
In a surprising turn of events, the legislation replaced a narrower bill that was passed Wednesday over the objections of Republicans.
The measure, which passed on a 28-10 vote as an amendment to the budget, would bar the state from doing business with any company found to break federal laws barring illegal immigrant hiring. It would also toughen penalties for creating or using fake identification documents, and explicitly deny in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants.
The amendment would also require the state’s public health insurance program to verify residency through the Department of Homeland Security, and would require the state to give legal residents priority for subsidized housing.
The focus on state benefits is an important one. We absolutely need better security on the border. But we also have to face the fact that when we extend any government-provided benefits to illegal immigrants, we are offering people an additional incentive to enter our country illegally. As Milton Friedman once said, “you can have immigration reform, but you can’t have open immigration without largely the elimination of welfare.”
We have to get that part right, along with border security, before we can start debating whether to take such steps as adjusting the number of legal immigrants we accept, or ending the practice of birthright citizenship. And, of course, the thornier issue of what to do with the millions of illegal immigrants already here.