"Low-Immigration, Pro-Immigrant" versus the Law of Return
By Bryan Caplan
“Low-Immigration, Pro-Immigrant.” So reads the masthead of the Center for Immigration Studies. I’m still trying to make sense of it. If someone announced a “low-in-law visits, pro-in-law stance,” we’d laugh. If you like your in-laws, you’ll welcome frequent visits. If you like immigrants, you’ll welcome immigration. You could say, “We want to limit the quantity so we can savor each and every immigrant,” but I doubt you could say it with a straight face.
Not convinced? Imagine a group with the slogan, “No-Immigration, Pro-Immigrant.”
But can’t you hate the sin but love the sinner? You can claim to, but actually feeling this way is almost psychologically impossible. If you hate what someone habitually does, you’re going to dislike them for doing it. In any case, part and parcel of the “hate the sin, love the sinner” ethos is the idea that the sinner could live a fulfilling life without sinning. For many immigrants, sadly, immigration is their only realistic path to a decent life. If you oppose the immigration of such people, their well-being is not a high priority for you.
To see the full absurdity of the Center for Immigration Studies’ masthead, contemplate Israel’s Law of Return. The law is simple: If you’re Jewish, you can move to Israel. The same holds if you have a Jewish parent, a Jewish grandparent, or a Jewish spouse. The more the merrier.
When you hear about this policy, what do you infer? That Israel is really, truly, actually, pro-Jew. The less you support a policy akin to the Law of Return for group X, the less pro-X you are. If your mission is lobbying for the approximate opposite of the Law of Return for group X, you are anti-X.
Update: The first line (though not the title) originally had the typo “Low-Immigrant, Pro-Immigrant.” Sorry for any confusion.