Into the mind of … Clint Bolick

The Arizona Republic editorial page

The Goldwater Institute attorney talks about his plan to team with former Gov. Jeb Bush on a book on immigration reform, a project represented by Rose Law Group

How did you get involved with this book project?

Having represented immigrants in many of my cases over the years — defending school-choice programs and challenging barriers to enterprise — I’ve developed a strong interest in immigration policy. Then, at a forum, I saw Jeb Bush make some comments on immigration, and the thought occurred to me that together, we might be able to constructively influence the debate. I pitched the idea to him, and, happily, it was a “go.” Apart from education, I don’t think there’s an issue he’s more passionate about.

What are the key areas in which you agree with him on immigration reform?

We strongly agree on the principal themes: that immigration is essential to American identity and prosperity, and that immigration needs to be bounded by the rule of law.

What is the best economic argument for a labor pipeline from Latin America?

The two best arguments are that a legal pipeline helps eliminate the illegal pipeline, and that we need young workers from foreign countries to help reverse our shrinking population and prevent the calamity of crushing social-welfare costs supported by too few workers.

Some Republicans argue that cheap labor from Latin America suppresses U.S. wages. Why don’t you buy that argument?

It appears to have a slight negative impact on wages for people without a high-school degree, but overall, it helps grow the economy. Since clamping down on immigration, Alabama is estimated to have lost billions of dollars annually in its gross domestic product.

Did Arizona Republican leadership err in the way they approached illegal immigration? How so?

Arizona responded to a serious border crisis with measures not designed to secure the border. The party has not reached out to Hispanic voters on areas of common cause: free enterprise, educational choice, social values. Most Hispanics support immigration enforcement, but if that’s the only issue they hear about, and if they see Hispanics being rounded up for traffic violations, they understandably will doubt Republican motives.

A lot of Republicans have taken the default position of “secure the border first.” Do you agree with that, and is it achievable?

An enforcement-only strategy is doomed to failure. If we lock the front door, people will sneak in the back. We have to fix an immigration system that is badly broken.

What happens to the Republican Party if it continues to turn off Latino voters?

Just look at the California GOP to see the future of the national GOP if it does not expand its message and its base. Within the past decade, Republicans were attracting 40 percent of the Hispanic vote; Mitt Romney will be lucky to get 25 percent. That difference may be the margin of defeat.

Were you at all troubled by the largely White audience at the Republican National Convention?

On the one hand, the party is growing increasingly insular. On the other, there are more high-ranking Republican Hispanic elected officials than Democrats. There is a huge opportunity for Republicans, if they acquire a carpe diem approach.


No ‘dreamer’ driver’s licenses in Arizona/The Arizona Republic

Tucson ‘Dreamer’ among first to receive work permit/Arizona Daily Star

First arrest made under ‘show me your papers’ provision/KTAR

Ariz. immigration law critics protest in Phoenix/AP

Arpaio: ICE refuses to pick up illegal immigrants/AP

Demand for GEDs surges due to two-year deferral for illegal immigrants/Cronkite News

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September 2012