A few weeks ago, Rosita, a Bolivian in her late 40s, told me how on her journey to the United States, she was raped in Guatemala and swindled in Mexico, and how she had to cross the desert into this country after losing a brother who was killed because he refused to pay the “coyote” a larger fee than had originally been agreed. She then went through a health ordeal and was forced to have a hysterectomy in a low-cost clinic that helps immigrants. The operation went horribly wrong and she spent six months fighting for her life. Her two sons are in Bolivia, where she plans to return when she saves enough money to pay her debts. She works 12 hours a day, seven days a week, cleaning houses, doing errands for third parties, and baby-sitting. “In what way am I a criminal?” she asked me.
In what way, indeed?
Though his effort to link conservatism to a pro-immigration policy is somewhat disingenuous, he is otherwise on point. In fact, except for admittedly elite laissez-faire type economists whom the grassroots conservatives would rather disown, the right as historically understood is not at all friendly to immigration. Contrary to popular notions of what constitutes left and right, conservative and liberal in contemporary parlance, the true essence of conservatism sees liberalism as encompassing both the statist and the capitalist/free market forms of modernist universalism, either of which is immigration friendly from the viewpoint of the “organic”, local and traditional. When Llosa points to Burke and Reagan to make his case for conservatism-as-pro-immigration, he is reaching in the former and simply pointing out neo-conservativism in the latter.