The proposed legislation in Arizona has brought forth a flurry of impassioned responses. I don't know much about it, whether it's wise or unfair, whether it will bring great abuses of the rights of citizens or an excellent tool of law enforcement. It's not that I don't care about such things, it's just that I don't know enough and haven't thought enough about it. There are discussions over at Volokh and neo's that are interesting. I haven't checked, but I'll bet Maggie's and Tigerhawk have some, too.
But there is a missing point in the arguments of those who insist on avoiding the "illegal" part of the equation, calling all of them simply immigrants and going on about how we are a nation of immigrants, and quoting isolated Scriptures to the effect that we have obligations and interpreting that to mean rights of citizenship. It is another one of those kindnesses to one person being a cruelty to others. The American economy can indeed absorb a fair number of immigrants every year. If we did not have so many illegals, we could increase the number of legal immigrants from other places. This means that every spot taken by a current illegal - even if they are hardworking, even if they are upstanding, even if they just want a better life and all that - is a place that belongs to some Croatian guy or some nice lady from the Philippines who is never going to get here.
I'm rather partial to Eastern Europeans myself, and deeply resent that more of them can't come. There aren't places, because too many illegals are already sopping up the excess in American society. Those people are invisible, more truly (and literally) marginalised than those that bear the label now. It feels more Christian to show compassion on the person you can see in front of you, but it is a failure of imagination not to recognise the hidden others.
Unintended consequences. Hidden cruelties.