Ross Douthat accuses critics of Arizona's new immigration law of hyperbole, and I agree with him. It is a bad law, but not as vile or indefensible as many are claiming.

If you don't like what Arizona just did, the answer isn't to scream "fascist!" It's to demand that the federal government do its job, so that we can have the immigration system that both Americans and immigrants deserve.

True, but that system needs to include a conditional amnesty (which Ross seems to frown upon) as well as (a) effective border and inside-the-border enforcement and (b) wider channels for legal migration. These three things have to go together. Something to ask of any law is, "Would you like to see it enforced?" Apprehend and deport more than 10m illegal immigrants? It isn't going to happen, and the government would be mad to try. That is why a conditional amnesty has to be in the mix. Meanwhile the immigration laws will be unenforceable, or at any rate not enforced--and voters will rightly regard the whole regime as a sham.
 
My new column for the FT is on the same subject.

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