Even when there's no racism involved, it's common to hear discussions of illegal immigration that make conservatives seem clueless and insensitive.
Although I've always urged lawmakers to increase the number of people permitted to immigrate into the U.S. legally, I used to be a lot more sympathetic to the position of restrictionists. I felt that while I might prefer for America to welcome more newcomers, my fellow citizens felt differently, and fairness demanded that laws duly enacted by Congress be enforced.
Even today, I am inclined to listen respectfully to "rule of law" arguments. I also fear a radicalizing effect if restrictionists conclude that they have no incentive to work within the political system. But I've been persuaded by deeper reading into history that the restrictionist position is less just than I once imagined. I acknowledge that large-scale immigration benefits some Americans while it hurts others (people without high-school degrees especially). What I glean from the past is that bygone waves of immigration disrupted the lives of the people already here far more drastically and imposed costs far more extreme than anything seen today. Undoubtedly, my Scotch, German, and French Cajun relatives imposed costs on natural-born citizens when they first immigrated. As the beneficiary of that transaction, who am I to keep a Thai, Mexican, or South African family out, even if their presence does force the school where my kid goes to grapple with another language or adds another car or two to the freeways?