For a while there back in the 1980s and '90s, political semantics started to get pretty confusing, what with the simultaneous ascendancy of "neoconservativism" and "neoliberalism," each of which ideology, head-spinningly, tended to cluster in the same political party and, often, in the same political person. The Reagan Administration championed both ideologies, even while much of the Republican Party's withering traditional "paleoconservative" base recoiled against the "neo" part of the infant conservative intelligentsia that was busily taking the reins of the party and charting the path to world domination. George H.W. Bush embraced neoliberalism (as in NAFTA), while rejecting neoconservatism (as demonstrated in his Persian Gulf War I multilateralism). Bill Clinton, a neoliberal par excellence (as in NAFTA, the WTO and Welfare "Reform"), was anything but a neoconservative. Pat Buchanan, consummately anti-everything, was neither, Bill Kristol was both, George W. Bush as Governor of Texas was neolib but not neocon, George W. as Republican Presidential nominee was both neolib and neocon, as first term President just neocon and not quite neolib (steel tariffs), and now, in his second term, if you listen to his neoconservative right-wing detractors, may be neither. Consider also neoliberalism's pedigree of traditional conservative philosophers and neoconservatism's origins in Trotskyist Revolutionary Socialism, and what you're looking at is pretty much a total political and taxonomical clusterfuck.
Thankfully, the immigration debate is starting to separate out the wheat from the chaff, at least within the Republican Party, and not just because it's pitting business conservatives against nationalist conservatives. It's also throwing into sharp relief the profoundly conflicting worldviews that characterize the modern Republican coalition. If ever there were a conservative "wedge issue," this is it.
If John Locke, founding father of liberalism, were to witness the hysteria of so many Orange County Minuteman sympathizers, he'd have a very hard time understanding how his ideological inheritors ended up in bed with this set. Man naturally toils, Locke believed, and naturally exchanges the fruit of his toil. From this natural social enterprise emerges the market, the only inevitable and spontaneous product of human culture there is. Following the emergence of the market, in the effort to keep it running smoothly, the inescapable necessity of then enforcing property rights against crime, freeloading and other manifestations of the weaknesses of human nature gave rise to the construction of the state, which is secondary and quite artificial in comparison to the market. This philosophical conviction describes the thinking behind neoliberalism as much as that of its 17th century progenitor.
It does not even remotely describe the thinking of anti-immigrant border protection advocates, however. In the world of the Minutemen and their supporters, it's the nation-state that comes first. And if necessary, it comes at the expense of the market. We have a country whose political integrity requires vigilant protection, their thinking goes, and if economic exchange pathways (like labor and job markets, for instance) start to jeopardize that integrity, then they must be strictly regulated - and not just through tax incentives, but if necessary through military and police intervention and physical deportation of workers without documentation.
To a classical liberal as to a neoliberal, for whom the jurisdiction of the state is a function of the reach of the market and not vice-versa, such thinking is heresy. The purpose of government, the classical liberal believes, is to protect life and property from theft and violence and to adjudicate the inevitable disputes that arise from trade relations, and to otherwise stay well out of the way of the functioning of natural human "society," which is to say, the market. Neoliberal rag sheets like The Economist have resuscitated that philosophy and repeat it ad nauseum. To a liberal or a neoliberal doctrinaire, the idea of the government physically controlling market forces by restricting the mobility of labor and criminalizing the hiring of the cheapest labor available should smack of Socialism every bit as much as taxing capital gains and erecting tariff barriers does.
Hence the quandary borne of the syncretic ideology of the modern Republican Party. Everybody agrees that the main impetus to illegal immigration on our Southern border is the fact that the supply and demand continuum of a unified labor market happens to overlie a major political boundary line. The debate hinges on which to regard as the more fundamental of two borders: the clear and tangible political one that the Minutemen patrol in their jacked-up SUVs or the fuzzy economic one that gets fuzzier by the day. Where neoliberals look around the world and see only markets, neoconservatives, whose movement was born in the great nationalist clashes of the Cold War, look around the world and see nation-states with political borders. Accordingly, the talking heads on Fox News, who have always been more sympathetic to the neocons than to the neolibs, have taken the predictable position of hysteria over the vulnerability of American borders. The free market champions of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, meanwhile, have taken just the opposite tack.
That said, the neoconservatives have so far been quite divided on the immigration question. Bill Kristol refuses to see the pursuit of a better life as a crime, whereas David Horowitz sides with the anti-immigrant organization, FAIR. The ranks, then, have broken, but not as cleanly as one might expect - they never do in politics. But the fact of the break demonstrates that the Republican Party has always found its coherence in party discipline much more than in ideological solidarity. Now it has neither.