This paper explores the neglected relationship between conservatism as a political theory, and conservatism as political practice, using the example of recent immigration to Europe. A cursory glance at how European politicians have responded to migration challenges suggests that they roughly divide into a leftist ‘liberal’ and a rightist ‘conservative’ camp, between those that favour some form of an open-arms policy and those who prefer to close borders. The situation, however, is more complex. This article engages with the resources of conservative theory to argue that there are many distinct conservative-theoretical positions for any one policy point. Using contemporary migration patterns as a case-study, we suggest that Conservative parties have not borrowed much from conservative theory in its variety of incarnations. In fact, conservative theory can buttress a course of action that is generous toward migrants and at odds with the claims of right-wing populist movements. While certain strands of conservatism imagine a homogenous people, there are others that are no less propluralization than liberal theory, and sometimes more so.