by Chris Buskirk
Why have Democrats shut down—or at least partially shut down—the federal government rather than approve partial funding for a wall along the southern border? President Trump’s $5.7 billion request is a trivial sum, amounting to a bit more than one-tenth of 1 percent of the federal budget. It’s far less than the amount we give to Latin American countries in handouts every year and it’s part of a sacred commitment government has to defend our border, uphold our laws, and protect our people.
President Trump described a humanitarian crisis at the border contrived by Democrats with the active complicity of misguided Republicans who think that attracting a helot class from Latin America to clean their houses, mow their lawns, and drive down wages for low-skill jobs is some sort of capitalist charity scheme that signals their virtue. It isn’t.
In fact, it’s inhumane. How can we describe the human trafficking racket that transports so many of these people here, including many thousands involved in the sex trade or forced into servitude for the cartels, as anything other than a modern slave trade?
And it comes with all of the violence and degradation you would expect. For example, a 2017 report by Doctors Without Borders says that “1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico.” And in 2016 over 20,000 children crossed the border alone and were apprehended by ICE. For what purpose are children being sent without their parents across the desert in the custody of gangsters? There is no good answer. The solution is to stop enticing people north with hopes of off-the-books jobs, fake IDs, access to American welfare programs, and a potential future amnesty.
What these virtue signalers are really engaging in is not charity or mercy; it is the strip mining of Latin America’s most valuable assets—its people—and the break-up of families and traditional cultures and social structures for their own purposes.
To make matters worse, they are creating social and economic crises for their fellow Americans. Not that they see displaced Rust Belt workers, broken working class families, or unemployed and underemployed men across the country as fellow Americans. They’re just anonymous economic inputs who can be replaced by a cheaper model or, worse, just losers who can be ignored and vilified as deplorables and bitter clingers. That’s a violation of the social compact.
Harvard economist George Borjas notes just one example of the economic depredations suffered by America’s lower and middle classes thanks to illegal migration: “According to census data, immigrants admitted in the past two decades lacking a high school diploma have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by roughly 25 percent. As a result, the earnings of this particularly vulnerable group dropped by between $800 and $1,500 each year.” And then there’s the crime.
In the past two years, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service arrested 266,000 illegal aliens with criminal records (127,992 in 2017 and 138,177 in 2018). That number included nearly 100,000 violent assaults, 4,000 murders, 30,000 sex crimes. Pause for a moment and think about that. Every one of those crimes was entirely avoidable, unnecessary, and the result of government’s failure to perform it’s most solemn duty: protecting the lives of its citizens.
Worse, our government allowed, even promoted, immigration policies that led to violence upon and death of Americans in the pursuit of money and votes. Remember that every time someone tells you open borders are compassionate.
Many millions of people have entered the United States illegally and remain here openly violating our laws. They work illegally, drive illegally, consume public services, and displace Americans, especially working class Americans, from their jobs. Even that’s not enough for elites and political operators eager to replace natives with a new population more to their liking.
Right now, states and cities across the country are pushing legislation that would give illegal aliens the right to vote (though many already do so illegally), which distorts our elections and deprives Americans of their rightful representation. Gavin Newsom, California’s new governor, has called his entire state a “sanctuary,” while New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio is adding the Big Apple’s illegal migrants to the city’s Medicaid rolls and sticking citizens with the bill.
At the same time, President Trump said on January 4 that people “can apply to come into our country legally, like so many people have done. And we need people. Major. We have to have people. Because we have all these companies coming in. We need great people. But we want them to come in on a merit basis, and they have to come in on a merit basis. They can’t come in the way they’ve been coming in for years.” He’s right, but that’s not what’s happening.
The much-publicized “migrant caravans” from Central America are being financed by a coalition of left-wing NGOs with the express purpose of breaking our laws. This is immoral and should be condemned. The people involved in it are bad actors who upend the lives of the people they enroll in these caravans and use as human props in American political battles. And what’s so wrong with Latin America anyway? A more moral and sustainable approach would be to encourage these same people to develop their own countries.
Would someone whose entire way of life in a new country is based upon breaking that country’s laws make a good citizen, a good partner in self-government? Certainly not. And there are between 10.5 and 22 million illegal aliens living that way in the United States. That is unsustainable.
Speaking to the nation from the Oval Office, President Trump, explained the moral responsibility of our government to each of us as citizens when he said that people, “don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside. The only thing that is immoral is for the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized.”
Likewise, he has repeatedly reminded his detractors that Americans have dreams too, and it is the job of government to create a civic, cultural, and political environment in which they can pursue them. A secure border, sensible immigration rules that are consistently enforced will help build a high trust society in which voluntary associations and individual initiative create rich communities. The current chaos wreaks havoc on our communities and on individual lives. Look no further than police office Ronil Singh who was gunned down in the line of duty. Officer Singh immigrated legally to the United States with his family. He did it the right way and added to his community and to the nation. Gustavo Perez Arriago, an illegal alien and Mexican national, did not and now stands accused of his murder. The choice is clear. Will we stand with Americans like Officer Singh or with those who believe that allowing Arriago into the country is just a cost of doing business. The time to act is now.
Henry Olsen, a scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a columnist here at American Greatness has explained that illegal migration pushes normal American citizens into economic competitions they cannot win. That’s fundamentally unfair, especially as those same forces also upend their communities, strain social services, and undermine the basic requirements and expectations of self-government. Meanwhile so-called conservatives defend this insanity in the name of a misunderstood devotion to markets or addiction to cheap, peasant labor. They seem to have forgotten that America is a country with an economy, not the other way around. And losing sight of that basic truth they’re destroying the basis of our shared liberty and prosperity. That is not just a national crisis, it’s a disgrace, and President Trump is right to insist that Congress act to protect the American people.
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Chris Buskirk is the Publisher and Editor of American Greatness and the host of The Seth & Chris Show. He was a Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute. and received a Fellowship from the Earhart Foundation. Chris is a serial entrepreneur who has built and sold businesses in financial services and digital marketing. He is a frequent guest on NPR’s Morning Edition. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Hill, and elsewhere. Connect with Chris on Twitter at @TheChrisBuskirk.
Photo “Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.