Opinion | Morgan Liddick: The unending debate on immigration
On Your Right
“Those who come are generally of the most ignorant, stupid sort … they now come in droves, and carry all before them so that … they will soon so outnumber us that we will not be able to preserve our language and even our government will become precarious …”
To those ready to shriek about another Trump speech crime, sorry. Those were the words of Benjamin Franklin, discussing German immigration in the late 1700s. We’ve been discussing immigration for awhile and for every Franklin and Jefferson, there has been a Benjamin Rush, pointing out that a judicious “naturalization” policy would bring the best of the world to the United States, enriching the country and its citizens thereby.
In Washington last Thursday, President Trump added his thoughts to the centuries-old conversation. There followed the predictable uproar from the usual suspects.
To most who value country over party the president’s remarks were unexceptionable. He pointed — again — to the crisis at the border, caused by a flood of people of unknown background from a wide variety of countries, all seeking to enter the United States illegally. From late April through mid-May, about 4,500 illegal entrants per day were detained on our southern border, with over 150,000 total detainees in April. This trend may slow in the hottest months of the summer, but to rely on the weather to keep the nation’s borders secure seems a bit weak in light of recent numbers. Because of this continuing pressure and based on the common idea that control of physical borders is one of the most important features of the modern nation-state, the president proposed to end this untenable situation and the sooner, the better.
To do this he proposed stricter controls on the much-abused system of asylum-seeking, with rapid adjudication and immediate deportation for those who fail to prove their case. He proposed improvements in infrastructure at the border, in technology, manpower and especially changes in the laws and regulations that act as a magnet for illegal entrants and encourage human smugglers to use children — the better to establish a fiction of “family groups” among their living cargo. We should not forget that 65% of those trafficked across the border last year were minors.
The White House proposal does not change the net level of legal immigration per annum, but rather prioritizes high-skilled workers over those whose family members are U.S. citizens. It would allow applicants to rack up eligibility based on factors such as age, ability to speak English, job offers and educational background under what Trump called a new “Build America” visa. As the president noted, “…currently, 66% of legal immigrants (are) admitted solely because they have a relative in the United States. Another 21% of immigrants are issued (visas) either by random lottery, or because they are fortunate enough to be selected for humanitarian relief. (This) proposal will stand this figure on its head.” And in doing so, will return US immigration priorities to those which existed until the 1960s.
President Trump’s proposals to overhaul a dysfunctional system that has persisted for more than 50 years garnered the expected response. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Trump’s offering a “dead-on-arrival plan that is not a remotely serious proposal.” And Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) slammed it as a “despicable abdication of moral authority” as if the party that has used every subterfuge in the book and a few written especially for the occasion to assure that the open-borders policy of the past twenty years continues to provide an ample supply of low-skill, non-English-speaking, easily exploited laborers already enculturated with the patronage systems of Central and South America, that it may eventually harvest their support has any claim to “moral authority” whatsoever. Sen. Blumenthal evidently thinks it appropriate to abdicate the rule of law and beggar border communities to improve the fortunes of the Democratic party. I leave it to readers to decide what that says about his “moral authority.”
President Trump’s proposal is nevertheless probably in vain because it neither perpetuates the Democrats’ desideratum of open borders, nor does it confer legal status on “Dreamers” or illegal residents, currently about 11-plus millions. This, plus a burning desire to prevent the president from being able to claim any legislative victory — in which they will be assisted by Republicans more interested in cheap lawn care than the nation’s well-being — will probably lock away any chance of even negotiating toward a compromise on immigration for sixteen more months.
Democrats will also doubtless raise a hue and cry as social welfare systems of communities overwhelmed by the current wave of illegal immigration begin to collapse — also due to their refusal to act prudently.
Another thing to remember, come November of next year.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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