We must infuse Rational Behavior into our Immigration Policy
A “caravan” of migrants is slowly winding its way towards the US border.
If it is allowed to enter the country illegally and without consequence, we can expect the flood gates to swing open and our southern border will become a conflict zone. America is facing a growing crisis of sovereignty.
This situation is analogous to the human-wave invasion of Europe from the Middle East and Africa. The root causes are similar: failed governments, economic hardship, corruption and violence. Overlaid on these latent causes are the ill-considered rhetoric and actions of perhaps well-meaning politicians and activists on the left that have exacerbated the problems.
People respond to stimulus: pain and reward. There is clearly pain aplenty in the horrific conditions endemic in Central America and although not as severe, in Mexico. Migrations have often been preceded by such conditions (the Irish Famine and the Holocaust come to mind).
In that respect, the desire of people to seek a better life is understandable, and this leads to a discussion of the positive reward that is also driving the exodus.
The proximate cause of the stampede of refugees into Europe was German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 statement that her country would accept Syrian refugees (initially without limits). This prompted a massive invasion that has created huge social problems and greater hardship and risk for the migrants.
It has also triggered a significant anti-immigrant backlash and was a precipitating cause for Brexit (Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union to protect its national sovereignty).
Likewise, the belief that they will find sanctuary is one of the principal motivations for this migrant caravan to our southern border. Comments, principally from the Left, responsive to open immigration, and the (literal) “sanctuary city” movement create clear signals that immigrants, legal or not, will find a welcoming environment, regardless of the reality on the ground.
Both examples show that an “open-door” policy encourages relocation and likely pushes the situation from movement to mass migration and crisis.
Ironically, the “Sanctuary Movement” has roots in the pre-Civil War slave-holding South. They are resurrecting the concept of “Nullification,” a theory founded on the notion that a state (or locale) has the right to nullify, or invalidate, a Federal law which they deem unconstitutional (or in this case, morally incorrect).
Between 1800 and the beginning of the Civil War, several states threatened or attempted nullification of various Federal laws. In the 1950s, southern states attempted to use nullification and interference to prevent integration of their schools.
Sanctuary (cities/states) limit their cooperation with Federal immigration enforcement in order to protect immigrants from deportation. While there has been no direct legal challenge to the US Constitution, the declaration by a subordinate government that it will not enforce Federal laws duly enacted under the Constitution is de facto an attempt to impose “Nullification.”
It was not tolerated then and is not acceptable today.
Not since the 1980 Mariel boatlift has the US faced such a concentrated influx of immigrants. In that case, the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro facilitated and supported the action. He also dumped criminals and institutionalized mental patients into the mix.
While the current caravan is a fraction of the “Marielitos,” if successful in their quest to penetrate the border, it could be only the vanguard of a larger problem.
Likewise, it is difficult to imagine that this movement was purely spontaneous in nature and self-sustaining in process. It has been reliably reported that Bartolo Fuentes, of the left-wing Honduran Libre Party, assisted in the genesis of the action and an organization with which he is affiliated, “Pueblo Sin Fronteras” (village without borders), appears to be providing organizational support.
Conspiracy theorists on the right have accused Democratic financier George Soros (among others) of materially supporting the caravan, but to date, there is no credible support to these accusations. Never-the-less, the vociferous support of illegal immigrants by the Left has opened the door to such rumor mongering and “false news.”
Furthermore, the original 2,000 people fleeing oppression in Central America have been joined by nearly three-times that number persons along the road in Mexico. Their status as “refugees” is certainly in question.
Absolutely nothing good can come from the coming confrontation on our southern border, likely in Texas. The first skirmish, and there will be one, between a bellicose migrant and American security forces (be they border agents, police or the military), will further divide the American polity. The moderate position will disappear altogether.
Is there any possible solution? Any action that will alter the coming storm?
The simple answer in the short-term is a resounding, “No!”
There is too little time and too little reasoned thought to stem the immediate crisis. I fear the worse case scenario far more that I believe in a rational outcome (and I’m not even sure what that looks like).
In the long run, we must come together to (rapidly) develop a coherent immigration policy.
First, we must acknowledge that immigration is not just inevitable, but desired. We need skilled people to fuel our economy and charity would dictate humane treatment of those truly in danger.
In a nutshell, these are the components that must be addressed: The border must be secured against illegal passage. Aliens currently resident in the US must be identified and registered. This would entail some form of limited amnesty, which also means that some deportation is necessary. A comprehensive guest-worker program must be established that links labor needs to qualified entrants. In addition, some form of universal immigrant registration and tracking must be imposed.
In the meantime, existing laws must be enforced (by all) until new ones are legislated.
Such a list is sure to have something that everyone can hate, but hopefully it also has something to which any reasonable person can agree.
Can we do this? Given our bifurcated citizenry and divisive politics, I am not sanguine that such a compromise is possible.
However, perhaps this impending crisis can bring about positive change. Under such pressure, compromise may be the best solution. The alternatives are unpleasant to contemplate.