As I write this, Congress is at a budget impasse that has once again shut down the federal government. The primary point of contention is the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) issue whereby foreign national children brought into the United States illegally are facing deportation unless Congress acts to allow them to remain.
Essentially the budget is being held hostage over a nonbudgetary issue. It would be rational and fair if budget bills were just about the budget and immigration bills were just about immigration, but that’s not how our stupidly partisan political class operates.
Polling indicates that most Americans, regardless of political party, agree that it would be cruelly unfair to deport the estimated 800 thousand DACA kids for the sins of their parents who brought them into this country illegally. Arriving here as young children, they have grown up as Americans and have little affinity with the countries where they were born.
And now, a similar argument is being made for the 200 thousand El Salvadorans who were given temporary refugee status here, and, because they have been allowed to stay for nearly 20 years, have grown roots in America and don’t want to go back to El Salvador.
Complicating matters is that during their time here they have produced about 180,000 children who, by virtue of having breached the womb in the United States, are U.S. citizens.
Many people feel it wouldn’t be fair to separate families and deport people who have established lives here, but would it be rational?
The entire issue of immigration, particularly illegal immigration, has been festering in America for many years now and because it has been purposely neglected, even aided and abetted, by the forces of greed who benefit from inexpensive foreign labor, and by the emotional forces of social justice and identity politics who sanctimoniously defend it, it has grown into an angry political pustule that burst with the election of President Donald Trump.
Trump’s improbable election was in no small part due to the immigration issue, and he is tackling that issue with the all the capricious consciousness, tactless language and boorishly aggressive zeal that comes so naturally to him.
But, he is tackling it.
Meanwhile, immigration is a primary rallying issue for the anti-Trump movement — “the resistance.” To wit, in open defiance of the federal government, cities and even the entire state of California have declared themselves sanctuaries for illegal immigrants.
Indeed, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra is threatening California employers with steep fines if they dare cooperate with federal immigration authorities. (I wonder if he will be as daringly defiant in defending the state’s legalization of marijuana from federal drug warriors.)
Meanwhile, sympathetic media pull on the heartstrings of the public with a constant barrage of sob stories about the plight of illegal immigrants. The objective facts and broader consequences of the immigration issue are ignored or get only cursory coverage. Such slanted, intentionally emotive appeals to fairness hardly contribute to rational consideration of the issue.
What is rational and fair immigration policy? That can be a difficult question to answer because what is rational and what is fair are not always the same things.
While it is not fair that some people are born in poverty-stricken, over-populated and war-torn nations while others are born in affluent, less congested and peaceful nations, it is neither fair nor rational that the former are entitled to the homes of the latter.
If your house is in poor shape or you have outgrown it, it doesn’t mean you get to barge into your neighbor’s bigger, better house. The poor conditions in a country aren’t addressed by its people running away and squatting in some other country. Most often, a nation’s citizens are responsible for their nation’s conditions.
This isn’t the 1800s. The world’s huddled masses now number in the billions, and there are no longer vast frontier lands in America where waves of immigrants can settle.
At 325 million people, the United States is the third most populous nation on earth, and due to immigration, growing at a Third World rate. In a single lifetime the U.S. population has more than doubled. America no longer needs nor does it benefit from indiscriminate, unregulated mass immigration.
To be rational, immigration policy must now be more refined, selective and restrictive. Instituting a merit based system such as used by Canada, Australia and New Zealand would screen and evaluate prospective immigrants for qualities that would enhance society and not burden it. This system would include work visas for seasonal agricultural workers when domestic labor or automation are not available.
Trump’s “beautiful border wall” is political pablum he spoon-fed to the infantile intellects of his true-believers. A more rational, effective and certainly less expensive policy would be the mandatory use of the E-Verify system by all employers, which would hinder hiring of illegal immigrants.
Current immigration policies such as family reunification (chain migration), lotteries and the corrupted H-1B visa program should be discontinued.
Finally, and maybe most important, birthright citizenship should be restricted to people born to parents at least one of whom is a U.S. citizen. Pregnant women flying in from China or wading across the Rio Grande to give birth to their babies in America so that those children can claim U.S. citizenship is about as rational as claiming kittens born in an oven are cookies.
For Americans concerned with environmental degradation, housing shortages, overtaxed infrastructure, downward pressure on wage scales, increased competition for blue-collar jobs, and crowded classrooms, freeways and emergency rooms, know that burgeoning human population is the most critical factor affecting all of those conditions.
Amnesty for the DACA immigrants is fair, but it must be bought with rational immigration policy reforms that end the free-for-all at our borders and preclude further amnesties for illegal immigrants.
— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.