When Donald Trump ran for office, there was nothing unusual about our illegal immigration issue. The height of the problem, such as it ever was, happened in 2005. We had less of an issue with illegal migration when the borders were unenforced. Then, migrant workers, particularly seasonal agricultural workers, came, worked and went home (everybody wants to go home some time). Clampdowns on the border means that when they make it, they stay. Many rush the border today out of fear of an effective clampdown tomorrow. We have created this crisis ourselves.

Emergencies you create for yourself still count as emergencies. Making the rod for your own back doesn’t oblige you to keep hitting yourself with it.

Though people’s lives are at risk, our partisan fun-house hall of mirrors prevents even the use of the word emergency. Emergency is just the word to use to describe infrastructure suddenly strained with the arrival of tens of thousands of people. There is no room for good-faith in arguing that the caravans don’t create grave moral hazard.

Mexico is the main maker of the moral hazard. Mexico gives caravan members identifying wrist bands, to help bum-rush them north, out of their own country. This is a violation of all international refugee law. America is not the most guilty nation in manipulating these poor souls for political advantage. Mexico needs punishing to deter this.

This rush to the border is largely people fleeing a situation we, again, made for ourselves, with our War on Drugs. To claim the war that displaced them could only be defined as violation of the Peace of Westphalia is to be ignore decades of American policy with the War on Terror. The parsing of the cases of Central Americans displaced by the War on Drugs is dissonant with the nation that scarred the face of the Middle East with our other war on proper nouns.

Bernie Sanders, “non-evil racist” standard-bearer of the Left, played a pivotal role in killing the last chance we had at comprehensive immigration reform. President Trump never did that. Yet he is cast as the racist in the fun-house. The truth is that the border crisis is grist for our partisan war-mill, mostly about who can craft immigration politics into a weapon to use to hurt the other side.

The contours for immigration reform are obvious, traditional, with many precedents: some form of amnesty for the illegals who have made productive lives here, some form of making the others return home to re-apply under those obvious reforms. Which would mean controlling how and when they return. Border controls need to be fixed any way you slice this apple. unless we want to go back to the non-policy of benign border neglect that led to this being the non-issue it historically is. Rod-beating-back does tend to remove benign neglect from the options menu, though (see paragraph 1).

The West needs immigration. The developed nations are dying from demographic decline. America is unique in securing our future from this. Again, traditionally, and with precedents: we allow immigration. What kind of immigrant though? The country no longer needs filling (much of it, anyway). It’s clear that technological transformation of the workplace is imminent, and low-skill workers will be losers (among the few). Is it an option for the future to dilute the prospects of native low-skill workers, irrespective of the ethics of managing the refugees? This question is now searing Europe.

Which leads us to: immigration into an open labor market is not the same as immigration into a closed one. Immigration with strong welfare amounts to importing tax-dependents, which no nation does without discord, because it’s not rational. Libertarians would open labor markets, but our policy making power is a jape.

The charge of racism against the USA today is laughable. The latest census data shows 12% of Americans are foreign born. It’s 40% of New Yorkers. Evidence of racial discord amongst us (with the exception of our incarceration habits) is quite thin, given the numbers, given the media attention on the issue. Race problems are best described nowadays as work-in-progress, abstract. In the real world, I can’t think of a real nation that’s done better.

Kids separated from parents: this happens any time any parent is incarcerated. It is a disaster, to be avoided at all costs. But America would still do this more than anyone, even if nobody crashed the border. We lock up kids’ parents for everything from mental illness to the War On Drugs. It’s called prosecution under current law. It’s really an argument that incarceration should be a tool of last resort. Yet mass incarceration has had a bipartisan consensus; Republicans and Democrats: Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton. Democrats suddenly discovering its inhumanity, just for this crisis, is tears from the crocodile, the plying of an agenda, the gathering of grist.

Eugene Darden Nicholas

About Eugene Darden Nicholas

Eugene Darden (Ed) Nicholas is from Flushing Queens, where he grew up sheltered from the hard world, learning the true things after graduating college and becoming a paramedic in Harlem. School continues to inform and entertain in all its true, Shakespearean glory. It's a lot of fun, really. In that career, dozens of people walk the earth now who would not be otherwise. (The number depends on how literally or figuratively you choose to add). He added a beloved wife to his little family, which is healthy. He is also well blessed in friends and colleagues.


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