Can we be honest about illegal immigration?
It is a common challenge to almost every advanced Western country that is adjacent to poorer nations.
American employers and ethnic activists have long colluded to weaken border enforcement and render immigration law meaningless. The former wanted greater profits from cheaper labor, the latter wished more political clout for themselves.
Mexico conspired, too. It received billions of easy dollars in remittances from its expatriates in America. Mexico had few qualms about letting millions of its own citizens illegally cross its northern border into the United States — even though the Mexican government would never tolerate millions of Central Americans illegally crossing the border to become permanent residents of Mexico.
For better or worse, illegal immigration is tied to race and ethnicity. No doubt, ignorant racism drives some to oppose illegal immigration. But by the same token, the advocates of open borders, many of them with strong ties to Mexico, would not be so energized about the issue if hundreds of thousands of Europeans or Africans were entering the U.S. illegally each year.
There is too often a surreal disconnect about the perception of the U.S. in the immigration debate.
Millions, we sometimes forget, are fleeing from the authoritarianism, racism, corruption, and class oppression of Mexico. They have voted with their feet to reject that model and to choose a completely different — and often antithetical — economic, social, cultural, and political paradigm in the United States. Somehow that bothersome fact is lost in the habitual criticism of a hospitable and magnanimous America.
Then there is the matter of law. America went to war over the Confederate states’ nullification of federal laws. A century and a half later, do we really want hundreds of sanctuary cities, each declaring irrelevant certain federal laws that they find bothersome?
For every left-wing city that declares immigration statutes inoperative, a right-wing counterpart might do the same with the Endangered Species Act, gun-registration laws, affirmative action, or gay marriage. The result would be chaos and anarchy, not compassion.
Controversy has arisen over the number of undocumented immigrants who have committed felonies or serious misdemeanors, such as the Mexican national — a repeat felon and deportee — recently charged with the fatal shooting of a young woman in San Francisco. But the furor begs the question: Why would any guest violate the rules of his host? And why is the data on such violations so hard to come by and so prone to controversy?