As the teeming mass of mostly male, partly criminal, humanity stews about on Mexican side of our Southern border, entertaining itself by throwing rocks at US border officials, emoting for CNN cameras, and periodically rushing the fence in an effort to break through to America, it is worth stepping back to ask a few large questions.
But first, let’s step out of the rancid pool of sentimentality with which the media, in its anti-Trump frenzy, has surrounded this episode. That sentimentality ranges from the astringent, Jim-Acosta sort, in which a reporter barks little virtue-signaling rhetorical bombs at the President of the United States, to the truly emetic effusion by Robert Francis ‘Beto’ O’Rourke, failed senatorial candidate, who began with this heart-tugger:
It should tell us something about her home country that a mother is willing to travel 2,000 miles with her four-month old son to come here. Should tell us something about our country that we only respond to this desperate need once she is at our border. So far, in this administration, that response has included taking kids from their parents, locking them up in cages, and now tear gassing them at the border.
‘This administration,’ Beto? Surely you know — but will not say — that the Trump administration has been doing exactly what the Obama administration did. Remember those photos of kids behind wire fences? CNN pretended they were contemporary. In fact, they were from 2014, when the great Calmer-of-the-Seas was in charge. The policy is the same: separate children from illegal alien adults when keeping them together would pose a danger to the children. Let me pause to point out that if you don’t want to be separated from your child (when she is your child and not your underage sex toy), do not enter the Unites States illegally.
As for ‘tear gassing them at the border,’ that’s another trick that the Trump administration has — rightly in my view — taken over from the Obama years. As far as I know, this was the first time the Trump administration used tear gas on migrants who violently assaulted the border fence in an effort to gain illegal entry to the United States. Maybe there are other instances. During the Obama years it happened about once a month, but Beto somehow neglected to mention that.
The rich Texas progressive then goes on to suggest that the migrant crisis is actually the fault of the United States because of its past interactions with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. It’s because of us, you see, that thousands of people are massed at our Southern border violently trying to break in.
But back to those large questions. Every country has immigration laws. The laws of the United States, as it happens, are among the most generous in the world. We currently allow into the country about one million legal immigrants a year. Should we? Is that too many, especially when you factor in the rate of illegal immigration, which is estimated to be two to three times that?
Step back further. What is a country? It is a political entity defined in part by borders. It harbors citizens, who owe allegiance to that country and to whom the country owes its first solicitude. Does the United States have an obligation to every distressed mother with a four-month-old? Beto may posture and pretend that the answer is yes. But in fact, the answer is no. It’s a sad fact, perhaps, but it is a fact nonetheless, and to pretend otherwise exhibits not your finer moral make-up but your hypocrisy.
From 1927 until 1965, when Senator Edward ‘Chappaquiddick’ Kennedy introduced legislation that transformed our immigration policy, the United States favored immigration from Western Europe and the Anglosphere. It did this because such immigrants were considered most likely to possess the cultural capital to be able to make a contribution to the United States.
Which brings me to another question: What is the purpose of immigration? No country is required to welcome immigrants. But for those who do, what should their criteria of acceptance be? Should immigration policy be a species of progressive virtue-signaling, according to which we welcome the ‘Other’ just because he is as different as possible from ourselves? Or should we look for people who are likely to make a positive contribution to our society? I am firmly in the latter camp.
Those who say that Democrats are for lax immigration policy and lax enforcement of immigration laws because the more poor immigrants that flood into the country, the more welfare recipients and, hence, probable Democratic voters there will be are right. How far that process can go before the country is destroyed is a question we cannot answer.
It comes down to this. There are those who believe in the integrity of countries. There are what Donald Trump calls ‘nationalists.’ Then there are the transnational progressives who believe that nation states are an atavistic form of political organization and who in any case wish to harm the United States by degrading the character of its population and increasing the burdens on its social services. I am firmly ensconced in the former camp. Beto and his smiling confrères are in the latter camp, though I suspect he would change his tune eftsoons and right speedily if a few busloads of ‘asylum seekers’ were to show up next door to his 4,700-square-foot Hacienda-style house in El Paso.