As should have been clear from the start, President Trump’s decision to halt the practice of family separation for supposed asylum-seekers who try to enter the United States outside of designated ports of entry will by no means end this phase of the immigration policy wars.
After all, this reversal has come via executive order, and the administration’s new policy – which would prevent family separation by detaining both children who have sought illegal entry into the country along with the adults that have accompanied them until their asylum claims are approved – appears to clash with a 2015 Federal court decision appearing to mandate quick release of both the children and the adults, whether asylum claims have been vetted or not.
In addition, avowed immigration rights advocates have made unmistakably clear their dissatisfaction with the new administration stance – strongly indicating in the process that their main concern has never been family separation, but the practice of detaining any of these family members until their asylum claims can be examined.
In other words, these advocates want a “catch and release” policy to be applied to these newcomers as well – even though many and possibly illegal border crossers never comply with orders to return to immigration courts once their cases are up for judgment. So court challenges are inevitable, as is pressure on politicians to loosen such border control practices further, as the outcry over the previous administration policy appears to be widespread (though its depth remains unclear, as suggested by these Gallup results).
And since even ultimately the President has shown that he’ll allow apparent public opinion to override his restrictionist immigration instincts, it’s reasonable to expect the U.S. illegal immigrant population to resume rising, and to surge strongly if Mr. Trump loses a reelection bid in 2020. And don’t forget: Washington could well turn on another powerful magnet for more immigration, especially from the very low-income countries of the Western Hemisphere – broad amnesty for the DACA population, residents of the United States who were brought to the country as children by illegal immigrant parents.
It looks, therefore, all too likely that a new outburst of virtue-signaling fomented by the Open Borders lobby will generate major new costs for the American economy, including both the native-born population, recent legal immigrants, and even recent illegals. Principally, downward wage pressures will increase on workers from these groups with less than exceptional educations or skill levels. And taxpayers at all income levels will need to pay for the government-provided services these newcomers will need.
These services, moreover, aren’t simply confined to various forms of welfare (since a large majority of these arrivals themselves will be poorly schooled and largely unskilled). The population increases they fuel will need new schools, public transit, and fire and law enforcement capabilities, just to name a few. (For a shocking example of the price of failing to provide these new services, check out this recent Washington Post piece on a middle school located right near where I live in a Maryland suburb of D.C. that’s becoming dominated by MS-13 recruiting and recruits in part because of a ballooning student body attributable to the surge of unaccompanied Central American minors in 2014.)
At the same time, those Americans who reap most of the benefits from supercharged immigration flows will represent a much smaller group. As I showed in this 2014 Fortune column, it will be dominated by families high up the income ladder, who disproportionately use the cut-rate landscapers, housekeepers, and nannies who account for so many illegal immigrant workers; and from businesses and entire industries (like construction, hotels, and restaurants) which profit so handsomely from the continuing flood of cheap labor.
As I also wrote in that column, these inequities are far from inevitable, and reducing them is hardly rocket science. How? Through policies that result in the main beneficiaries of illegal immigration paying the lion’s share of the costs. Four years ago, I suggested a new tax on the super-rich, and on industries that heavily employ illegals. That’s still entirely appropriate. But other possibilities abound, too.
For example, how about channeling these newcomers to sanctuary states, and cities and other localities? Or to states that voted for Hillary Clinton for president in 2016? Or to the Congressional districts represented by the loudest critics of the family separation and other elements of the President’s immigration policy? (Yes, there’s lots of overlap here.)
Moreover, let’s not forget the celebrity world. Via social media campaigns, maybe the Samantha Bees and the Robert de Niros and the Kathy Griffins could be pressed to provide some financing for this new – or newly legalized – population. (And here, it’s vitally important to specify that big contributions to advocacy groups focused on indiscriminately helping newcomers work the system, and thereby encouraging greater numbers, a la the Clooneys this week, doesn’t cut it.) Considering its sometimes reckless, often hysterical, and usually one-sided coverage of this complicated issue, the Mainstream Media should be targeted for similar “shaming.”
It’s all about applying to immigration controversies a fundamental principle of fairness – user pays – and adding to it the idea of “cheerleader pays” And even if this proposal falls flat on its face, it will at least achieve a crucial goal: helping Americans distinguish between the virtue signalers and the genuinely compassionate.