The current crisis on the U.S.’ southern border is President Biden’s fault. His predecessors’ immigration policies were working. The new administration’s reliance on stemming the migrants’ tide by Building Back Better in Central America won’t work for the foreseeable future, if at all. When folks like Mr. Biden talk about “fixing a broken system,” they really mean reorienting that system to maximize immigration. And – most damning of all – bolstering America’s well-being and security shouldn’t be the main aims of U.S. immigration policy.
Don’t take my word for it. Take that of Jorge Ramos. Because these dangerously radical and indeed – in one instance, un-American – points were exactly what the Univision anchor and long-time supporter of Open Borders by Any Other Name just admitted openly in a column in last Friday’s New York Times.
On responsibility for the current border crisis? According to Ramos:
“‘The border is not open,’ the U.S. secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, told me in an interview. ‘What we have discontinued,’ Mr. Mayorkas promised, ‘is the cruelty of the previous administration.’”
“Well, apparently, in Central America, people only heard the bit about ‘cruelty’ being over, which is why so many migrants are heading north toward the border. Tens of thousands of asylum seekers, mostly from Central America, have waited for over a year in Mexican border towns and they will not waste this opportunity.”
Don’t think for a minute, incidentally, that the small Central American countries will be the only sending countries – even in the Western Hemisphere. The polling organization Gallup has recently determined that no fewer than 42 million Latin Americans want to move to the United States permanently. And as Ramos makes clear, no one should be startled in the least:
“It should come as no surprise that this [migration flow] is happening along a border that divides one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world from one of its most economically unequal regions. Latin America’s poor and vulnerable — struggling amid a pandemic, the devastation of climate change and the violence of their homelands — are moving north to a safer, more prosperous place. It’s that simple. And this will keep happening for a long time.”
On the effectiveness of President Trump’s policies, Ramos writes that they “reduced annual net immigration to its lowest levels since the 1980s.” It’s true that he denounces them as “racist,” “anti-immigrant,” “inhuman,” and “repressive.”
But as long as he’s being so candid, he and others of his ilk need to ask “compared to what?” As Ramos himself reports,
“According to the head of the U.S. Northern Command, 30 percent to 35 percent of [Mexico] is under the control of ‘transnational criminal organizations.’ This means that any migrants traveling north through Mexico are in immediate danger.”
Indeed, the present U.S. immigration system is now “a dangerous system that encourages human trafficking controlled by drug cartels and other organized crime networks.”
What should U.S. immigration policy aim for? What could be clearer than Ramos’ answer that it “must involve accepting many more authorized immigrants”?
Or than Washington must “create a system that can legally, efficiently and safely absorb more of these immigrants and refugees. They will keep coming; there is no other solution”?
Or than “[T]he United States should start accepting between one and a half and two million authorized immigrants every year. Entry into the United States must be legalized and optimized….”? (At the same time, given the powerful forces Ramos describes as fueling continuing hemispheric migration to the United States, what makes him think that such a U.S. quota would prevent much greater migrant flows from continuing to come to America’s doorstep?)
Nor does Ramos evidently think much of the near-term potential of turning Central America into the kind of place people wouldn’t seek to flee in the first place:
“The $4 billion investment in Central America that President Biden has promised is a good starting point for tackling the origins of migration in the region: poverty and a lack of opportunity. That project, however, will take years to yield results.”
But the key to understanding Ramos’ position, and possibly those of many other supporters of more lenient U.S. immigration policies, is recognizing that U.S. interests – safeguarding the nation’s security and prosperity – isn’t his top priority.
Thus the author’s argument that “It’s clear that America’s immigration system is broken and outdated” because “it doesn’t reflect the new needs of the United States or its southern neighbors.” And why else would he emphasize that “all along the U.S.-Mexico border, the aspirations of new immigrants are colliding with a country reluctant to revamp its way of welcoming and absorbing newcomers.”
Ramos doesn’t neglect the case that ramping up immigration is in America’s interests, too, focusing in particular on familiar arguments that many more newcomers are needed “to support the nation’s beleaguered economy, replace its growing population of retired workers and make up for the country’s low birthrate.”
Although I and others have repeatedly debunked these claims (see, e.g., here and here), they’re entirely legitimate to debate. So is the insistence that America has a moral duty to accept more of the world’s tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free – to paraphrase the (justly) famous Emma Lazarus poem at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
But the judgment about the economic impact of greater immigration flows, and about the country’s moral obligations, must be made by Americans alone. Otherwise, kiss goodbye the country’s sovereignty and independence. Ramos’ suggestion to the contrary should go far toward intellectually (though not legally!) disqualifying him from the American immigration policy debate.
Except he’s did such a great job in this Times column of unwittingly confirming some of the strongest indictments of lax immigration policies and the worst fears of border realists about the agendas of their backers. In fact, to paraphrase a classical Greek general’s reported lament after a costly victory, another such column (or a couple), and the Open Borders cause may be undone.