Why did the illegal-immigration issue launch Donald Trump’s campaign? Why did his recent tense press conference exchange with Univision’s Jorge Ramos please even some of Trump’s liberal critics? What is it about illegal immigration that has finally turned off so many Americans?
Over the years immigration activists successfully deconstructed the complex issue of illegal immigration into a race and class morality tale of privileged whites picking on poor brown people. The operative buzzwords were “racism,” “nativism,” and “xenophobia.” That theme is now mostly bankrupt given that every great lie eventually falls from its own weight.
It was rarely the host, but more often the activists on behalf of the guests, who framed illegal immigration in racial terms. Activists foolishly fabricated the controversy as “we noble Latinos” against “you prejudiced non-Latinos.” They forgot apparently two obvious truths: one, thirty percent of Americans are not so-called white; and, two, most people resent ethnic chauvinism. Is an unemployed African-American sympathetic to the argument that someone has a birthright to illegally cross into the United States and find instant employment? Is a Punjabi-American, waiting patiently for his engineer cousin to get a green card, eager to be told the United States must make special concessions to the Latino lobby? Does a third-generation Mexican-American prefer that his neighborhood school and emergency room be flooded with indigent illegal Mexican nationals?
Sometime in the last five years, the public woke up and grasped that Latino elite activists were not so much interested in illegal immigration per se, but only to the degree that the issue affected other Latinos. Were 3,000 Chinese illegally entering California per day by ship on the Northern California coast, Latino activists and politicians would probably be the first to call for enforcement of federal immigration law.
It is difficult for the National Council of La Raza to attempt to airbrush away vocabulary like “anchor baby” and “illegal immigration,” while insisting that its own nomenclature “La Raza” has nothing to do with race. The public knows that La Raza means “The Race,” and that those who founded that organization chose that racially charged noun for the precise purpose of ethnic triumphalism — in the way that every infamous 20th-century Latinate racist demagogue from Mussolini to Franco found a use for Raza/Razza, a mostly taboo term in Mediterranean Europe today. In an age when the Washington Redskins earn a presidential rebuke, it is inconceivable that the chief illegal-immigration advocate is a federally subsidized group known as the National Council of La Raza. No other organization would dare use such a term. In the public mind illegal immigration has gone from the old narrative that racists were enforcing the law to keep out mostly brown people to a new generation of racists who are trying to subvert the law to bring in mostly brown people.
2. The Law
The old canard that without law there is nothing did not resonate with voters in connection with illegal immigration until the 21st century. As long as there were only one or two million illegal immigrants apparently the public turned a blind eye. No longer. Extremists took legal noncompliance to an entirely new level of Orwellian arrogance. Suddenly, as if by fiat, the illegal-immigration lobby banned the term “illegal alien” — as if they had never read a word of 1984 or Animal Farm. They dreamed up “sanctuary city,” a reactionary, neo-Confederate idea of legal nullification, whose logical trajectory is the implosion of the entire idea of federal laws constitutionally supreme to state and local statutes. They lied by insisting that entering the United States illegally was simply a minor misdemeanor, when most Americans knew such unlawful entry was the beginning, not the end, of negating the law — inaugurating years of fake IDs, false Social Security numbers, second and third identities, and deliberate filing of untruthful federal and state documents.
Then the myth arose that criminality among illegal aliens was in fact lower that found in the general population, as if it mattered not at all that a quarter of all federal prisoners were in the United States illegally, or that some states reported that more than a fourth of their felonies were attributable to illegal aliens, or that around 20,000 illegal aliens from south of the border were routinely incarcerated in California prisons alone. Completely lost in the back and forth was the old notion that an immigrant, legal or illegal, was supposed to be a guest, whose behavior should be the model, rather than defended as no worse than those whom he joined.
The public tired of the unfairness in the applicability of the law. How had it come to pass that illegal aliens were not subject to enforcement of federal laws in the manner that all citizens most surely were? All Americans file through passport control when flying home; they are met by stern uniformed bureaucrats who are not an especially forgiving bunch for missing or lost documents. How could it be that millions by virtue of their ethnic fides were not subject to the same scrutiny? And if one law were to be waived, why, the public wonders, not others equally inconvenient?
People finally tired of the postmodern notion that to stop endemic illegality we were supposed to change the language rather than the reality. Americans are not quite yet ready to be Soviet subjects who are to embrace Newspeak, and apparently resented the assumption that they were.
Mexico itself has become quite unpopular. Accordingly to recent polls, never have Americans had more negative views of Mexico than during the era of Obama. Americans tired of being told that Mexico did not like the U.S., when the real truth was increasingly the opposite. It is not just the daily news of cartels, beheadings, and corruption that made Mexico unattractive, but the cynicism of the Mexican government itself.
Mexico and Central American nations receive $50 billion a year in remittances from their expatriate citizens in the United States. But if illegal aliens were impoverished and exploited as their home countries alleged, how could they transfer such monumental sums back home — and why would not their mother countries worry about the ensuing burdens placed upon their low-wage-earning citizens abroad?
Hypocrisy became synonymous with the idea of Mexico. Its constitution defines illegal immigration in racialist and chauvinist terms — barring those it finds unhealthy or an economic burden or even prone to upset “the equilibrium of the national demographics.” If American emulated Mexican law, almost all illegal aliens would face immediate deportation if not prison sentences. When Mexico deliberately has exported ten percent of its population and lectures the U.S. on their ensuing welfare, then the vocabulary of hypocrisy fails.
During the last two-decade influx of illegal aliens, a huge number was from the Mexican hinterlands, often indigenous peoples from Oaxaca or Chiapas who have long suffered racial discrimination inside Mexico. That Mexico for the first time champions their cause when they leave Mexican soil is the sort of racism of which Mexico habitually accuses the U.S. In some sick sense, Mexico has been ethnically cleansing its own country and then seeking moral cover for its human rights violations by slurring as racist the only refuge for its own unwanted who often were fleeing endemic racist attitudes.
The Obama-age progressive political narrative was that an old, too-white America was changing largely due to immigration and that this was a much-needed antidote to oppressive white privilege. Activists proudly pointed to California and New Mexico’s suddenly solidly blue politics and promised that Texas, Colorado and Nevada were soon to follow. In 2008 and 2012 the so-called “Latino vote” went nationally at about 70% for Democratic candidates. This was deemed a noble thing — but in a way 70% of the white vote not voting for a Democratic candidate would have been seen as proof of “racism” and “backlash.” Conservative cynics alleged a cruel cycle: welcome in millions of indigenous people driven from their racist homelands, offer them public assistance by virtue of the Democratic-sponsored welfare state, and teach them that only liberals care for their welfare while insisting that their families remember who were their patrons at the polls. Yet what was surreal about the charge was not Republican crassness in making it, but the shameless acknowledgment by Democrats that they were not only using illegal immigration as a political tool, but should be praised for doing so. They even warned that their success would doom Republicans unless the latter emulated their strategies!
5. Illegal Immigrants
The illegal-immigration movement only recently has sought to finesse its public relations. For a decade illegal immigration was oversold as an arrival of “dreamers,” various future brain surgeons and physicists whose innate talent could now be tapped if only the U.S. would wave the cruel legal details. But illegal aliens are not all dreamers any more than they are all criminals. They are what they are — good, bad, and neither: poor oppressed people who flee racist Third World governments in hopes of jobs and/or U.S. government support, with the further assumption that their illegality, lack of English, absence of education, and dearth of skills and capital will not only not matter, but earn them coveted victim status in the U.S. So far they have been proven prescient.
It is still common to find at immigration rallies thousands of Mexican flags, with far fewer — if any — American flags. Illegal aliens do not just root for visiting Mexican sports teams, but go the extra mile of booing the American opposition.
The message is incoherent: “I will salute the country that drove me out but less so the one that welcomed me in.” In fact, the entire narrative of illegal immigration has become unhinged. The vocabulary of protest is never aimed against the nation that forced them out, only against the one that most generously welcomed them in.
Nowhere is this disconnect more evident than in the university, where two antitheses are promulgated. Even as the various Chicano and Ethnic Studies departments indoctrinate students with the supposedly sinister history of the United States, they simultaneously champion the rights of the illegal aliens to enter, reside, and stay in the odious country they have just damned. The message makes little sense. Millions of Americans have finally caught on to the incoherence, and feel that ingratitude is among the worst of all sins.
It is alleged that Donald Trump is a demagogue who whips the ignorant up. Perhaps. But on matters of immigration he came late and often in antithesis to his own former positions. The truth is that the illegal-immigration lobby was its own worst enemy, its message couched in racism, illegality, untruth — and finally incoherence. People are tired of being called racists by racial chauvinists, of being dubbed insensitive by unfeeling opportunists, and of being called politically naive by political manipulators.
If there were not a Donald Trump, he would likely have had to have been invented.