How Illegal Immigration Finally Turned Off the Public

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?

1. Race

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.