The United States and Mexico share the largest border between a first and third world country on earth, and Mexico has long been a source of significant illegal immigration. Poverty, high crime, and social problems on the Mexican side lead naturally to movement north, absent strong efforts to prevent it. Think of it as demographic osmosis.
Someone not paying attention might assume, therefore, that the large camps of immigrants appearing suddenly on the U.S.-Mexican border are made up of Mexicans. But the presence of so many different nationalities—Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Middle Easterners, Africans, and now Haitians—is a product of the interplay of refugee law and Mexico’s function as a transit point. Once the migrants make it into the United States, they can claim asylum. Mexico now permits them to transit, though they used to take a harder line, worried about the economic competition with their own people already living in the United States, as well as the impact of such migrants on Mexico itself.
Most of these asylum claims are laughable. These are people fleeing poverty and generally bad conditions, not modern-day political activists, punished for their beliefs by authoritarian regimes. This is why, in those rare cases when such claims are adjudicated, the vast majority are denied. Knowing this, most show up, are given a court date, as well as some temporary legal status, and disappear forever.
It’s merely the simulation of an orderly immigration process.
Biden’s Policies Invite Migrants
In response to a similar border surge in 2019, Trump did something logical: If the people fleeing to safety face no persecution in the countries of transit, why do they need to go further to the United States itself to make their claims? He required any asylum seeker to apply at American consulates in Mexico or in one of the other transit countries, rather than being given immediate legal status once they arrived in the United States. This was the “Remain in Mexico” policy. It reduced the pressure on the southern border from people from all over the world who were trying to get into the United States.
Biden reversed this policy. Then, he put an immigration weakling, Alejandro Mayorkas, in charge of DHS. Predictably, illegal immigration has surged under Biden. Now, instead of dealing with the problem, our brain-dead ruling class is responding with a media outcry at the desperate efforts of the Border Patrol to control this surge.
One wishes the media would talk more about the Haitians hijacking buses. This shows not only violent criminality, but zero gratitude to the United States for its insane, but undeniably generous, policies. This news is in keeping with other predictable developments, including the rise of Haitian gangs in Miami after the mass influx in the 1990s.
As I have discussed before, Afghan immigration to Europe has also led to a rise in violent crime, particularly a series of horrific rapes. Ignoring this recent history, Biden bragged last month about bringing in 100,000 Afghan refugees to the United States. Thirteen service members died for this dubious humanitarian effort. Now, at least two of these refugees, in the United States less than a month, have been arrested for sex crimes. Afghanistan and Haiti are different countries with different problems and cultures, but neither is an improvement on that of the United States.
Of course, living in Florida, I have met assimilated Haitians, many of whom are models of dignity and good citizenship. This is the promise of immigration: that talented people flourish here, people whose talents would go to waste in their homelands. This is undoubtedly true in a number of cases, but surely it cannot be true on average, or Haiti itself would be a model of dignity and good government. It is the opposite, and the “magic dirt” of America cannot raise most of these newcomers immediately to the level of the average American. Surely nothing about the process at work in Del Rio suggests we are sifting through the mass of migrants to find the diamonds.
The implications are maddeningly obvious. Haiti is a violent, poorly run country. It has had numerous coups, counter-coups, massive corruption, and decrepit infrastructure since its bloody origins in the mass massacre and mass rape of their erstwhile French masters. This violent history has continued up to the present day, as one faction has apparently hired some mercenaries to kill Haiti’s president. Two of those involved were Haitian-Americans from Miami.
On what basis would anyone assume that Haitians, any more than Afghans, would not tend to make our country resemble their home countries as they become more numerous? We have seen this before in more benign ways. This is why there are Chinatowns and Little Havanas.
But does America really benefit from a Kabultown or a Little Port-au-Prince?
As with real osmosis, when foreigners come into the United States, they will continue to do so until conditions in the destination reach equilibrium with the source.
A Nation of Clichés
Our immigration debate is replete with clichés, such as the idea that “America is a nation of immigrants” or that massive immigration is “good for the economy.” As with discussions of diversity, the details of actual immigration, including widely varying levels of human flourishing around the globe and the consequences for existing American citizens, are absent. We talk in abstractions, rather than recognizing that the particulars of the world’s peoples have much to do with the conditions of their home countries and portend similar conditions for our own.
We also do not talk about numbers. The world is a big place, with almost 8 billion people at the moment. Our country only has about 4 percent of the world’s population. Many of those other 7.7 billion people would like to come here. And the population in the Third World is growing at a much faster rate than ours at home.
What is the optimal population of the United States? Today it’s about 330 million, of whom 10 million (likely many more) are reportedly illegal. Without immigration following the 1965 Hart Cellar law, the American population would be pretty flat. Almost all of the growth above 260 million or so is driven by immigration since 1965, legal and illegal, and their progeny. Would America be better off if 500 million people lived here? A billion? Would it remain the same nation if one third of the country were foreign born (it’s presently 14 percent)? Would life be better for your children if that came to pass?
Not wanting to look at too much reality, we retreat into familiar debates born of domestic politics. After the summer of anti-police riots, now we discuss endlessly whether our Border Patrol, who have a thankless job, are being sufficiently gentle with those who have broken our laws and entered our nation uninvited. The people who talked endlessly of treason and foreign collusion now care nothing about national honor. They will say nothing when some of these people become violent criminals five minutes after entering our country.
The tone of these discussions does not demonstrate that we have a serious ruling class or a serious country. A country is made up of its citizens residing on its land. Its leaders are duty bound to look out for their welfare, not that of the whole world. Just as your home would be a different place if you added a bunch of strangers, so too is it with a country.
Before we let in even one more immigrant, we should ask, “Who are we letting in? And for whose benefit?”