Crime and the Border

In a return to the issues of yesteryear, once again crime is a major concern of voters. It’s like 1988 all over, complete with references to Willie Horton. Joe Biden’s indifference to the border and his contribution to the recent flood of immigrants—illegal and dubious asylum seekers alike—is also a major gripe of voters, reminiscent of 2016. Rather than being separate issues, rising crime and the border crisis are related.

That crime and border security have some relationship is common sense. Most obviously, illegal aliens have no vetting to speak of and begin their sojourn through our country as fugitives. At least some are returning convicted felons, who had earlier been deported from our country. Further, the widespread poverty, skew towards younger men, and major cultural differences with source countries enhance the likelihood of criminality. 

There is, of course, a significant and growing amount of crime among native-born Americans. This crime is made worse by “no bail” policies, lax prosecutors, and various species of idiotic “criminal justice reforms” after the summer of riots in 2020. 

But these domestic issues are made worse still by the introduction of even more criminals among illegal aliens, a result guaranteed by our lax border enforcement, coupled with the newcomers’ economic, demographic, and cultural differences from the median American. 

The Under-Studied Problem of Immigrant Crime

The prevailing counterargument is that most of these illegal immigrants are good people, here to work. As Jeb Bush infamously said, “Illegal immigration is an act of love.” There is some truth to all of that. Most are not arch-criminals. And almost all of us have some experience with this population, if only through observing the armies of mostly unassuming illegal immigrants working in restaurants, the landscaping and construction trades, and in agriculture. 

That said, their crime rates have not been studied very thoroughly. And, there is little reason to buy the argument that they make up a smaller portion of criminals compared to average Americans. In a manner similar to global warming skepticism, there is no money or incentive in looking at the true state of affairs

For those who enter the country illegally to work, their intrinsic law-abidingness is in doubt. After all, by definition, they have broken our immigration laws. Further, they almost all commit trespassing, identity theft, regular theft, and a variety of other problems, particularly for communities on the border. 

Illegal immigrants and visa holders are easily exploited, as their status prevents them from seeking the usual wage and hour protections, guarantees of worker safety, and the like. The same thing that makes them attractive to employers makes them less likely to report crimes in which they are victims. This also distorts crime statistics, as most crime involving illegal immigrants occurs among people living in the same communities, whether domestic violence, theft, rape, or even murder

The right rate of immigrant crime should be zero. We should not be introducing criminals or deadbeats, legal or illegal. If someone is being introduced into our society, they should make it better and certainly not worse. Saying they’re about the same as the American average, even if true, does not enhance the pro-immigration case. 

Do We Believe Our Country Should Benefit Its People?

We know we cannot be a country with an unregulated border or unlimited immigration. The largest frontier on earth joining a First and Third World country is the southern U.S. border. It is natural that the flow goes almost entirely in one direction. Lately, the border has become a portal not merely for illegal aliens from Mexico, but for dubious asylum claimants from all over the world, as well as drug smugglers, human traffickers, and suspected terrorists

This is a shameful situation. 

The longstanding hesitation to address illegal immigration and the self-righteousness of our political class suggests they do not understand what a country is. A nation is not merely its political structure and creed, but a group of people, who form a large extended family, share a common history, and constitute a community of interest.  

The idea that we are a nation of immigrants is a meaningless collision of concepts and a false consciousness used to justify our erasure as a people. Our country can no more be a nation of immigrants than fire can be cold. Whether in the United States, Sweden, Great Britain, or Argentina, immigrants join an existing, fully formed nation, and they either become a part of it or remain permanent aliens. 

The first step to becoming an American is to respect our laws, identify with our interests, and to make that a primary loyalty, replacing vestigial loyalty to one’s origin group. The recent retreat of many Hispanic Americans, including Mexican Americans, from the Democrats and their divisive gospel of ethnic solidary suggests that this shift may be taking place in a manner similar to the mass defection of ethnic white “Reagan Democrats” from the Democratic Party’s first flirtation with hardcore leftism in the 1960s. 

Democrats had hoped they would get Hispanics to prioritize their political interests as an ethnic bloc rather than their economic interests or concerns for practical issues such as law and order. If this occurred, the Democrats’ coalition would be large and growing. Party leaders hoped the various constituent parts would remain stable and mimic the voting behavior of black Americans and American Jews, whose voting patterns do not vary as dramatically based on economic status as those of the average white voter. 

But it turns out, the “coalition of the ascendent” is fractured, because of the massive gap between leftist policies and the direct, tangible interests of these new Americans and their children. 

Many Hispanic Americans have more in common with other Americans, rather than their coethnics, who make up the illegal immigrant population. Illegal immigrants are not American by definition, and their presence often undercuts the economic and social advancement of the immigrants who have already become citizens. Recent controversies among Hispanic Los Angeles politicians suggest the Democrats’ attempted marriage of black and brown voters is not a natural or happy one, and each group views politics, the country, and each other very differently.

Avoiding the Point of No Return

Every immigrant wave has permanently changed America and its political culture. The New Deal would not have happened without the earlier waves of Southern and Eastern European immigrants, who were not attached to America’s limited government traditions and often gravitated to radical politics, including socialism and anarchism. These newcomers formed the core of the longstanding Democratic coalition, which held strong until 1980.  

Multiculturalism and identity politics flowed from the post-1965 immigration wave, augmented by the massive self-flagellation of WASP America following the civil rights movement. Continuing the post-1965 policies into the future spells trouble, especially for those of us already here, whether we trace our roots to the Mayflower or arrived more recently. 

In many ways, the rise of a hypertrophied political identity is a product not merely of the Left’s aggressiveness, but of our disappearing common culture. We no longer worship the same God, eat the same food, learn the same stories, honor the same heroes, and, in many cases, do not even speak the same language. Without these ties, political disagreements become sharper as the opportunity for consensus and peacemaking is reduced. The whole country is now like Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York, and is barely less violent. 

Change the people, change the country. Following the addition of tens of millions of very diverse newcomers to the country over the last 50 years, a permanent change in our trajectory is guaranteed, as European Americans begin to become a minority within the country. 

Judging by political currents in countries as diverse as Brazil, Hungary, and the U.K., a broad-based rejection of fashionable leftism and its managerial class overseers is becoming a worldwide phenomenon. While the country will not return to its pre-1960s internal cohesion, it can choose paths of greater or lesser degradation and disunity. 

Controlling the border is the first step.  Massively reducing immigration for some reasonable interval, at least 20 years, is the next step. From there, we can begin to reconstitute ourselves as a single people and control our common destiny. 

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About Christopher Roach

Christopher Roach is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and an attorney in private practice based in Florida. He is a double graduate of the University of Chicago and has previously been published by The Federalist, Takimag, Chronicles, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Marine Corps Gazette, and the Orlando Sentinel. The views presented are solely his own.

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

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