Administrative State • Democrats • Department of Homeland Security • Donald Trump • Immigration • Law and Order • Post

After AOC’s Toilet Hysteria, Real Abuse at the Border Is Ignored

The immigration problem today demands a serious debate about how to remedy the situation for the good of the country and its citizens. What we get instead are misleading images and scandalous, politically-motivated allegations. Not surprisingly, the problems continue to worsen. 

The rhetoric boiled over recently when Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) visited a border detention facility in Texas and proclaimed that migrants were being abused there. Among her more sensational claims was that migrants were being forced to drink water from toilets. 

The charge was quickly debunked by Border Patrol agents who explained that the facilities use a combination toilet-and-sink fixture that provides potable water to those in custody. No matter, the perception was established among those who wanted to believe the charge: border agents are no better than the guards of Abu Ghraib, sadistic goons who mistreat the less fortunate for their own amusement. This is what passes for policy debate in the 21st century. 

Ocasio-Cortez is correct that children are being abused at the border, but it has nothing to do with the Border Patrol or the Trump Administration. 

In a recent interview, Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, detailed how cartels are “renting children” to “fake families” who use the children to gain entry into the United States. The children are then returned to Mexico or Central America to be “recycled” and used to get more foreign nationals across the border. 

The response to this news from anti-borders advocates is cold indifference, presumably because it doesn’t advance their agenda. Fake photos of migrant children in cages provoke outrage, but a criminal syndicate using children as immigration mules is of no great importance. 

Our border is being overrun because Central Americans have received the message from anti-borders politicians, advocacy groups, and the media: get to the U.S. border with a child in tow and you’re as good as in. Detention facilities are overflowing and after three weeks you will be released into the interior of the country. A hearing date will be set months or years in the future, and there will be no penalty if you fail to appear. Find your way to one of America’s numerous sanctuary cities and you will be shielded from accountability.

Our leaders refuse to address the problem in a serious way because the status quo helps them politically. 

For Democrats, endless migration means the bolstering of a permanent underclass. Poor, low-skilled migrants from developing countries, the theory goes, will make reliable voters for generous welfare programs and the kind of big government largesse that Democrats favor. It is a path to an infinite electoral majority. 

For some Republicans, there is no problem to fix because mass migration means more bodies willing to work for low wages. The fact that flooding the zone with cheap labor will displace American workers is a secondary concern, if it is a concern at all. Businesses will return the favor to anti-borders Republicans in the form of generous campaign donations. In Washington, that’s what’s known as a win-win. The only people who lose in both parties’ machinations are Americans seeking safe communities and the opportunity to earn a living.

If mass migration advocates were truly concerned about the plight of children as they claim, they would reexamine U.S. policies that incentivize foreign nationals to arrive at our border. They would demand a war on the cartels that traffic human beings as commodities and exploit children on a grand scale.  

That neither of these things is happening speaks volumes about the true agenda of those who point their fingers at the purported cruelty of America, while the real humanitarian crisis is ignored. Americans and our neighbors to the south deserve better. 

Photo credit: John Moore/Getty Images

Administrative State • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Democrats • Department of Homeland Security • Donald Trump • Intelligence Community • Post

Who Do Our Intelligence Agencies Think They Work For?

It was a mistake to disband the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1945, just months after we had won World War II.

Within just two years, President Truman realized he had to have a permanent intelligence capability and so in 1947 he signed the National Security Act, which, in addition to creating the National Security Council as the highest national security policymaking body in the U.S. government, created the Central Intelligence Agency out of the ashes of the OSS.

Since 1947, the U.S. Intelligence Community has grown and grown. Originally it was given the task of collecting intelligence on our Cold War adversaries. After the September 11 attacks, it was expanded and reorganized to include today’s 17 agencies.

But whether it was just the OSS during the war, or the 17 federal agencies we have today, the mission of the American intelligence was always the same: to provide its sole client with raw intelligence and analysis so that he can make his decisions on how best to secure America and her citizens. That end-user, of course, is the incumbent president.  

This week’s “Fake News” swirling around the Director of National Intelligence’s (DNI) testimony before Congress on his annual “National Worldwide Threat Assessment” isn’t simply dishonest. It is dangerous.

While Capitol Hill has the mandate to exercise its oversight function—and should use it—over the executive branch, the IC does not work for Congress. In fact, it exists solely to support the national security policies and decision-making requirements of the commander-in-chief. As such, the reports that the testimony of DNI Dan Coates, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Chris Wray contradicted or undermined the president are not simply wrong-footed, they are reckless in the extreme.

In America, we do not have independent intelligence agencies functioning as fiefdoms unto themselves, with their own political agendas. The idea that a federal agency designed to serve the legitimate head of state can and should openly undermine the executive may be par for the course in Latin America, Africa, or parts of Asia, but it is counter both to our Constitution and the traditions upon which America is founded and how it is secured from external attack and internal subversion.  

CIA and DIA veteran Fred Fleitz, who served most recently as chief-of-staff to National Security Advisor John Bolton, put it succinctly in his response to the media frenzy: “America’s intelligence agencies were not created to publicly criticize or offer rebuttals to the president’s foreign-policy initiatives. They are not supposed to be a ‘check’ on presidential decision-making—that is Congress’s role.”

I do not believe that Coates or Haspel were, in fact, attempting to undermine the president. But I do know they did not write their own testimony and that both the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA have yet to fully recover from the Obama years.

Remember, John Brennan, an avowed Communist who voted for the Communist Party USA’s presidential candidate in 1976, before he joined the CIA, was elevated to the director of that agency by Barack Obama. Brennan used his power to press then-FBI Director James Comey to launch a politically motivated investigation of the Trump campaign based solely upon Russian-sourced opposition research paid for by Hillary Clinton’s lawyers and the Democratic National Committee. Obama’s director of national intelligence, General James Clapper, likewise left a trail of politically motivated malfeasance, not least of which was his committing perjury in front of Congress over whether or not the NSA illegally spies on American citizens.

Although Haspel and Coates are both honorable public servants who, by all evidence and appearance, share none of the vices of Brennan and Clapper, the two years of the Trump Administration have been too short a time to rid our mammoth intelligence community structure of those who believe that their alleged expertise gives them an extra-constitutional right to subvert an elected president with whom they have policy disagreements. In the meantime, President Trump remains our 45th commander-in-chief, elected by the sovereign people of the United States according to their Constitution. The intelligence community still works him, and he should remain extremely wary of it.

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Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Administrative State • America • Center for American Greatness • Deep State • Department of Homeland Security • Donald Trump • Government Reform • Law and Order • Post • Russia • The Constitution

The FBI Has Become Too Dangerous

If you’re not the first lady, being alone in the Oval Office with the president of the United States is a rare occurrence. Even visiting heads of state will be accompanied by an interpreter, or an official notetaker, when they meet privately with the most powerful man in the world.

So I will never forget the day, in June 2017, when I found myself in front of the Resolute Desk, with just President Donald Trump in the room with me.

I was there for something that pertained to my job as strategist to the president—if memory serves, it was to discuss our plan to undo the 44th president’s disastrous Iran Deal—when the topic of Russia came up.

Suddenly the president stopped, looked at me, and said: “They will find nothing because there is nothing.”

Since he shared that declaration with me, good men like General Mike Flynn have been charged with process crimes, shady characters like Paul Manafort have been convicted of wire fraud, and young men such as George Papadopoulos have served time in federal prison as a result of their foolish self-aggrandizing. Yet, none of the charges made or convictions brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller have linked the activities of the Trump campaign with the Kremlin, which of course, was Mueller’s mandate.

Two years later, at a reported cost of well over $25 million, not one charge or conviction has proven the original allegation of “Russian collusion.” At any other time, this would have led otherwise reasonable people to say: Enough! Time for Mueller and his team—a dozen of whom are registered Democrat donors—to close shop and for the former FBI director to end what President Trump justifiably has called a “witch hunt.”

Instead, the Left, and the Left’s domesticated media, have escalated their attacks.

Monday, as the president was preparing to board Marine One on the North Lawn, Kristen Welker, a member of the White House Press Corps working for NBC, actually asked him whether he is working for Russia.

This following a New York Times story, in which we learned that the FBI’s leadership initiated an investigation into the president after he fired James Comey, positing that he was, in fact, an agent of the Kremlin.

President Trump was right to call Welker’s question disgraceful. But we must go further.

First, there is the issue of facts. After two years in which Donald Trump as president has raised the defense budget, sent anti-tank missiles to the government of Ukraine, scolded NATO nations for not taking the threat from Russia seriously and encouraging them to keep their commitments to the alliance, as well as authorizing the killing of more than 200 Russian paramilitary “contractors” in Syria. How can any sane person who values the truth—and her own professional integrity as a journalist—even ask such a ridiculous and surreal question?

But there is an even more serious question, one that raises the specter of sedition at the highest levels of our republic.

As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy noted on my show, “America First,” the FBI is part of the executive branch and its mandate to execute counterintelligence investigations serves one person and one person alone: the incumbent president.

McCarthy, remember, helped put the mastermind of the first World Trade Center attack, Omar Abdel Rahman (the Blind Sheik), behind bars. As he has written time and again, counterintelligence operations are not exercises in evidence gathering designed to lead to a prosecution of a crime in a federal court. They are instead secret activities designed to provide the chief executive with information on what enemy nations or inimical non-state actors are doing to the country so that the president can direct responses to the threat, be it from Soviet agents during the Cold War, or ISIS terrorists here in America today.

This is not what happened in 2017.

Instead, a rogue FBI decided unilaterally to investigate the newly elected president in order to undermine him—rather than serve the elected official who bears ultimate responsibility for the safety of all Americans. Never before in our history has this happened.

The FBI has had problems since the days of J. Edgar Hoover. But never has the seventh floor of FBI Headquarters decided by itself to launch a clandestine operation to target a newly elected president under the cover of working for an alien power simply because they wanted political revenge for their candidate losing an election. Yet this is exactly what happened. Instead of being horrified, the establishment perpetuates the outré assertions day in and day out to further weaken the president.

So what is to be done?

Given the last two years of continued assaults against President Trump by Mueller and Obama-holdovers such as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the confirmation of a new attorney general might not be enough.

There may be one solution that preserves the patriotic agents who are protecting the nation while helping drain the Beltway swamp: dissolve the FBI, fire all the senior political operators still in the Hoover Building, and make the 56 FBI field offices across the nation—where the real agents work—the counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigations division of the Department of Homeland Security.

This way we may prevent the next palace coup.

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Photo credit: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post

America • California • Department of Homeland Security • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Immigration • Post

The Military’s Most Important Role Is Border Defense

Our country has been thrust into a scene out of The Camp of the Saints: a large caravan of migrants organized in Honduras is streaming towards our southern border proclaiming the right to enter and work in our country. They’re not invited, nor is this legal, but they are seizing their destiny (and ours) as pueblos sin fronteras, “workers without borders.”

The Fourth Generation Threat to National Sovereignty
Some have scoffed at the description of this “caravan” as an invasion, dismissing it as right-wing hyperbole. But what is the difference? Formal or informal, through modern armies or tribal warriors, invasions are objects of concern because they determine who controls a land and its resources.

Post-Westphalia, states and their professional armies became dominant; noncombatants were mostly off limits. Tribal warriors gave way to professional soldiers. Armies would cross borders, leaders would change, and the peasants would go about their affairs mostly with indifference. Then nationalism appeared on the scene. It tapped into a deep emotional well, the abiding quest for community. National leadership was perceived as more legitimate, more in line with the ethos of the governed, and thus naturally less burdensome. Various choices a state and its leaders face—what language to speak, which religions to respect, which heroes to honor—are less disruptive when there is an alignment of political borders and national culture. The natural justice of nationalism was one of the reasons it became a formula for peace between nations and happiness within them.

Before nation-states, the alternatives included: multinational empires, nations without states, and nations divided among dozens of indefensible statelets. In the past, as now, there were transnational allegiances—religion, language, ethnicity—and there were local allegiances, as well. But the nation-state proved, until recently, the most legitimate and powerful mode of political organization.

Much of the literature about “fourth-generation warfare” recognizes that nation-states and their authority are under threat, diminished by global and transnational forces—powerful multinational corporations, mass migration, and international religious movements—as well as competing, less hierarchical organizations, such as terrorist cells and criminal gangs.

This destruction of state authority is not completely apparent within our borders, but it appears dramatically so elsewhere.

Who runs Mexico, for example? Is it the government? And, if so, which part of it? Clearly the Mexican government is, at best, only nominally in charge, having given up on stopping the caravan after a pro forma attempt to assert sovereignty and placate its stronger neighbor.

The U.S. Military Can Be Legally Deployed on the Border
Threats to nation-states, including military threats, are not limited to other states and their militaries. The U.S. military spent the better part of the 19th century fighting pirates and hostile Indians, only briefly becoming a modern conscript force during the Civil War. The army reverted to its heritage as a frontier constabulary thereafter. More recently, the military has been fighting a plethora of nonstate enemies, especially Islamic Jihadist groups and drug cartels. Yet, unlike the earlier Indian Wars, nearly all of this activity takes place today overseas.

Before its growth and dominance in the two world wars, the U.S. military was focused inward, operating almost exclusively within U.S. territories and on the border. In addition to the Indian wars, it played a large role in occupying the defeated South. The latter proved controversial, however, ushering in strong limits against the employment of the military in domestic “law enforcement” through the Posse Comitatus Act.

But just because the military operates domestically does not mean it is engaged in law enforcement. Using the military on the border is as American as the Constitution, which provides: “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

The divorce of the military from border defense—an artifact of World War II and the subsequent Cold War—should be considered more critically.

No one saw a conflict between Posse Comitatus and the deployment of troops in a string of forts along the border with Mexico to deter and punish incursions. This use of the army in border security culminated in Black Jack Pershing’s 1916 punitive expedition against Pancho Villa. Thereafter, the military focused almost exclusively on overseas threats from nation-states, particularly in Europe, mostly ceding its role at the border to a law enforcement agency in 1924 when the Border Patrol was created.

In the 1950s, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed massive illegal immigration from Mexico, the military demurred. Historian Matt Matthews, in his excellent paper on the deployment of the army on the Mexican border, described the decision as follows:

In 1954, U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell launched Operation WETBACK, a major coordinated effort to round up and expel illegal aliens. Hoping to reinforce the Border Patrol, Brownell turned to the U.S. Army for help. To his dismay, the proposal was rejected. The Army claimed such an operation would “seriously disrupt training programs at a time when the administration’s economy slashes were forcing the service to drastically cut its strength. Army generals also opposed the idea because a division would be needed just to begin to control the influx, while sealing off the border would require even more troops.”

The Military Must Reorient Itself to National Defense
While renaming itself the Department of Defense in 1947, the old Department of War was far more concerned with immediate national defense. The post-war military prepared to refight World War II in many respects, devoting its training and equipment to countering a conventional threat, the Soviet Union. The wars we actually fought, particularly the one in Vietnam, deviated from this plan, as the fighting tended to be counterinsurgencies against mostly unconventional enemies.

As with border protection, counterinsurgency did not align with the large conventional military’s ethos and strengths. It had inherent ambiguity and required the skills of the soldier, as well as the teacher, policeman, engineer, and social worker. After Vietnam, the military refocused on confronting the Soviets, ditching much of its hard-won counterinsurgency wisdom. This culminated in a big victory in the first Gulf War, but thereafter—whether in Somalia, Iraq, or Afghanistan—the U.S. military found itself facing unconventional threats for which its training, doctrine, and equipment have yielded mostly inconclusive results.

This institutional resistance from the Pentagon to countering unconventional, transnational threats has not dissipated, in spite of the loss in Vietnam and the inconclusive results of the long War on Terror. The military continues to buy expensive weaponry mostly useless against guerillas and criminals, while pivoting its doctrine and training towards conflicts with “near peer” competitors. This reboot is happening even though international gangs, illegal aliens, and insurgents have killed far more Americans than any Russian soldier ever did, and even though the majority of wars we have fought since World War II have been “low-intensity conflicts.”

The creation of a Department of Homeland Security in wake of the 9/11 attacks should have been far more controversial than it was. If we needed such a department, what the hell was the Department Defense doing?

The Pentagon was devoted to preparing for a conventional war. But such conventional conflict is mostly avoidable and highly unlikely—not least because of the possibility of escalation to nuclear war—even as unavoidable and extant fourth-generation conflict is already here, most dramatically in the immigration caravan.

Trump’s call for the military to stop the caravan and protect the border—along with his call for the wall—are controversial because they call into question the entire paradigm of our foreign policy experts and the related “defense” apparatus. His “America First” policies aim to provide a tangible benefit to America and its people, as opposed to pursuing purely global interests such as “stability” and “influence.”

Playing whack-a-mole with mobile terrorists, massive forward deployment of U.S. forces, and occasional brinkmanship with Russia and China have proven to be expensive dead ends. By contrast, the application of military power and a sophisticated wall along a defined frontier leverages the power of the state against non-state actors. It surely can work; it’s a question of will and resources. It worked for Israel, which effectively shut down the problem of far-more-motivated Palestinian terrorists through a sophisticated wall.

Non-state actors threaten our country, but they cannot take on our military power head on. Our poorly protected southern border and Byzantine protection for dubious “refugees” benefits big business, the Democratic Party, and illegal immigrants themselves, but this neglect of the border comes at a high price to American citizens. The flow of mere economic migrants provides a crowd in which dangerous groups can hide. Moreover, the steady flow of illegal aliens represents a cumulative threat to our national sovereignty, prosperity, and unity.

Our military and political leaders must adapt to the times. The reluctance to use the military on the border comes from the obsolete paradigm of a world where nation-states have a “monopoly on force.”

Yet many historically transformative invasions were not by uniformed militaries and may not have even been particularly violent. The first English colonists in North America came as religious farmers seeking peace. At first, they had peaceful relations with native tribes, which we celebrate on Thanksgiving. The barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire were as much an immigration phenomenon as they were a military invasion. Whether violent or not, the result in each of these cases was the same: displacement of the existing people and their way of life.

Before political correctness stifled common sense, it was common to say, “If we hadn’t won World War II we’d all be speaking German.” This metaphor spoke to something deep and powerful: the fear of feeling like a stranger in the land of your birth. Today, in many parts of the country, you need to know Spanish just to get by; Germans and Frenchmen are now finding their streets filled with the sounds of Arabic and Turkish. These shifts in linguistic unity signal a broader disunity, the fruits of massive, unrestrained, and unassimilable levels of immigration.

The caravan forces us to face a very important question: does the state and the military protect the nation and their way of life?

A nation without borders will not long exist. President Trump, with his uncommon common sense, knows this, but his subordinates are reluctant to change course. The military’s own history, however, and the history of every defeated army on earth, should provide a ready source of wisdom: militaries lose when they are preparing to fight the last war. A new type of invasion is manifest, and it calls for a new type of military, one at home on the border.

Photo Credit: Caitlin O’Hara/AFP/Getty Images

Department of Homeland Security • Identity Politics • Immigration • Post • The Left

Why Do We Keep Calling Illegal Aliens ‘Undocumented’?

Cristhian Rivera, who entered America illegally from his native Mexico, is charged with first-degree murder in the brutal killing of college student Mollie Tibbetts in Iowa. Yet few news organizations call him an illegal alien or an illegal immigrant. They either call him “undocumented” or avoid drawing attention to his illegal status.

The terms “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” are considered too harsh and too politically incorrect by the mainstream media arbiters of good taste.

“Undocumented” is so much more polite. It makes it sound like a man stopped by police simply left his driver’s license in another pair of pants at home, or a woman traveling lost her passport when her purse was stolen.

No, don’t say these folks are illegal entrants at all – just say they don’t have their documents handy.

This is absurd and seeks to minimize the fact that people are breaking the law every day by entering the U.S. from Mexico and elsewhere without authorization. And many have documents – as Rivera did – but the documents are fake or stolen.

As the Washington Post reported Wednesday: “Yarrabee Farms manager Dane Lang said Rivera provided a state-issued photo identification and a Social Security card when he applied for a job nearly four years ago.

Read the rest in Fox News.

Photo Credit: Fox News

America • Democrats • Department of Homeland Security • Donald Trump • GOPe • Greatness Agenda • History • Immigration • Political Parties • Post • self-government • The Constitution • The Culture • The Left • The Resistance (Snicker)

America Is Not the Common Property of All Mankind


Sometimes fate tosses you a softball.

Recently, I drafted an op-ed asking whether the United States actually needs more people. Is 320 million—give or take, given the birthrates of those already here—enough? If not, why not? If we need more people, why? What do we need them to do? The editorial process being what it is, it took a few days for the piece to appear.

And it just so happens that, when it did, Bret Stephens published a column in the New York Times purporting to answer precisely the question I had asked. The United States needs more immigrants, he claims. A lot more.

Much of what Stephens wrote, I had already “pre-butted,” as it were. Open borders arguments are all so old and stale that they’re easy to anticipate. Still, to give Stephens some credit, he did come up with some new ones. Or rather, he stated more openly than I am used to seeing certain implicit arguments that the open borders crowd until recently used to be more cagey about expressing.

I don’t know what explains their greater boldness now. It could be that they think they are on the cusp of victory, so caution is no longer necessary. I doubt this, however, given the 2016 election and moving of the Overton Window on the topic. A more likely explanation is that the open borders crowd is panicking. Before Trump’s stunning victory, mass amnesty coupled with even laxer border enforcement (if such were even possible) seemed likely to tip the country blue permanently. Now they sense that may be slipping away—or, at a minimum, may be delayed.

The populace is roused. For the first time in a generation, it actually has political leaders trying to act in their interest. That is intolerable to the open borders crowd, which is reacting with fury and hysteria. Witness the disgraceful Red Guard heckling of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen out of a public restaurant—and the restaurant’s management doing nothing about it. Another restaurant’s owner kicked out the president’s press secretary. And there is the far more disgraceful—downright evil—doxing of federal immigration agents by a university professor, to encourage left-wing brownshirts to harm civil servants and their families.

Who Should Go?
It is fair to ask what role the increasingly extreme rhetoric of Bret Stephens (and of others who share his views) has contributed to this. For instance, one of Stephens’ previous columns recommended expelling native-born American citizens to make room for more immigrants. He declined to say exactly which American citizens need to go; presumably not himself nor any of his friends and associates.

Who then? In a grotesque-yet-clever bit of sophistry, Stephens unfavorably compares the native-born to immigrants across a range of pathologies and finds us wanting. For instance, the native-born “are incarcerated at nearly twice the rate of illegal immigrants.” What accounts for that? Stephens doesn’t specify, but surely knows, that crime rates vary widely by race. The rate among blacks, for instance, is eight or nine times the rate among whites, depending on the offense. The white rate is much lower than the illegal immigrant rate (and the Asian rate is lower still). Hence that “nearly twice the rate” that Stephens cites is very largely driven by black Americans. Whatever one may say about the tragic problems afflicting black communities, they are unquestionably Americans, whose roots in this land stretch back to 1619 and whose experience includes, in Lincoln’s poignant phrase, “two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil.”

Stephens makes a similar point about illegitimacy—and similarly fails to mention that the black and Hispanic illegitimacy rates drive the overall U.S. rate that he finds so deplorable. The white and Asian rates are, again, far lower than the immigrant rate.

So: is Stephens suggesting that blacks be expelled from America? That Hispanics be deported en masse? That’s where the logic of his argument inexorably leads, as he also surely knows. But we readers surely know—and are meant to know—this is not what he means. Talk of expelling “people of color” from the land of their birth, from a country in which they are citizens, is unthinkable anywhere in today’s respectable discourse. Covertly using the problems of such people as a cudgel with which to bash the demographic group that Stephens really hates—that’s OK!

When Mark Twain unfavorably compared statistics to “damned lies,” this kind of sophistry is what he was talking about.

This expulsion meme has become popular among the neocons.

Naïvecons and Their Contempt for Middle America
Can we pause for a moment? It’s high time to admit that there is no longer anything conservative, if there ever was, about the current crop of “neoconservatives.” About the founding generation—absolutely. They helped to revolutionize social science and win the Cold War, among many other achievements. Their work will stand tall and hold up for decades to come, I predict.

But today’s crop is, or has relapsed into being, leftists pure and simple—ideologically and practically. Ideologically, they all want open borders and unending immigration. Try as they might to invent one, there is no “conservative case” for a social experiment this vast, risky, and transformative. Practically, they make common cause with the left every day, in every way, to demonize their former friends and to prevent conservative policy from being enacted.

They need a new name. I’m fond of “naïvecon” myself. The only flaw I see with it is that it retains the “con,” which they manifestly don’t deserve. I remain open to suggestion.

Anyway, as I was saying, the expulsion meme has become popular among the naïvecons. They are increasingly frank about who they’d like to expel: the more rural you are, the redder your state (not to mention your neck), the lower your income, the more working class your background, the more you cling to guns and God, the more you vote Republican, the more you deserve the boot.

American columnists, in prestige American journals, daydreaming about forced, mass population transfers: this is ugly stuff, even as a joke. But coming from where it comes, it raises no eyebrows. No price is paid. For those on the actual Right, a single ill-chosen word can end a career and ruin a life. Merely arguing that the United States enforce existing laws is to be called a Nazi, heckled in public, and picketed at one’s home. But the pro-illegal immigrant, anti-native-born Left can vent their spleens and prosper.

The one thing I will say for the current year’s naïvecon boldness: it’s clarifying. Now we know where we all stand. Trump voters, take heed: Bret Stephens and his friends hate you. They despise you. They hold you in contempt. They want you kicked out of your own country and replaced by foreigners. They are your enemy.

As we have seen, Stephens occasionally (but less and less) attempts to give his animosity a statistical gloss. His most recent column is a case in point. If he can’t actually expel the people he despises, he will do the next best thing and overwhelm them with newcomers who, he insists, deserve to be here more than they do.

Naïvecons’ Arguments for More Immigrants
Stephens gives six reasons why the United States “needs” more immigrants. Three I dealt with in my earlier column, one I was aware of but didn’t have the space to treat, another is just a recapitulation of Stephens’ contempt for the native-born, and the other, while not new, is a clearer statement of a certain idea than I have ever seen.

Declining Fertility: Stephens begins with fertility. He asserts that high fertility is good without saying why. Is high fertility always better? Stephens points to the shopworn example of Japan, making the tired point about Japan’s “economic decline.”

Let’s go through this in order. It is certainly true that sustained low fertility can be bad for a nation. But the United States is not anywhere near that point and in fact—as I noted in my earlier piece—remains near the top of fertility rates in the developed world. Yes, some of that is owing to immigration, but birthrates for the native-born are also higher here than in other developed countries.

Malthus may have been wrong in a lot of particulars, but he was surely right that no land—no finite territory with finite resources—can sustain unending population growth in perpetuity. One of the reasons—perhaps the reason—foreigners want to come to America is because their homelands are overcrowded, resources so stressed by population growth, that living standards remain very low, and in some cases even have declined. (The Philippines and Egypt are two examples of the this.)

This is not to say that America’s birth rate is perfect as-is. And I will acknowledge that it appears to be trending downward. But Stephens does not acknowledge—perhaps he does not know—that this trend is universal throughout the developed world. The richer and more technologically advanced a population becomes, the fewer babies it has. This trend transcends race, culture, religion, region and any factor you can think of. Even theocratic but relatively sophisticated Iran has a low—and falling—birthrate. (I recommend the fine work of Jonathan Last on these points.)

Stephens similarly says nothing about the effects of feminism and the Sexual Revolution, which arguably have done more than all the riches in the world to suppress birth rates—by delaying marriage, decoupling procreation from sex, and emphasizing career over family.

How then can immigration reverse the worldwide downward trend? There are only two possible outcomes. Either the immigrants will assimilate to developed world norms and consumption levels, in which case their birth rates will decline along with the rest of the developed world and we will be back where we started. Or they won’t, in which case the more foreign-born America becomes, it will also become less developed, less technologically advanced, less rich. But, hey, at least our birth rates will be high! Is that the America Stephens wants?

Perhaps there is a third possibility: somehow, we come up with the precise mix of policy fixes and cultural messaging to reverse the birth dearth in the developed world. But if we figure out how to do that, then we don’t need immigrants for the purpose.

Whichever of these outcomes you think most likely doesn’t matter. They all negate Stephens’ argument.

Nor does Stephens acknowledge immigration’s effects in driving native birth rates down. Immigration pushes down wages by increasing the supply of labor. Poorer people, to the extent that they are responsible, have fewer children. Immigration pushes up housing prices and rents by increasing demand. Americans, at least since the Lower East Side went hipster, prefer not to cram children into two-room railroad flats. They want space. When they can’t afford it, they have fewer kids. Immigration stresses public schools by filling them with non-English speakers who must consume a disproportionate share of time and resources. This further bids up housing prices in public school districts without, or with fewer of, such problems, or else forces parents who can’t or don’t want to move to pay for expensive private schools. And, again, more expensive means fewer kids.

Regarding Japan’s alleged “economic decline”: Compared to what? The peak of the Tokyo property bubble in 1989? Certainly, Japan’s growth rate over the past quarter century has been lackluster compared with America’s. But—apart from the Great Recession, when the whole world’s economy temporarily contracted—Japan has not actually declined. Per capita GDP remains behind America’s, but when measured not against the whole population but per working-age adult—a key measure of productivity—Japan’s is higher than ours. Perhaps that has something to do with Japan’s relative lack of hedge fund and high-tech oligarchs whose titanic fortunes inflate America’s economic statistics while doing nothing for American workers. Consider also that CEO pay in Japan averages one-tenth that of their American counterparts.

Anecdotally, let me add that I’ve been to Japan a number of times as a tourist and on business. The country looks remarkably “first world” with a very advanced economy, well-developed goods and services, superb infrastructure (better than ours), and technology that makes parts of our country look like the Flintstones compared to their Jetsons. Standards of living are very high, with one major exception: living space. Japan’s birthrate is indeed low. But wouldn’t raising it exacerbate that particular problem? Which in any case is overwhelmingly the result of geography: it’s hard to house more than 100 million people in a rocky archipelago. Perhaps—in addition to the downward pressures experienced in all advanced nations—Japan’s fertility rate is dropping also owing to the Japanese people’s sentiment that their country got a mite too crowded and they’d prefer a little more space.

In any case, Japan is very far from the dystopia that Stephens and the rest of the open borders crowd so often portray it. If a future more like Japan in key respects is what we Americans can expect from getting immigration under control, sign me up.

Societal Aging: The second reason Stephens cites for needing more immigrants—societal aging—is really just a restatement of his first. Low birth rates lead to aging societies. Once again, he doesn’t say why this is bad. But this argument is made so often that we know where it leads. The implication is that we “need” more workers to shore up our entitlement system. This argument fails on a number of levels. First, those who study entitlements most closely insist that the system is unsustainable even with a vastly larger U.S. population. Promised benefits are too generous, they kick in too early, the Baby Boomer generation is too large, and modern lifespans are too long. We could cram 600 million people into the United States and still not solve the problem.

But we would create a lot of other problems!

This points to the second reason this argument fails. It implicitly accepts (some actually make it explicit) that, unreformed, Social Security and other entitlements are Ponzi schemes. In other words, unreformed, they only “work” so long as workers (the young) always outnumber retirees (the old). Always. In other words, they work only so long as the population never stops growing. Never. Does a future America in which the population is counted in the billions sound good to you? Do you think the carrying capacity of the 50 states and their resources is infinite? You don’t have to be Malthusian to see that answer to both is an emphatic “No!”

It’s both obvious and tautological that any finite space can only house so many people. Even if you are willing to accept dramatic declines in living standards (which overpopulation would certainly cause), you eventually run out of space, water, clean air, food and the land on which to grow it, to support a population at any standard of living. Endless population growth, then, cannot possibly be the solution to the entitlement problem. At some point sanity, necessity and self-interest all require that the American population stabilize. We will have to come up with a way to solve our fiscal problems without endlessly increasing the population.

Third, taxing working immigrants to finance the retirements of the native-born is to invite social strife, to say the least. In an increasingly balkanized country—something the left seems to seek, by constantly pushing open borders and attacking assimilation—ethnic and other groups increasingly see themselves as loyal above all to their group and indifferent to, if not suspicious of, other groups. Intergenerational wealth transfers only work if the whole citizenry conceives of itself as one body, one group. Otherwise, such transfers can breed resentment. The more the U.S. population embraces identity politics, the more younger generations will ask of American retirees “Why am I paying for your condo in Boca?” The native-born young are already beginning to ask this question. If we keep the borders open to finance entitlements, that sentiment will not only increase but increasingly take on a racialist tone. How is it fair that poor people of color subsidize rich whites?

Finally, even if we could solve the fiscal deficits of our entitlement programs through immigration (or other means), those programs would still pose political problems that demand reform. The extent to which entitlements and the expectations they arouse have corrupted our politics is considerable and cannot be overcome by even the most effective fiscal solution.

Jobs Americans “Won’t Do”: From here, Stephens moves on to the most tired cliché of all: crops rotting in the fields!

No, really: “The New American Economy think tank estimates that the number of farm workers fell by 20 percent between 2002 and 2014, accounting for $3 billion a year in revenue losses.” Far be it from me to question the veracity, methodology or motive of a study from a think tank founded and paid for by billionaires-for-open-borders. Instead, I will merely ask the following: did those $3 billion in “revenue losses” in any way translate to famine, malnutrition, food shortages or even hunger in America? Because if so, I missed it. Or was that $3 billion merely potential profits that big ag had to forgo because farmers couldn’t pound down wages low enough?

Either way, the period under discussion was hardly one of low immigration. For all 12 of those years, the executive branch was run by two presidents determined to encourage as much immigration as possible and to do nothing to secure the border or enforce U.S. law. Even with that calculated laxity and commensurately high levels of legal and illegal immigration, crops still rotted in the fields, according to the cited study. It’s enough to make you wonder if there are enough farm workers in the entire world sufficient to collect all those crops allegedly out there rotting.

Immigrants Won’t Repopulate the Heartland: Stephens’ fourth argument is we need people to repopulate dying small towns in the heartland. But surely Stephens knows that immigrants concentrate in coastal cities (“coast” being defined more broadly to include the Gulf and the Great Lakes) and venture into the heartland only when steered there by Big Ag. The same forces depopulating the heartland apply just as much to immigrants as to the native-born. Which is why immigrants prefer blue megalopolises (among other reasons).

And, like the crops-rotting-in-the-field canard, this proposition is also testable. America has been welcoming millions of legal and illegal immigrants per year since the 1965 Immigration Act. Where have those people mostly settled? Not the heartland. And throughout this period that same heartland steadily has been depopulating. If immigration were the key to repopulating it, how could that be?

Do We Have Too Few Immigrants? The Moral Case: Stephens’ fifth argument is the most revealing. He finds the immigrant share of the population too low. He does not say why that is bad, or why a higher share is good. He simply compares the current share to the late 19th century Ellis Island peak, finds the latter higher, and asserts that this alone proves the former is wanting.

Underlying the assumption that the U.S. population must have always have a high proportion of immigrants is an implicit (and increasingly explicit) claim that the moral legitimacy of the United States rests on its treatment of immigrants. If and when we take a lot, we are good. When we don’t, we are bad. This view would require us to condemn large periods of American history, including a great many American heroes who expressed reservations about unchecked immigration.

I expect that, after the last Confederate statue falls, the immigration skeptics will be next. Shall we blast Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt off Mount Rushmore—our American Buddhas of Bamiyan? We will also have to either discard or retcon America’s stunning victory in World War II, coming as it did during a 40-year immigration moratorium. Oh, and also the Civil Rights Movement. And the New Deal. And the Kennedy Administration. And the Great Society. Sorry, liberals, but immigration is a jealous God!

Stephens gives away the game toward the end, where he declares that opposition to further immigration is “un-American.” That would be a surprise to the people who actually founded America, all of whom expressed considerable skepticism about the wisdom of unchecked immigration and warned future generations to be careful in choosing who, and how many, people to admit into the land.

Will Stephens go so far as to call Ben Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, and Jefferson himself “un-American”? His argument requires it.

Stephens repeats another lazy canard, namely that America is a “nation of immigrants.” This is true only insofar as every nation is a nation of immigrants, in that no human population was ever born directly from the soil beneath their feet, a la the lie that Socrates says in Plato’s Republic will have to be told to the citizens of the perfect city.

In America’s case, our country is not a “nation of immigrants” in two senses, one historical, the other theoretical. In the former sense, it is more accurate to call America, initially, a nation of settlers. A settler is not an immigrant. A settler builds ex nihilo and must form the initial social compact. An immigrant seeks to join a society already built, to join a compact already made.

Which points to the second sense. Like all free nations, America is a social compact made up of citizens who consent to form a political community. The formation of that compact is far clearer in the case of the United States than it was in, say, France. But in terms of the way the compact operates, there is no difference. The people consent to live together under a common government. That government governs only its citizens, not their neighbors or the rest of the world. The members of the compact may, by mutual consent, choose to admit others to it. Or they may not. The fact that some members of the compact—either originally or later—may have joined after exiting another compact (i.e., after emigrating from another country) does not confer any special status on later would-be immigrants. For the compact to have any meaning—for the government to have any legitimacy or coherence—it cannot be subject to the wishes of anyone who wants to join no matter the wishes of the compact’s existing members.

The wisest thing Donald Trump ever said—and he has said many wise things—is “We don’t have a country without a border.” To which I would add: America is not the common property of all mankind. It belongs to the Americans, and we alone get to determine who may—and who may not—become one of us.

Stephens tries to deny to the sovereign American people our right to determine who may join our country by transforming more immigration into a moral imperative. But contra Stephens, there is no imperative—moral or otherwise—for boosting the immigrant share of our population higher. The fact that it’s lower than Stephens would like is no more an argument for raising it than is the fact that I would like to see it lower an argument for lowering it. The immigrant share of the population is something that the citizen-body must deliberate about and decide how high or low it ought to be. Just because previous generations of Americans chose to augment the population by welcoming immigrants does not make such welcoming forever obligatory or give any would-be immigrants a special right to come here. There is no coherent conception of the rights of man in which immigration is a civil right Americans owe to all foreigners.

Do We Have Too Few Immigrants? The Economic Case: Stephens tries to supplement the implicit moral argument with an economic rationale, citing data which shows “the powerful correlation between high levels of immigration and sustained economic dynamism.” Leaving aside the question of what “economic dynamism” is—growth? productivity? innovation?—this argument is reminiscent of the only-immigrants-can-save-us claim about entitlements.

Recall the unspoken premise of that claim: the need for more immigrants never abates. Population growth to infinity and beyond! That same premise underlies this claim. If economies can never be “dynamic” without immigrants, then dynamism requires endless immigration. What happens when all the people in the non-dynamic countries have already moved to the dynamic ones? What then to keep the dynamism going? Stephens, as we have seen, is not above recommending forced population transfers. Is that what he has in mind?

In any case, the claim that economic dynamism requires immigration is patently absurd and disproved by dozens of examples. East Asian countries, for instance, take few to no immigrants and their economies are hardly static. Even economic powerhouses with a lot of immigrants, such as Germany, are not powerhouses because of the immigrants. The crown jewel of the German economy, its high-value manufacturing export sector, is run almost entirely by ethnic Germans. Perhaps Stephens has the causation exactly backward. Maybe the reason that immigration correlates with economic dynamism is not because immigration causes economic dynamism but because economic dynamism—i.e., wealth—attracts immigrants. Has Stephens considered this possibility?

Stephens’ last argument is simply a restatement of his hatred of ordinary flyover Americans, especially Republicans and Trump voters. He explicitly calls them un-American and morons, and indirectly calls them immoral and antisemites. He concluded his earlier column with a stunning restatement of the Vietnam-era slogan “America: Love it or Leave it” once so loathed by the Left. “Americans,” he wrote, “who don’t get [that we’re a country of immigrants] should get out.”

Here, finally, I find a narrow but perhaps encouraging basis for partial agreement. Stephens hates and does not want to live with anyone who will not submit to his superior wisdom and accept open borders. I suspect that more than a few of those he hates would be relieved not to have to live with Stephens, either.

But why should they be the ones to have to leave? There are many of them but only one Stephens. Or stretch the point to include the entire open borders commentariat; that’s still a very small number. Or stretch the point further to include the leadership of the Democratic Party, the intellectual class, and open-borders oligarchs. They are all still vastly outnumbered by American citizens who would like their government to regain control of the nation’s borders.

Wouldn’t it be easier for the smaller group to leave? Especially since they have no means (as yet) for kicking out their inferiors, who do not seem especially eager to depart? I’m trying to be helpful here, since it’s plain how much Stephens wants to separate from the great mob he so despises. Wouldn’t Stephens be happier forming his own social compact and getting it right (in his conception) from the beginning? And not have to deal with proles, rubes, and hicks whose deformed morality he finds so offensive?

I for one would wish him well in the endeavor.

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Neocons Empower America’s Enemies

Whenever neoconservatives speak about the bounties that endless wars of “liberation” will provide, I am reminded of a Jonah Goldberg column from 2002, expounding upon the many upsides of invading Iraq:

The most compelling substantive reason, from my point of view, is that Iraq should be a democratic, republican country, with individual rights secured by a liberal constitution. (My preferred governmental model is something along the lines of the Swiss confederation, with Kurds, Shiites, and Arab-Sunnis each having considerable internal autonomy but a shared national government. The country is already split in three parts by the U.S.- and British-imposed no-fly zones anyway.) A democratic Iraq with free-market institutions and the rule of law sounds pretty far-fetched, but it sounded pretty far-fetched for Japan and Germany too. The United States, with the help of its allies, pulled that off.

Goldberg’s claims were quickly proven to be disastrously wrong. (And not just Goldberg’s.) Yet such prognostications were taken at face value by some of the most important people in the world at the time.

Hence, when the United States went on its historic 21-day jog into Baghdad, everyone applauded (remember, 72 percent of Americans supported the Iraq War in 2003). To compound matters, the history that Goldberg (and the other neocons) relied upon was, as too often is the case with these “experts,” lacking all context.

The neoconservatives were accurate when they suggested early on that Iraq could be governed by a Swiss-style confederation, which would empower the regional Kurdish, Shiite, and Arab-Sunnis at the expense of an all-powerful central government in Baghdad. In fact, this was precisely what then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden argued in a controversial New York Times article in 2006. But for whatever reason, the neocons decided to pile on Biden for his beliefs.

Of course, Biden was right.

Think about that. Had the George W. Bush Administration listened to Joe Biden, the world likely would have been better off today.

Another galling claim from the neocons was that the U.S. effort in Iraq was similar to its postwar reconstruction endeavors in Japan or Germany. In both the cases of Japan and Germany, the countries had already been experimenting with forms of democracy long before the rise of either the Nazis in Germany, or the militarists under Hideki Tojo in Japan. In fact, the people of Germany and Japan had elected the Nazis and the militarists into office.

As early as World War I, the German parliament had considerable say in imperial governance. According to Adam Tooze, the democratically elected German parliamentarians (until 1916) were more hawkish about waging World War I than even the kaiser and his generals were! By 1917, the kaiser had promised still more democratic reforms as the war progressed.

As for the Japanese, the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912), which reformed Japan from a feudalistic society (ripe for bullying by the European colonial empires and the United States) into a first-rate world power, also created a form of democracy in Japan. While the emperor’s standing was maintained, the Japanese Diet—Japan’s democratically elected legislature—was created to govern the country at the time. In fact, Japan’s constitutional monarchy was based on Germany’s. These democratic institutions were organically formed. So when the Americans defeated the Axis powers in World War II, at least there was a democratic precedent for reconstruction. That wasn’t the case in Iraq (or really anywhere else in the Arab Middle East). Iraqis had known nothing except monarchy and tyranny.

And let’s not forget the role of total warfare and the Allies’ demand for unconditional surrender in World War II. The fact is, America’s grand strategy obliterated the German and Japanese infrastructure along with the legitimacy of their regimes. There was no sense of a “lost cause” among the Germans or Japanese. They were eager, in fact, to put those sordid days behind them. It helped, too, that their surrender made the populations almost entirely dependent on the Americans for the postwar order.

That didn’t happen with Iraq.

When the Americans invaded, the country was already a wreck under Saddam’s scleroitc rule and a decade of onerous sanctions. The United States went in with no clear concept either of an occupation or a reconstruction. But even if Washington had planned for both, the Iraqis lacked the culture, history, and temperament for democracy—which is why they are sliding back into a Islamist form of totalitarian rule.

That’s the upshot of more than 15 years of America’s “freedom agenda” for the Middle East: destitution, resentment, contempt, tyranny, and trillions of dollars in debt. The winners were the very same forces the United States had committed itself to defeating: Islamists of both the Sunni and Shiite varieties. The policies that the supposed “experts” at National Review, The Weekly Standard, and Commentary promoted managed to strengthen our enemies and corrode American foreign policy.

As Tallyrand said of the Bourbons, our neocons have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Today these same “intellectuals” advocate more expansive forms of humanitarian warfare. Everywhere from Syria to Nigeria is a potential target for American militarism. It’d be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that the neocons remain hugely influential not only in Washington, D.C. generally but even within the Trump Administration.

In draining the swamp, Trump must destroy the “military-intellectual complex” undergirding the Republican Party’s foreign policy establishment. If he doesn’t, the most flawed assumptions about American foreign policy will persist, and the United States could very well find itself mired in three or four more meaningless, unwinnable wars.

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Trump’s Hawaiian Volcano: The Scott-Free Dread of Korematsu

Does the Supreme Court care whether America is free or slave? That was the question 160 years ago, and it remains the question today. The result in Trump v. Hawaii is happier than that of the notorious Dred Scott v. Sanford, but that may only be a happy accident.

The 5-4 decision upholding President Trump’s travel moratorium from seven nations, including some in the Middle East, was even narrower than most observers expected. Yet, it might just as easily have been 7-2 in favor, or have been 5-4 against. The conclusion of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s two-page concurring opinion underscores this ambiguity:

The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of religion and promises the free exercise of religion. From these safeguards, and from the guarantee of freedom of speech, it follows there is freedom of belief and expression. It is an urgent necessity that officials adhere to these constitutional guarantees and mandates in all their actions, even in the sphere of foreign affairs. An anxious world must know that our Government remains committed always to the liberties the Constitution seeks to preserve and protect, so that freedom extends outward, and lasts. (Emphases added.)

Kennedy’s flightiness could easily have put him with a more temperate opinion from the dissenters, just as Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan’s aversion to Trump’s campaign rhetoric could have been resolved in favor of concurring with or even joining the majority opinion. It’s noteworthy the liberal pair did not join Sonia Sotomayor’s blustery dissent with Ruth Bader Ginsburg— quite possibly the most frivolous opinion ever written in Supreme Court history.

That split among the liberal appointees reflects the difference between the older and the Progressive factions of the Democratic Party. Opinions on both sides of the decision seem more dictated by politics (despising Trump) or by Kennedy’s musings than by constitutional law. Is this a House oversight hearing or a judicial decision? (Thanks to John Marini for inspiring the comparison.) Is it too much to ask that we see some serious thinking about the rule of law?

The Constitutionalism of Thomas
While Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion for the majority was on-target with the law and separation of powers principles—with one major exception I will come to—Clarence Thomas’s concurrence went to the heart of the constitutional, that is, the existential issue. His was the opinion that most forcefully laid out the constitutional consequences of the dangers we face in the world and the subsequent need for a hierarchy of the ends of government (following the old natural law reasoning of America’s Founders).

Thomas maintains that “the President has inherent authority to exclude aliens from the country”—a pure Article II executive power claim. Moreover,

the Establishment Clause does not create an individual right to be free from all laws that a “reasonable observer” views as religious or antireligious. The plaintiffs cannot raise any other First Amendment claim, since the alleged religious discrimination in this case was directed at aliens abroad.

That is, aliens are not part of our social contract and, unless they hold property, cannot have legal claims against the United States. Thomas lashes out at the lower court judicial despotism of “universal injunctions,” which finds federal district courts prohibiting the executive branch “from applying a law or policy against anyone” and thus preventing legal questions from percolating through the federal courts, encouraging forum shopping, and making every case a national emergency for the courts and for the Executive Branch.” These are how the travel cases gradually made their way to the Supreme Court. I would add to Thomas’s analysis that these courts are guerilla partisan political units, losing any legitimacy as courts. They are “legally and historically dubious,” their authority problematic. Now they can draw inspiration from the dissents.

When the ACLU Oversees National Security
It’s difficult to think of Roberts’ opinion as anything but a series of ironic dismissals of the suit, combined with sneers at Sotomayor’s fantastic dissent. “Unlike the typical [Establishment Clause] suit involving religious displays or school prayer, plaintiffs seek to invalidate a national security directive regulating the entry of aliens abroad.” We think of the court’s earlier zealous, ACLU-inflicted rulings on Christmas displays on public land now used as weapons against national security. Could the president be enjoined judicially from prohibiting Santa and his reindeer from entering the country? Does Jesus need a passport?

In addition, the Trump travel moratorium “is facially neutral toward religion. Plaintiffs therefore ask the Court to probe the sincerity of the stated justifications for the policy by reference to extrinsic statements—many of which were made before the President took the oath of office.” The reality show host, along with other, conventional candidates, has to be judged by his tweets and campaign blather. The Supreme Court has now to make sense of his motivations, not just here but in every case? Madness!

Roberts dismisses the application of violation of religious liberty standards (“strict scrutiny”) “because there is persuasive evidence that the entry suspension has a legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility, we must accept that independent justification” (i.e., “rational basis”).

In desperation, Sotomayor compares the court opinion to the infamous Korematsu v. United States, the ethnic Japanese exclusion of World War II. Roberts snaps,

Whatever rhetorical advantage the dissent may see in doing so, Korematsu has nothing to do with this case. The forcible relocation of U.S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority. But it is wholly inapt to liken that morally repugnant order to a facially neutral policy denying certain foreign nationals the privilege of admission. The entry suspension is an act that is well within executive authority and could have been taken by any other President—the only question is evaluating the actions of this particular President in promulgating an otherwise valid Proclamation.

Sotomayor’s reference to Korematsu, however, affords the court an opportunity to make plain what is already obvious: Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided, has been overruled in the court of history, and—to be clear—“has no place in law under the Constitution,” as Justice Robert Jackson wrote in his dissenting opinion at the time.

In response, the dissent claims the court “was finally overruling” the notorious Korematsu case. (See my objections to conventional understandings of the relocation.) But I wonder whether the dissent (and not a few legal pundits) bit on some Roberts’ chum that was intended to make Sotomayor appear a foolish fish. It is, therefore, mere dicta, not an “overruling.”

Hardships of War and Duties of Citizenship
In this limited space, I raise just a few questions about Roberts’ remarkable rhetoric here. First of all, what is the jurisdiction of “the court of history” that overruled Korematsu? Is this Hegel’s Weltgeschichte become Weltgericht (“World-History” become the “World Court/Final Judgment”?)

Second, what Roberts passes off as a summary of Korematsu is clearly wrong on key points, even when taking the perspective of the dissenters in that case. “The forcible relocation of U.S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority.” Though a majority of those relocated to centers were U.S. citizens, most of those were minors. The great danger lay among the first generation immigrants (including my father), who could not become U.S. citizens under the laws of the day and still felt close ties to their homeland, now the enemy, asking for national devotion from its sons and daughters abroad. To quote from that court opinion,

Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers—and we deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration camps, with all the ugly connotations that term implies—we are dealing specifically with nothing but an exclusion order. To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue.

Finally, neither Roberts nor Sotomayor mentions Korematsu’s inextricable relationship to its companion case of ex parte Endo, announced the same day, putting an end to the “concentration camps,” which could not continue to hold loyal U.S. residents. Both the Korematsu majority and the unanimous Endo court sought to contain a despotic policy and renew a Constitution already battered by Progressive assaults on rights. Korematsu is limited to the first phase of the relocation process—the assembly centers—and Endo forbade the government from constraining the loyal (who had already been permitted to leave the centers to find work or education).

It’s hard to believe Roberts or his clerks would have missed such obvious points. But it’s even more difficult to state frankly the costs of war. The Korematsu court opinion maintained

[H]ardships are part of war, and war is an aggregation of hardships. All citizens alike, both in and out of uniform, feel the impact of war in greater or lesser measure. Citizenship has its responsibilities, as well as its privileges, and, in time of war, the burden is always heavier.

Who can openly say such truths today? They weren’t known as the greatest generation for nothing.

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Why This Immigration Psychodrama Will Also Pass

Why is this man smiling?

A month from now there will be a new manufactured news story that Donald Trump is savage, represents an existential danger, or is unhinged. We will hear of another Trump official cornered and driven out from a liberal-owned Beltway or New York City restaurant. An unhinged Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) will rant some more about impeachment.

And then the current hysteria over the border detainments will be filed, and go the way of the “s—hole countries” frenzy or Melania’s jacket melodrama.

We’ve already been through the dizzying odyssey of legal suits in three states over supposedly fraudulent voting machines, the nullification of the Electoral College effort, the meltdown on Inauguration Day, the Emoluments Clause tizzy, the 25th Amendment con, the various Russian collusion hysterias, the leaked phone call to the Australian prime minister, the Michael Wolff Fire and Furyfantasies, the Dudley Do-Right James Comey pre-indictment book tour, and all the surreal assassination chic stories, from Kathy Griffin’s beheading photo to the Shakespearean troupe’s ritual stabbing of Trump.

One day the president is supposedly going to blow up the world by calling Kim Jong-un “little rocket man,” and the next he is a partner in genocide for not blowing up the world but reaching out to Kim.

One moment Trump will tank the economy and wreck the stock market, the next the undeniable Trump boom is not really his own but Obama’s. Give the media credit: it found a way to explain why 3.8 official unemployment and greater than 3 percent GDP growth is a bad thing (it will heat up the planet, lead to a crash, mask Trump’s crudity and make impossible impeachment, etc.)

Almost every Hollywood grandee has after 500 days weighed in on Trump to showcase his unique talents—the periodic “F–k Trump” rants from Robert De Niro, the Jim Carrey paint-by-numbers kindergarten drawings, the doped-up Johnny Depp hope of a John Wilkes Booth redux, or the Madonna foul-mouthed dream of an exploded White House. We cannot get much creepier than Stephen Colbert’s reference to “Putin’s c—holster” or Peter Fonda’s call for Baron Trump to be caged with pedophiles. The ossified Democratic grandees have had their say, from Joe Biden’s adolescent threat to beat up Trump and Eric Holder’s inane talk about a knife fight to Senator Kamala Harris’s “joke” about exiting an elevator alive, leaving a dead Trump behind in it.

NeverTrumpers have called for the GOP to lose the midterms, have castigated an “oily” Mike Pence, have called for the deportation of “contemptible Republican cowards” and the welcoming of illegal aliens in their place, and have suggested crazy theories about why Melania Trump was out of the public eye for weeks. Nothing they say on MSNBC or CNN shocks anymore.

Over the Top . . . and Beyond
So last week’s Holocaust/Japanese Internment hysteria narrative at the border will soon fade, too.

In particular, the charge that the border holding areas are akin to Nazi extermination camps does not resonate well with the public, even as Trump polls on illegal immigration better than do his critics.

Second, the fake news epidemic has discredited much of the attack on Trump, the supposedly cruel-hearted nativist restrictionist—from the “fake but accurate” Time magazine cover to using Obama-era photos of “cages” to impugn ongoing Trump policies. What is going on in the United States is akin to the popular pushback in Italy and Germany to the insanity of elites opening up borders, virtue signaling, smearing their critics, and then ensuring themselves the influence, power, and money to navigate around the consequences of their own policies.

Third, once Trump recalibrated the policy to allow illegal alien parents to stay with their kids as they pursue their mostly falsely constructed amnesty pleas, progressives have fallen back to the essentially nihilistic position that no one should be detained. That is tantamount to a call for the destruction of the border itself and an end to national sovereignty. The call to abolish ICE, and to expose their agents to harm, is not a winning issue. If Trump was still winning a majority of support in clumsily following the law, the Democrats will not win majority support by smugly breaking it.

Fourth, the tactic of storming restaurants to shout down and expel government officials in their off-hours, and the media screaming and crying on the air is rich fuel for a Trump reelection, not repudiation. Once Black Lives Matter started pouring into restaurants, or immigration activists shut down freeways, or a few of the #MeToo accusers went back 30 years to redefine as rape an unwise, unpleasant, and creepy act of coitus with current repugnant Hollywood and journalistic grandees, the public began to become confused over means and ends.

In general, nothing hurts a cause more than going full French Revolution.

Fifth, Mexico is certainly not a sympathetic player. The likely upcoming election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador will crystalize the absurdity of a supposedly aggrieved Mexico, as the beneficiary of a $71 billion trade surplus with the United States (such imbalances were not supposed to happen according to the architects of NAFTA 34 years ago).

Americans are not in sympathy with the $30 billion in remittances sent home to Mexico by its expatriate community in the United States, knowing many of them are beneficiaries of America’s generous local, state, and federal social welfare aid that frees up such cash. Americans do not like the idea of a would-be foreign leader boasting that the United States has no rights of sovereignty inside its own country. In the midst of a contrived transit of Central Americans across Mexico to the U.S. border, Obrador is calling for more Mexican citizens to crash into the U.S. For a country, a people, and a leader who feign to dislike their neighbor to the north, they certainly do not seem to be able to live without it.

Sixth, too often an old photo of the same detention centers used in the same way, or a quote from President Obama (“Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back.”) or Hillary Clinton (“We have to send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay. So, we don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws or will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.”) pops up that makes even the best efforts at mock outrage pretty much just mock.

Distractions from the Coming Storm?
Finally, there are some bombshell stories coming up on abuses of the Obama Justice Department and FBI relating to the fraudulent information used to obtain FISA warrants, the planting of FBI informants in the Trump campaign, the unmasking and leaking of names of surveilled Americans by the Obama national security apparat, and likely indictments of some former FBI officials for their illegal behavior relating to the Clinton email scandal.

Various hearings, lawsuits, and IG reports likely will confirm the Obama Administration “knew” Hillary was going to win the 2016 presidential election and therefore did not worry much about breaking the law to ensure she did. In other words, the Obama Administration systematically used the agencies of the federal government to interfere with a U.S. election campaign in order to help the candidate of its own party win. That fact marks one of the most sordid political scandals in U.S. history and explains both why these anti-Trump hysterias will continue to be contrived to deflect attention from Obama’s own culpability in such government-wide abuse, and yet why eventually the sheer magnitude of such wrongdoing will overshadow all of these melodramas.

Glossing over the attempting to destroy a free and open election will force the Left into a position of supporting the idea of government surveilling U.S. citizens, planting spies into the campaigns of political opponents, peddling opposition research dirt to federal courts to deceive them into granting warrants to spy on U.S. citizens, and weaponizing federal bureaucracies to pursue political enemies. Even fake news cannot make John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Peter Strzok into sympathetic Time magazine cover victims of Trump.

Progressives do not praise anymore, as they did a year ago, Robert Mueller’s “All-Stars” or “Dream Team” of Ivy League whiz kids who were supposed to draw and quarter the uncouth Trump in a matter of weeks. Now some of the dream teamers have left under a cloud of bias, and more may soon follow. Mueller himself has gone from the dreaded Inspector Javert to the comical Inspector Clouseau. According to his absurd mandate, Mueller was asked to investigate a crime that did not exist, while ignoring plenty of crimes that most certainly did.

The American people know that there was not a Holocaust on their border and that their often slandered border patrol officers are not the Waffen SS, that Mexico does not act like a particularly friendly power, that illegal aliens will do almost anything to enter a country illegally, which, otherwise, many do not seem especially fond of once they make it in, and that the progressive movement must somehow abort Donald Trump’s presidency before a booming economy and a more secure world abroad make that impossible.

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All Those Lies on the Border

Much of what has been said of the challenges the Trump Administration faces in its fight against illegal immigration—specifically when it comes to the treatment of children—has stretched partial truths into total falsehoods.

First is the claim, as Justin Doom writes, that “no law mandates separating families.” Doom asserts this against Trump’s statement that U.S. policy separating families is law. Doom suggests that Trump is simply lying.

But Trump isn’t lying. The media is phenomenally misleading and is omitting the 1997 Flores consent decree, which states that children cannot be detained at all. That means if the government wants to detain illegal alien adults, children must be separated. “Trump’s only other choice would be not to prosecute illegal immigration at all,” writes Ben Shapiro.

The Flores decree says that unaccompanied children can be held for 20 days, and the Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals extended this policy to apply to children who arrive in “family units,” although the adults that children arrive with are not always family. Rich Lowry explains:

If the adult then wants to go home, in keeping with the expedited order of removal that is issued as a matter of course, it’s relatively simple. The adult should be reunited quickly with his or her child, and the family returned home as a unit. In this scenario, there’s only a very brief separation.

Where it becomes much more of an issue is if the adult files an asylum claim. In that scenario, the adults are almost certainly going to be detained longer than the government is allowed to hold their children.

Once this happens, adults and the children they claim as family are released with orders to return to court for their immigration hearings. It’s not hard to see why this system is critically flawed. Illegal aliens simply need to land in a city or state with sanctuary laws and they’re safe.

To reiterate, this means the government is forced to separate families, squarely placing the fault on Democrats and leftist lawmakers, just like Trump says. The media won’t mention this, because that would undermine the anti-Trump narrative.

The Asylum Canard
Second, there is the claim that these families, particularly those with minors, must be allowed entry because they are fleeing trouble.

“Children are often targeted for recruitment by gangs, and their families seek safe haven in the United States,” writes Miriam Jordan. In the same column, however, Jordan acknowledges that the much-publicized emphasis on prioritizing those illegally entering the country with children has effectively incentivized human trafficking:

Beginning in 2013, minors were fraudulently plucked from shelters by men who posed as friends or family, promised to provide them shelter and transport them to their immigration court hearings, then made them work on egg farms in Ohio.

They were forced to toil long hours, live in dilapidated trailers and use their earnings to pay for their passage to the United States. Six people were later sentenced to federal prison for their participation in the scheme.

Jordan writes that it is unclear how frequently children are trafficked, but a report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) provides an idea. FAIR’s analysis of U.S. State Department data shows 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked by coercion or force into the United States each year. The report notes that some estimates are as high as 19,000 and concludes that children are the most vulnerable targets. It can be inferred that these figures include children who have been “fraudulently plucked from shelters” and brought into the country in an effort to deceive immigration authorities.

But are these children truly safe from gangs in America? Not quite. Domestic gangs heavily recruit illegal aliens and children in particular.

When MS-13 was born in the barrios of Los Angeles in the 1980s, its membership consisted of youths from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Citing local gang investigators, Jessica Vaughn of the Center for Immigration Studies reports that illegal alien gangs like MS-13 continue aggressively to recruit children as young as 10 years old. By 2004, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide in Los Angeles—a full 1,200 to 1,500—targeted illegal aliens, while as many as two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants—17,000—were for illegal aliens.

Vaughn found that 1 in 4 members of MS-13 who’ve been arrested or charged with crimes since 2012 entered the country as a child. Her report also shows that the locations of crimes committed by MS-13 correspond with locations where large numbers of children were resettled by the federal government.

In a group of 506 MS-13 suspects, 120 arrived as minors. Of those, 48 were suspected of murder. Meanwhile, the number of DACA recipients who have lost their protected status due to gang involvement has surged into the thousands—including some arrested for human trafficking incidents. This is happening more frequently because the United States no longer has the means or the desire to assimilate foreigners, who thus retain the habits that have plunged their countries of origin into chaos.

Parents Putting Their Children at Risk
The ACLU condemned the zero-tolerance policy by arguing that only “parents who are abusive or unfit to care for their children can legally have them taken away.” Implicit in this line is that illegal aliens are entitled to all of the same legal rights as U.S. citizens the moment that they cross the border. They are not. As illegal aliens, they are subject to immigration law and policy. To suggest the rights of U.S. citizens are extended to people all over the globe is to abstract the idea of American government into a meaningless absurdity.

Truth is, the blame for family separations should fall on those who illegally enter the United States and place children at risk in the process. But the politics of guilt forbid such sobriety in judgment.

Consider that the same people who insist the National Rifle Association is somehow responsible for school shootings also insist that no illegal aliens should be blamed for family separations. Progressives will never generalize a group or place blame on an individual unless that group or individual violates some politically correct article of faith.

The administration is right to stand its ground, but this will only turn the media toward more flagrant emotional pandering. Videos of parents weeping, sound bites of kids yelling, “Mama!” Let us instead see footage of how millions of Latino children live already in California, where children mostly from immigrant families make up the greatest number of poor in the state. Should we throw more children onto that pile for a quick gratification of liberal sensibilities? Now they are poor and disadvantaged in America and displacing a needy American child as they receive aid, but at least we feel good about ourselves for being “inclusive?” Here many end up joining gangs they say they were attempting to avoid by emigrating? But we should applaud our humanity?

Find the Nerve
If the administration backs down on this—I pray it doesn’t—it is broadcasting a message to the world that if one wishes to bypass American law, one needs simply to abduct a child and use him as a token of passage into the country.

Further, what separates the United States from the Third World is that we are a nation of laws. This immigration scheme reduces us to lawlessness—undermining one of the characteristics that make America so desirable for immigrants (and illegals) in the first place. America will cease resembling anything American, and resemble the countries now sending us illegal aliens. When all of California resembles Mexico and El Salvador, to where will these people “flee” then? Shall we import the entire population of Central America, so long as each “family unit” bears a child? Progressives would make the entire population of Latin America into public charges for Americans, and ask Americans to nod and smile while it happens.

If elected officials do not find a spine, if they do not wipe the emotional-media-induced fog from their brains, history will remember them as cowards and fools who could have saved America from mass immigration but failed to do out of a misguided sense of paternalism. They will be remembered for patting themselves on their backs as the walls were overrun.

The only right thing to do is send these people back as they came, in groups, unharmed, and wish them the best.

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Trump’s Immigration Policies Aren’t Like Japanese Internment

I rarely feel sympathy for Members of Congress, least of all Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings, but his tearful plea about separating children from their illegal immigrant parents—“What country is that?”—moves even as it exasperates.  

Far worse than Cummings’ emoting are the hysterical attacks by the media and sanctimonious elites on the Trump Administration policy, ably defended by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. One wonders indeed what country this is.

The assault on defending America from a child-led human wave betrays an evil hand at work, weaving Laura Bush, actor George Takei, and U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) into collusion. Along with others, each compares the separation of children from illegal aliens (often the adults are not parents) with the “internment” of Japanese Americans during World War II. At least this blunder avoided General Michael Hayden’s obscene comparison with Auschwitz. And it provides a teachable moment about how laws protect the people.

All Laws But One?
In fact, the relocation of ethnic Japanese from the West Coast was defensible on national security grounds. With the information Franklin Roosevelt had, it would have been irresponsible for him not to have taken drastic actions. He was following Abraham Lincoln’s July 4, 1861, Civil War plea: “Are all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?”

The issue was not that every or even a majority of the ethnic Japanese had primary loyalty to fanatical, anti-democratic Imperial Japan, which earlier had conquered Taiwan and Korea, was waging a brutal war against China, and was advancing into Southeast Asia. Ethnic Japanese adults could not be citizens because of the Immigration Act of 1924, which reflected Progressive racial ideology in denying them that privilege. Would these objects of discrimination look to Japan as their liberator and protector? In any event, Japanese community papers cheered on Japan’s military achievements, and the immigrants donated to its war efforts. Among their sons and daughters, as many as 11,000 over the years went to Japan for language and cultural education.

Pearl Harbor tested the loyalty of ethnic Japanese. And, unfortunately, two Japanese Americans failed the test. Toward the end of the December 7 attack, a damaged Japanese fighter-bomber landed on the isolated island of Niihau, at the westernmost tip of the Hawaiian archipelago. The inhabitants knew nothing of the horrors of the day. The inspired pilot broke the good news to a startled California-born Japanese-American farmer and his wife and won them over to the glorious cause. After a few hours of these armed histrionics, Hawaiians resisted and before long both the pilot and the farmer were dead. If quite ordinary farmers would take up arms, what might be expected of more militant nationalistic ethnic Japanese, especially on the mainland, where they suffered under discriminatory laws? Which country would win their loyalty?

After consulting advisors, Roosevelt heard enough and didn’t want to take chances. Ethnic Japanese on the West Coast had to leave for detention centers and, a few months later, moved to hastily constructed barracks in enclosed centers in the interior of the country. Eventually, Japanese American men could serve in the Army, and they did so winning honors in Europe (notably the U.S. Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Combat Battalion) and as interpreters in the Pacific. These men (including two uncles of mine) did much to demonstrate loyalty and open the way to post-war return.

The Other Side of Internment
Life in the “camp” barracks was boring, so my parents moved out to work in agriculture in Oregon. In the winter they moved back. Three of my mother’s siblings decided to chance Chicago instead. (One could leave the camps for college or a job outside the West Coast.)
Camp yearbooks illustrate the story of schools, sports teams, dances, work, and social activities. Although the U.S. Supreme Court approved the initial detention (Korematsu v. United States), it also ruled that the government could not hold anyone it couldn’t say was disloyal (Ex parte Endo). So the government disbanded the camps and the Japanese returned to face an uncertain time back in their old communities. Once a ferociously anti-Japanese attorney general, Governor Earl Warren warmly welcomed them back to California.

But there is another side to this story. Initially, my parents went to Tule Lake in Northern California, the birthplace of this psychiatrist who is now protesting the separation of the immigrant children. (The charge that relocation severely injured the inhabitants’ health is based on false comparisons between different populations of ethnic Japanese.)

Tule Lake later was converted to a segregation center to house dissident, typically younger Japanese-Americans who proved to be troublemakers in other camps. (Several thousand ethnic Japanese who renounced loyalty to the United States had been allowed to leave the country for Japan.) At Tule Lake, many of the relocated Japanese demonstrated in favor of Japan and at night attacked the inu (dogs), whom they accused of being informants. Of course, the alleged informants insisted they were being patriotic Americans supporting the war effort.

My parents went to Minidoka, in Idaho, where they were near relatives who lived and worked outside the camp, and whom they could visit on weekends.

Though my immigrant father favored Japan, as did most of his generation, he could do nothing for that cause. My mother felt herself American. One young man, who would later become an uncle of mine, obeyed his pro-Japan mother, refused the draft, and was imprisoned.

A Facile and Foolish Comparison
Finally, the use of “internment” neglects the proper meaning of that term. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, the government swept up people suspected of pro-Japan activities—generally aliens, militant nationalists, some community leaders, and some Shinto and Buddhist priests. Without their families’ knowledge, they were interned in separate camps and weren’t permitted communication until months later.

Hawaii posed a separate problem. There was no way to relocate all the Japanese without crippling the economy and workforce. So the military imposed a curfew on everyone. In the meantime, the Japanese military plotted to use elements of the island’s Japanese population, nearly half the total, against the rest, just as the pilot attempted at Niihau. We can rest assured they would have done the same with the continental Japanese had they not been relocated. For a fascinating account, see University of Hawaii historian John Stephan’s Hawaii Under the Rising Sun: Japan’s Plans for Conquest after Pearl Harbor, which appreciates both the military challenges and the tug of ethnic identity.

The best scholarly account of the relocation is Brian Hayashi’s Democratizing the Enemy. While he’s opposed to the relocation, Hayashi lays out facts that allow a contrary conclusion.

Our brief account here of a terrible time in America that also demanded loyalty should, however, suffice to make shameful its facile use in contemporary debates. When critics of the defense of borders thunder Christian imprecations, they might want to ponder whether illegal immigrants are free of original sin. And they might also imagine them as, in fact, clever people who know how to use as well as how to be used. Unfortunately, it seems instead that America’s elites have finally found a use for one Asian-American group.

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Delusion About Detentions: On Family Separation at the Border

Upstanding journalists, their fellow right-minded pundits, and progressive elected official friends are outraged! 

Part one of two.

According to them, the Trump Administration’s approach to immigration enforcement is cruel, un-American, inhumane, barbaric, and even medically dangerous.

NeverTrump’s go-to former Bush official, General Michael Hayden, took the hand-wringing and hyperbole to a new level over the weekend, issuing a tweet comparing the separation of families illegally entering the United States to, you guessed it, the Holocaust.

I hereby invoke Godwin’s Law.

The problem is the facts are at odds with the conventional media interpretation of existing legal precedent, prior administrations’ practices, and even relevant federal statutes. You know, the law.

But being wrong on the facts has never stopped the media and their useful idiots in the commentariat from maligning the Trump Administration unfairly to suit their agenda. Now they’re shrieking about “baby jails.” It’s insane.

Let’s take a breath and assess what’s really happening. To begin with, just counting April and May 2018 when the Trump Administration announced it would prosecute 100 percent of illegal border crossing cases, at least 78,622 individuals were apprehended at the southwest border. Of those taken into custody, only 19,138 consisted of people traveling as part of a family unit (parents and/or children) while another 10,707 were listed as “unaccompanied alien children” (UACs). Most of those apprehended are neither children nor accompanying parents.

Loopholes, Lies, and the Law
The issue at hand is the difference in the treatment that contiguous (i.e., the bordering countries of Mexico and Canada) and non-contiguous nations (mostly Central American nations including Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador) receive under the 2008 Wilberforce Act.

That law includes a provision to grant special recognition to minors (under 18 years old) from non-contiguous countries in immigration law. In effect, it made every Central American juvenile migrant an automatic asylum case, mandating they be transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services without a border patrol assessment of their circumstances.

As the New York Times explained in 2014:

[The Wilberforce Anti-Trafficking Act] required that [UACs] be given an opportunity to appear at an immigration hearing and consult with an advocate, and it recommended that they have access to counsel. It also required that they be turned over to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the agency was directed to place the minor “in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child” and to explore reuniting those children with family members.

Canadian and Mexican children can be, upon the determination of DHS, immediately repatriated, but non-contiguous UACs must go before a hearing judge to be considered for asylum, with a lawyer provided.

So, what about adults and families with children?

According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in 2014:

Foreign nationals—specifically in this context adults and families with children—apprehended along the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry who lack proper immigration documents or who engage in fraud or misrepresentation are placed in a procedure known as expedited removal; however, if they express a fear of persecution, they receive a “credible fear” hearing with a [DHS] asylum officer and—if found credible—are referred to [a DOJ] immigration judge for a hearing.

CRS’s useful chart explains the process as of 2014:

But the courts have complicated matters recently. The U.S. Supreme Court in February ruled the federal government may detain unlawful immigrants indefinitely, without a bond hearing, per the following statutes:

(1) INA § 235(b), which generally requires the detention of “arriving aliens,” as well as certain other aliens who have not been admitted or paroled into the United States and are subject to removal;

(2) INA § 236(c), which generally requires the detention of aliens who are removable because of specified criminal activity or security grounds upon their release from criminal incarceration; and

(3) INA § 236(a), which generally authorizes the detention of aliens arrested pending removal proceedings, and permits (but does not require) aliens not subject to mandatory detention to be released on parole or bail.

CRS legal expert Hillel Smith notes a wrinkle in the court’s ruling: “But while the Supreme Court affirmed the government’s statutory authority to detain aliens for an indefinite period under the challenged statutes, the Court did not reach a fundamental question raised in the Jennings litigation—is the indefinite detention of aliens pending removal proceedings constitutional?”

In other words, the administration has the discretion to allow for the release of illegal border crossers but has no obligation to exercise it.

On the merits, that is a wise policy because of the high likelihood of aliens absconding and failing to appear before an immigration judge later. According to former immigration judge Mark Metcalf’s analysis, 37 percent of all aliens free pending adjudication did not bother to show up to court. But the recent trend is more concerning: according to the Justice Department, “From FY 2012 to FY 2015 the number of in absentia orders for aliens who are not currently detained increased by 98 percent.”

Though it dipped slightly in fiscal year 2016, the no-show rate has spiked again in the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, reaching more than 40,000 disappeared aliens a year.

At the same time, immigration judges are rejecting the asylum claims made by migrants—granting less than one in five of all asylum petitions in the last few years.

Tellingly, the number of migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have skyrocketed (up 470 percent to nearly 40,000) in the last five years of the Obama Administration. Yet only about one out of 25 of those Central American applicants (under 4 percent) were granted asylum.

Therefore, the immigration judges are not substantiating these claims often and rarely granting relief to many of the Central American migrants—who cannot be immediately deported if they claim asylum. Under the law, they are entitled to a hearing if they can merely utter the word: asylum. (You can follow the Byzantine appeals process in this handy flowchart or read up on the uses and abuses of the process here and here.)

And you should know these border crossers are being actively advised and coached on how to game the system with asylum claims by activists.

Courting Confusion: Flores, Flores, Flores!
In the meantime, the federal government must decide what to do with aliens not subject to immediate repatriation.

There, other courts have muddied the legal waters further.

For background, the much-discussed Flores Settlement in 1997, which, as an agreement between the courts and the Justice Department has the force of law, dictated how children in federal immigration custody were to be treated and processed.

As the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in 2016:

Before 2001, “families apprehended for entering the United States illegally were most often released rather than detained because of a limited amount of family bed space; families who were detained had to be housed separately, splitting up parents and children…In the wake of September 11, 2001, however, immigration policy fundamentally changed,” with “more restrictive immigration controls, tougher enforcement, and broader expedited removal of illegal aliens,” which “made the automatic release of families problematic.” (Emphasis added.)

So, contrary to media reports, children and their parents were separated for detention. A 2005 DHS Inspector General’s report explicitly called out the practice: “Accompanied juveniles (those apprehended with their families) were separated from their families due to space limitations in ‘family unity’ shelters.”

The watchdog continued:

[Detention and Removal Office, ICE (DRO)] attempts to keep families together by finding available space in a family shelter. However, on occasion, such as when criminal charges are filed against the parent or bed space is not available in a family shelter, DRO is unable to keep the juvenile with the adult relative. In these instances, the juvenile is separated from the adult relative and is treated as an unaccompanied juvenile under ORR’s jurisdiction. Need for Additional Family Shelters Juvenile aliens who were accompanied when originally apprehended can become unaccompanied juveniles because of a lack of appropriate detention facilities. In these situations, accompanied juveniles, regardless of age, are separated from their family members because longer-term facilities are not readily available to accommodate the family. Juveniles ranging from babies to teenagers are transported to facilities without their parents.

But the 2008 Wilberforce Act and subsequent federal court directives complicated the Clinton-Bush II policy of occasional family separation.

A series of lawsuits and negative press coverage, spearheaded by the ACLU and immigrant rights’ advocates, forced Obama to shut down one family detention center (Hutto) in 2009.

Another DHS report authored by Obama appointee Dora Schriro argued effectively for the wholesale release of all migrant families and children. Even the Obama White House balked at that one, and instead redoubled family detention while rejecting the appeals of legal activists and recommendations within the administration, even though conditions hadn’t improved much.

According to the Obama Administration, and then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, who declared publicly in 2014 that there would be “zero-tolerance for border-crossers”:

In June 2014, the administration announced that it would pursue wide-scale detention of mothers and children to deter other families from seeking asylum in the United States. DHS Secretary Johnson told Congress, “Our message is clear to those who try to illegally cross our borders: You will be sent back home.” Underscoring the department’s resolve, he added that the government was “building additional space to detain these groups and hold them until their expedited removal orders are effectuated” . . . It was, he said, “. . . [a]n aggressive deterrence strategy focused on the removal and repatriation of recent border crossers. Immediately thereafter, when ICE agents apprehended families at the border, they assigned them to a [family detention center] for expedited processing…In keeping with this rationale, DHS insisted on continued detention during proceedings after families received a favorable decision following the “credible fear” screening interviews. Between June 2014 and February 2015, ICE denied release to nearly all detained families in its initial custody determination, even those who had passed their screening interviews.  When families sought reviews of decisions to continue detention before immigration judges, ICE attorneys opposed release, arguing that a “no bond” or “high bond” policy was necessary to “significantly reduce the unlawful mass migration of Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans.

A subsequent report, issued publicly in late 2016, again promoted the unfettered release of migrants and elimination of family detention facilities. That policy, too, was never implemented.  

At the same time, Obama’s Justice Department was fighting tooth-and-nail in federal court against activists’ broad readings of the Flores settlement that would have shuttered family detention centers and mandated the release of parents of minor children. The Holder-Lynch DOJ preferred to maintain a “deterrence” approach for detention decisions and apply the Flores settlement only to unaccompanied minors.

The ultra-liberal Ninth Circuit partially sided with the administration by ruling that parents were not eligible for release under Flores merely because they had children. At the same time, the court rejected the claim that Flores did not apply to all children and that its deterrence was rational.

By holding that all children are subject to Flores but allowing for the parents to be detained for adjudication, the courts created a “sticky wicket,” since the accompanied Wilberforce-eligible children, cannot be deported immediately without a hearing, and their parents are subject to criminal sanction. It effectively created parallel immigration systems, one for the parents and one for their children. At the same time, the two-tiers render, for all intents and purposes, an accompanied child “unaccompanied”—placing them into HHS’s jurisdiction.

In 2017, the Obama-appointed federal judge Dolly Gee explained that the government

may conclude that it is in the best interests of an accompanied minor to remain with a parent who is in detention . . . (The parties also do not address the situation where the mother chooses to stay in the detention facility or has been deemed a flight or safety risk. As a practical matter, [government] would be justified in detaining both mother and child in that case”). On the other hand, it may be the case that “in order to effectuate the least restrictive form of detention for the child, [government] must follow an order of preference for the minor’s release to an available adult [not in detention].”

But if the parents are detained, who exactly do you release a bonded child to?

That’s the conundrum the Ninth Circuit laid out in a 2017 decision:

[I]t permits a system under which unaccompanied minors will receive bond hearings, but the decision of the immigration judge will not be the sole factor in determining whether and to whose custody they will be released. Immigration judges may assess whether a minor should remain detained or otherwise in the government’s custody, but there must still be a separate decision with respect to the implementation of the child’s appropriate care and custody.

In other words, HHS, under the Wilberforce law, could in effect overrule the immigration judge if there is not an appropriate placement for the eligible child.

To recap: Legal loopholes are to blame for the differential treatment for different migrant groups; George W.  Bush did separate families and Obama fought hard to detain children and families; and recent federal court decisions have sown confusion and created a byzantine process that makes it impossible to enforce the law without the two-tier, separation policy.

Part two will address the alternatives to the status quo, both proposed and unexamined, and the implications for legislative action.

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Remittances: Illegal Immigration’s $30 Billion ‘Hidden Tax’

Paris. The year is 1788. The air is heavy with the scent of impending revolution. Some praise the king in hushed whispers, others shout “Liberté! Egalité! Fraternité!” in the streets. Either way, the time for talk is over. How did it get to this point?

The hopeful specter of radical liberalism played its part, as the father of modern conservatism Edmund Burke observes in his masterpiece Reflections on the Revolution in France. But most men aren’t dreamers. Most live parochial lives and think parochial thoughts—there’s no time to dream when you’re working to put bread on the table.

For the average Parisian, the revolution was about bread: why should they starve while the king eats his fill? Necessarily tied to this was a broader question: why should Parisians pay exorbitant taxes so that the king can live like, well, a king? This is a good question, one which the French answered (regrettably) with blood.

As bad as the Parisian tax regime was, at least everyone knew they were getting taxed. Nowadays, many of our biggest taxes are hidden, disguised as “user fees” or “mandatory contributions.” Think Obamacare or Social Security contributions. Likewise, at least money collected in Paris tended to stay in France, employing French harlots and French maestros. It could have been worse.

Imagine how mad the French would have been if their taxes flowed instead into the Russian Czar’s Winter Palace, employing Russian harlots and Russian maestros. In the end, paying domestic taxes is always preferable than paying tribute to a foreign land.

Redistribution is bad, elimination is worse.

Therein lies one of illegal immigration’s biggest, yet routinely ignored, problems: illegal aliens hop the border, work (often without paying taxes), and send a large chunk of their earnings back home via remittances. Basically, remittances are a hidden tax Americans pay for the privilege of hiring artificially cheap illegal labor—and it adds up. In fact, illegal immigrants may remit around $30 billion annually.

Finding the Right Ballpark
To be clear, it’s impossible to know exactly how much money illegal immigrants remit annually. There are three reasons for this. First, we don’t know how many illegal immigrants actually reside in America. Second, the term remittance itself is ambiguous: should we include money stuffed in a birthday card in our calculations? Third, we cannot track the location of every dollar even if we wanted to (if we could, black markets wouldn’t exist).

Nevertheless, I think we can apply a set of reasonable assumptions to a reasonable dataset, and reach a reasonable conclusion as to just how much money illegal aliens remit annually—although we cannot hit a home run, we can at least bat in the right ballpark. Let’s step up to the plate.

First, assume that all of America’s remittance outflows are either sent by first-generation legal immigrants or illegal aliens. Next, assume that these two groups send equal amounts of money home per person. Although legal immigrants earn more per capita, they likely send a much smaller proportion of their pay abroad (if they send any at all). I think these are fair assumptions.

Now, let’s apply those assumptions to the numbers. According to Pew Research’s 2018 remittance outflow data, America lost $138.2 billion in remittances in 2016. And given that there are some 40 million first-generation immigrants, and (at least) 11.1 million illegal aliens, this means that there are roughly 51.1 million people sending remittances abroad.

Of course, the number of aliens is debatable: a recent study from Yale University found that there were at least 22.8 million illegals residing in America. That being said, let’s go with the low number for the sake of argument.

Dividing the total remittance outflows by immigrant proportions reveals that illegal aliens likely remit some $30 billion per year. That’s a lot of money. For context, it’s as much as the entire annual GDP of Vermont. And of course, the figure would be higher if we used Yale’s population estimates.

But it’s not just about the money—it’s what’s happening to it. Remember when I said earlier that no matter how bad Paris’s taxes were, at least the money paid for French (rather than Russian) harlots and maestros? Remittances are worse. Every dollar remitted by illegal aliens is a dollar ejected from the local economy, never to recirculate or be reinvested—it goes directly to Russia, or more likely Mexico, China, and Guatemala. This reduces the velocity of money and causes liquidity problems, particularly in small towns.

Functionally, there’s little difference between remittances and federal taxes: taxes skimmed from small towns pools in Washington D.C., while remittances sent by aliens line Carlos Slim’s pockets. It’s that simple. And yet allegedly anti-tax organizations like the Cato Institute routinely argue in favor of open borders, not seeming to grasp the necessary implications.

It’s time we stopped speaking in jargon. Let’s call out remittances sent by illegal aliens for what they actually are: a tax.

Photo credit: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

America • Big Media • Department of Homeland Security • Donald Trump • Hollywood • Post • The Culture • The Left • The Media • The Resistance (Snicker)

Vito Corleone Is a Snowflake

There has been much said about Robert De Niro’s recent mental breakdown at the Tony Awards. No need to completely rehash it here.

But one thing perhaps overlooked in today’s Kulturkampf, in which coddled vacuous aging snowflakes like De Niro take a slack-jawed part, is how modern political discourse is becoming less about policy, even less about direct politics, and more about cultural indicators better understood by emotion than by logic of any sort.

That impulse, not ideas, rules the political roost.

If you looked at the clip of young Vito Corleone’s eloquent broadside, what you saw was an old man having a Tourette’s episode and an arm muscle spasm at the same time. But scan the precious audience and you’ll see them desperately looking around to see who else is standing up. That is before they give De Niro a richly deserved ovation from their ideologically diverse group of free thinkers.

Yes, Travis Bickle was in his own special safe space.

That kinder gentler bubble dots the landscape from New York City, to Washington, D.C., and then westward to the smoggy and smug confines of Southern California. And here lies, what we used to call in the Army, the FEBA. For I’m not sure the Tony Awards got a 20 share, in, say, Tulsa?

So every time Jimmy Conway opines, Kathy Griffin spouts, and Samantha Bee nauseates the vast majority of the United States, it is a small caliber mortar round aimed at their idea of the hoi polloi. The misaimed projectile is lobbed high into the vastness of pop culture, coming down with a Trump vote-increasing hiss in locales like West Virginia and Wyoming, places that the president won with 68 percent of the vote. Are they going for 80 percent? Seems so.

It’s not like high school dropout Ace Rothstein is exactly a policy expert, anyway. His violent tough-guy roles, as pleasing as they are to me on a visceral male level, don’t exactly have a wide intellectual range. It’s not like he’s doing “Twelve Angry Men” at the Old Vic anytime soon.

De Niro’s expertise is limited to make believe and making sure those around him on a movie set, every one of whom makes a living on account of him and thus are likely to treat him quite above his lowly cerebral station, can coach him well enough to translate his mumbling gibberish into actual dialogue in the English language. While that may pass for intellect in some of our nation’s more feverish broadcast salons, it has only recently been affirmed as political activity and discourse.

These days a tweet by Roseanne Barr, pompous professional athletes taking a knee during the anthem, or an insipid Broadway cast lecturing the vice-president elect of the United States moves the political meter as much as, if not more than, the federal budget, national security, or U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The process started in 1960 when John Kennedy won his debate with Richard Nixon on the basis of sheer star quality (radio listeners said Richard Nixon clobbered him) has truly come to fruition. For some, there’s no need for a politician to be a leader. Being a celebrity will do just fine because the script is already written for the Left. There is only selling it.

This is why they don’t know how to react to the current president who embodies their methods but is completely off script.

Curiously, this hive violates a sacred rule of the game regarding our cultural cold war. By leaping at every piece of bait the president throws out. Their hysterical shrew-like behavior every time he makes any move or pronouncement, does his marketing for him. By the time we get to the political box office, these free unintentional promos have done the work his White House communications office could only hope to accomplish.

It’s as if they’ve seen one film, one of the versions of Orwell’s 1984. But instead of a warning, they take it as a guide and make the president subject to the daily Two Minutes Hate required towards all enemies of the reigning regime.

That coarsening of debate brings a dark instinctual emotion to the forefront and our media masters know emotional voters are easier to convince than logical and empirical voters.

Contrast that with a pop culture so deep in the gutter, so generally bereft of meaning or gravitas, that the policy mutterings from the likes of a fake Jake LaMotta are given standing ovations from his equally fake peers but completely disregarded by the public at large.

And when that happens? The political needle moves in the president’s direction. One has to believe that certain members of the offending set, or at least their corporate superiors, know this and decry the Newtonian Third Law effect.

But a serious corporate trimming of their sting would incur the ire of the whole nest, followed by ominous declarations of a “chilling effect” and “an end of democracy.”

Instead of an old man striving for relevance by indulging in reactionary hippy theatrics, De Niro might have taken a leaf from his own repertoire and channeled Harry Tuttle one more time. Tuttle was the character in Terry Gilliam’s film “Brazil” who bypasses the orthodoxy and steps in to fix what is broken.

Asking Robert De Niro to take a brave stand against the conformist Tony Award crowd may be asking a lot.

But Lorenzo Anello would have done it.

America • Cities • Department of Homeland Security • Foreign Policy • Immigration • Law and Order • Post

Build the Wall: It’s the Humane Thing to Do

Ask Americans what they think are some of the most violent conflicts in the world, and the usual responses will be Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria. (If they’re really smart, they’ll mention Libya or Yemen). However, I hardly ever hear anyone mention Mexico. That’s a mistake.

After Syria, the drug war in Mexico is the deadliest conflict on the planet—and it is spilling into the United States. This devastating war has been brewing for over a decade and is becoming more of a threat to the safety and security of U.S. communities, especially along the border. Drug cartels count on our porous border to gain access to their largest market: us. They smuggle not only narcotics but also illegal weapons, human body parts, and sex slaves. All of this is turning once safe and peaceful communities into gang-infested war zones.  

For this reason alone, the United States needs to seal the border with Mexico until safety and stability return.

The Rise of the Corrupt Cartels
In December 2006, Mexican President, Felipe Calderon launched Operation Michoacán, a joint operation of the Mexican Federal Police and their military to eliminate drug plantations and drug trafficking in the country, beginning with one of its most volatile states. The goal was to take out the leaders of La Familia Michoacána, a powerful cartel at the time with most of its operations based out of Michoacán.

Calderon and his predecessor, Vicente Fox, were the first presidents of Mexico since 1929 who were not members of the Industrial Revolutionary Party (PRI). Under PRI’s uninterrupted 71-year rule over Mexico, the drug cartels formed and grew powerful because of the central government’s inherent corruption and unwillingness to confront criminal groups that had embedded themselves in the governing apparatuses of the nation. Calderon and Fox ran successfully on an anti-corruption platform.

Following the demise of the Colombian Cali cartel and Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel in the early 1990s, many of the Mexican drug cartels filled the void and took over the illicit drug market. By 2007, Mexico’s cartels controlled 90 percent of the cocaine entering the United States. Over the next decade, the cartels grew even more powerful and influential in Mexican society. Murder rates reached all-time highs and, according to one report by PBS Frontline, between the years of 2007 and 2014 there were more cartel-related deaths in Mexico than war-related deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

These powerful criminal enterprises are now so out of control they have driven local communities to form their own self-defense militias, known as “autodefensas” because the local police are corrupt and do the bidding of local drug kingpins. This is especially prevalent in Michoacán, which has some of the worst cartel violence in the country despite the government’s efforts there. Moreover, and not surprisingly, some of these vigilante groups organized to fight the cartels have also been corrupted and now do the bidding of the drug lords.  In many cases, these groups have allowed criminals into their ranks and have even begun to fight amongst each other, leading to even more violence and murder.

International Terrorism and a Silent Coup
In addition, the cartels have had the help of international actors. The Zetas Cartel, one of the most powerful and ruthless in Mexico, has enlisted the help of the Lebanon-based, Shia Islamic terror group Hezbollah, which has provided weapons and training. Hezbollah terrorists have been assisting with drug trafficking, as well as instructing cartel members how to make IEDs (improvised explosive devices) to use against rivals. In exchange for the weapons and training, Hezbollah has benefited by piggybacking on cartel smugglers to infiltrate and operate within the United States.

The Sinaloa and Zetas cartels, among others, manipulate politicians and in some cases directly control cities, forcing communities to pay dues, their own form of taxation. These cartels are in a constant power struggle for control over politicians, police, and the military and often resort to full-scale battles with authorities.

Mexico, in many respects, is a full-scale war zone. This type of violence has gone beyond our southern neighbor and has even affected communities in the United States to the point where cartels are actually attempting to implement control over American communities. With all the issues in the world, many Americans seem not to realize the magnitude of one of the most dangerous and violent conflicts, one that is right at our doorstep and must be stopped.

Trouble North of the Border
On the American side of the border, the cartels’ activities have begun to cause direct harm to Americans right in our own backyard. One of many examples are the stories of U.S. ranchers and farmers along the border who have had to resort to arming and protecting themselves from drug runners and human traffickers who have no regard for private property. Many of them have been warned by cartels not to call the border patrol when they are trafficking across their farmland, otherwise they or their family members may be killed. In one specific case, workers on a sugarcane field in Hidalgo County, Texas were told by cartel members to stop harvesting the crop “or else,” because the sugarcane provides cover for cartel drug smugglers.

Not only is this ongoing drug war a terrible burden both to the stability and security of the United States, it is also destroying the stability, security, and morality of an entire generation of Mexicans who have known nothing but drug violence and killing their entire lives.

It has sparked a new subculture among youth, who view the cartel kingpins as idols. An entire new genre of music called “narcocorridos” or drug ballads has been created because the war has had such an impact on Mexican society. This new genre of music, as well as the supposed glamorous narco lifestyle, is affecting young Mexicans’ cultural outlook in a negative manner. Where many had lacked an identity or niche, they now do with the trendy narco-culture which has been romanticized through pop culture. This will have long-lasting effects on Mexican society if the drug war continues, and there seems to be no end in sight.

How the Wall Would Help
The unfortunate reality is the United States absolutely needs to seal the border with Mexico. The drug war is far too dangerous a conflict to ignore. Drug traffickers threaten the lives of Americans, operate with Hezbollah infiltrating the United States, and bring illegal weapons to sell on the black market, which contributes to inner-city gang violence. Refusing to act out the fear of being labelled a racist is not an option. It has come to the point where we need fully militarized fortifications with 24-hour supervision and surveillance along the whole southern U.S. border.

The need is not fueled by the families and workers who wish to come here to escape the violence and find a better life. Their hopes for escape are completely understandable, but among the communities of those families and workers are the criminals, the rapists, and the murders who President Trump so “notoriously” mentioned. Until we see an end to the incessant violence, mass corruption, and narco-culture that has taken over Mexican society, we have to do what we can to keep these elements out of our own country.

Mexico has potential to be a stable, peaceful nation with a strong economy, like many of its Latin American counterparts such as Panama, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Chile. It has a long way to go, however, and a mountain of problems to address before that happens. We cannot and should not allow their problems become our own, at the expense of our national security and the safety of our communities.

In the long term, moreover, attention to border security will have a negative effect on the cartels’ ability to bring in revenue, as their largest export market, the United States, would become much more difficult to access. What would be the consequence of starving the cartels of their wealth? The extravagant lifestyles of cartel leaders, politicians, the military, and police that are supported by the drug trade would come to an abrupt and painful halt. The potential carnage following this will tear the powerful cartels apart. But Mexicans would have the potential to make Mexico great again.

Photo credit: David Maung/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Administrative State • America • Asia • Congress • Department of Homeland Security • Donald Trump • Immigration • Law and Order • Middle East • Post • separation of powers • Terrorism • The Constitution • The Courts

Should the Supreme Court Run U.S. Immigration Policy?

In Wednesday’s oral arguments in Trump v. Hawaii, the case involving the third version of President Trump’s “travel ban” on immigrants from certain countries, the Supreme Court tried to pin down a great deal of evasiveness about a simply worded statute, and, in the end, fundamental questions about judicial supremacy.

On September 27, President Trump issued an executive order and proclamation indefinitely suspending entry into the country from six Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Chad—and two non-Muslim-majority countries—North Korea and Venezuela. The 20-page proclamation, which includes specific findings with respect to each country, has the purpose of “detecting entry into the United States by terrorists or other public-safety threats.”

Two previous versions of the proclamation had generated a great deal of public controversy, and the third was no exception. None of the three proclamations have included the words “Muslim” or “religion,” but, nevertheless, all have been extensively portrayed as being motivated by the president’s alleged antagonism to Muslims. And federal district and appeals courts have not hesitated to add fuel to that fire. For example, the federal district court in Hawaii ruled that the second order “was issued with a purpose to disfavor Muslims.” This week’s oral arguments came to the Supreme Court from the decision of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which imposed a “worldwide” injunction against enforcing the president’s order and proclamation.

President Trump issued the proclamation pursuant to a provision, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), entitled “Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President,” of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that by its explicit terms bestows an extraordinary degree of executive power on the president to deal with national-security and foreign-policy emergencies and exigencies involving immigration:

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate. (emphases added)

In defense of the proclamation, Solicitor General Noel Francisco opened his argument yesterday by pointing to the law and stating “the proclamation reflects a policy and national security judgment that falls well within the president’s power under 1182(f) and has been successful, which is why the country of Chad has been dropped from the list.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor pointed out that Congress had written sections of the INA listing specific rationales for excluding aliens and also allowing certain waivers to exclusion. But, like the Ninth Circuit in its decision, neither justice seemed willing to concede that Congress had also written section 1182(f) granting the power to the president to protect “the interests of the United States” as “he may deem to be appropriate.”

Francisco downplayed the full extent of the power granted to the president by section 1182(f). Instead, he repeatedly emphasized that the secretary of Homeland Security had recommended the proclamation to the president after a “worldwide multi-agency review applying neutral standards.” As for Trump’s campaign statements about Muslims, Francisco, replied that a politician is a private citizen before he takes office and that the only statements after the oath of office is taken are “constitutionally significant acts.” He argued that any such statements by President Trump do not “address the meaning of the proclamation itself,” which “excludes the vast majority of the Muslim world” and “omits Muslim-majority countries that were covered by past Orders.”

Neal Katyal, an Indian immigrant, specialist in immigration law, and a private lawyer at a Washington law firm, spoke for the state of Hawaii. He argued essentially that Congress, in enacting the INA, had already considered the issues presented in the proclamation and chosen to address those issues by establishing an immigration system whereby potentially dangerous aliens had to go through an “individualized vetting process,” with the result that there could be no bans on admission into the country based “on nationality discrimination.” The president, he said, had violated the separation of powers and contravened these legislative decisions of the Congress.

Throughout his presentation, Katyal more or less denied the plain words of section 1182(f) which empower the president to act about “any class” of aliens. He wanted to take up the argument that President Trump intended to discriminate against the Muslim religion in violation of the Establishment Clause, but the justices never allowed him to develop that position. The Ninth Circuit had heard extensive arguments on the Establishment Clause issue but had declined to rule on it.

Chief Justice John Roberts repeatedly challenged Katyal as to when and how a president could act in an emergency in the field of immigration law if section 1182(f) did not allow him to do so. And Justice Anthony Kennedy followed that inquiry up by asking whether it is the province of the courts “to review whether or not there is such a national contingency” about immigration. Katyal’s answer was that potentially dangerous aliens seeking admittance should be “individually vetted,” and if that does not prove feasible on a large scale, to go back to the Congress with proposed legislative changes.

Justice Samuel Alito asked “whether any reasonable observer reading this proclamation” could “think this was a Muslim ban?” He said that there are 50 Muslim countries in the world but only “five predominantly Muslim countries are on this list.” Justice Neil Gorsuch wondered how and why a lower federal court could issue “a cosmic injunction” in the area of immigration and why domestic third parties should be allowed “to assert the rights of aliens who are not present in this country.”

In his rebuttal, Francisco clarified what the law has to say about the supposed “ban on nationality discrimination.” He flatly stated that there is no such thing. A certain provision of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1152(a)(1) bans discrimination concerning “the issuance of immigrant visas,” he said. “It doesn’t address the broader question over whether somebody is allowed to enter in the first place.”

Indeed, Francisco could have elaborated that a “visa” is a temporary pass to enter the country. It does not allow a person to become a permanent resident. And it is issued only after the approval of a petition, which is subject to other provisions of the INA like section 1182(f), by a family member or other legal sponsor.

Katyal eventually conceded that he “could imagine an emergency situation” in which section 1182(f) would allow the president extra powers, but he repeatedly argued that in this case it had been “460 days” since President Trump had issued the proclamation, and that no emergency had occurred. Overall, then, the state of Hawaii has proclaimed that it knows and will define the criteria for, and length of, a foreign-policy emergency and that the Supreme Court should do the same.

Photo credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Administrative State • Deep State • Department of Homeland Security • Deterrence • Donald Trump • Free Speech • Infrastructure • Libertarians • military • Post • Progressivism • Silicon Valley • taxes • Technology • The Left • The Media

Trump Is Right to Fear Amazon

President Trump’s feud with the shopping giant Amazon is both welcome and overdue. Welcome, because Amazon’s ambitions extend well beyond the monopoly power that Trump has presciently warned about in recent months. Overdue, because while Trump has been complaining about the company since August, his complaints only lately reached the level of alarm that is actually warranted by the rise of the online shopping giant.

And make no mistake, Amazon’s rise warrants both political and economic alarm. The protestations of partisan fact checkers notwithstanding, a few things are obvious about Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos. First, as even the fact checkers admit, Amazon does not pay taxes on roughly half the sales that go through it—namely, the sales that take place through third-party sellers.

Second, Amazon gets a special rate from the U.S. Postal Service compared to other companies—an implicit form of favoritism that most definitely advantages the company, seeing as they send about 40 percent of their sales through the mail.

Third, retailers that do not compete with Amazon have had a better time of it economically than competitors that do. Granted, this last point can be chalked up to more than just competition with Amazon, but taken with the other facts, it most definitely lends credence to the argument that Amazon is beginning to become dangerously overpowered in today’s market. Nor does it help Amazon’s case that Bezos is indisputably, and by a wide margin, the richest man on earth.

Further, Trump’s political arguments against Amazon and Bezos carry a particular sting. No other tech billionaire owns a major paper of record with the pedigree of the Washington Post. The closest equivalent is Chris Hughes, who though he once owned The New Republic, sold it in 2016. But even if he still owned it, The New Republic carries a well-known partisan slant and always had a specialized audience. The Post broke the Watergate story. The two aren’t remotely comparable in terms of reputation or influence upon the popular imagination.

So, naturally, Trump’s decision to attack the Post as a “lobbyist” for Bezos has drawn blood, as it should. All the indignation of the paper’s editors aside, It is hard to imagine how the Post could scrutinize Bezos at all, what with it being his money that sustains them. For any paper to have its hands tied in dealing with the richest man on earth is cause for concern, but when their motto is “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” well, it looks even worse.

Nor is it only the Post that Bezos aspires to use to control the flow of information. Indeed, there is one way that President Trump could easily cut off Amazon’s rapidly rising power at the knees, and prevent it from acquiring even more. He could direct Defense Secretary James Mattis not to migrate all the Defense Department’s data to the Amazon Cloud.

The plan to get the Pentagon to migrate its data is something Mattis’s department has been attempting to execute for the past few months, often at the bidding of former Amazon employees. It would probably be the single biggest coup that the shopping giant could pull off, both economically and politically. Economically, it would land Amazon an actual (if also, technically, virtual) monopoly on cloud services, effectively ending the quest for innovation in that sphere. Politically, it would hand them control of all the Defense Department’s top secret data: not exactly a reassuring state of affairs, should Amazon ever decide it wants to punish President Trump or weaken his government. Say, because of a few tweets that tanked their stocks?

So yes, Trump is right to be worried about Amazon, not least of all because the company and its leaders are trying to buy his government out from under him, and to hound him out of that government in the pages of D.C.’s major paper of record. Trump owes it to his convictions and his constituencies to stop the entrenchment of Amazon as the de facto owners not just of online retail, but of the swamp itself.

After all, a swamp controlled by Amazon is a swamp that no one, except Jeff Bezos, will ever have the right to drain. Least of all the American people.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Congress • Democrats • Department of Homeland Security • Donald Trump • Government Reform • Greatness Agenda • Immigration • military • Post • Republicans • separation of powers • The Media • Trump White House

With Omnibus, Trump Makes the Best of a Bad Situation

People are unhappy about the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, and just so. But while this anger at the president for signing the legislation is reasonable, President Trump is not to blame for the situation that created it, no matter how much the NeverTrump crowd insists that he is. It’s possible the omnibus could provide the president the key to accomplishing his most important goal.

After his initial hint that he would veto the bill, the president ultimately signed it while reaffirming he was “unhappy” and “disappointed” with various provisions. While the bill does include funding for some key areas of Trump’s agendaincluding border security and fighting the opioid epidemiche insists it does not do enough for immigration enforcement. His main reason for signing was the huge appropriation for the military: $700 billion, the largest increase in defense spending in 15 years.

Trump signed, but with plenty of misgivings toward Congress, which must pass another funding bill in September. He warned that he would “never sign another bill like this again.”

Trouble is, this bill had broad bipartisan support. In the House, 145 Republicans and 111 Democrats voted yes, for a total of 256 overall “Yea” votes; 90 Republicans and 77 Democrats voted “No,” with three Republicans and four Democrats not voting. In the Senate, 65 senators voted in favor of the legislation: 25 Republicans, 39 Democrats, and one Independent. Only 23 Republicans, eight Democrats, and one Independent voted “No,” with three Republicans not voting.

One Man Alone Could Have Fixed It
Of course, there was a brief period when all it would have taken was one brave legislator to stop the entire bill. At the moment of the vote to allow the bill to proceed, when Senate rules say the vote must be unanimous.

It was here that most eyes turned to the one man who had been the bill’s loudest critic: Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.). He had repeatedly criticized the bill on Twitter, supported a possible veto, and threatened a potential shutdown over it.

For all his posturing, what did the quasi-libertarian senator do? He voted yes along with everyone else to let the vote proceed. At that point, his vote against the final bill was mere symbolism. So much for Paul and his “principles.”

After the omnibus passed, Congress immediately left town for a two-week recess. That meant if Trump had vetoed the bill, nobody would have been in town to renegotiate. The government would have “shut down”—though as we all know by now, a “shutdown” is never really what the doomsayers make it out to be.

Nevertheless, shutdowns make for “bad optics,” as the flacks say. The president would have had no political cover, unlike earlier in the year when Democrats forced a shutdown over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Despite their best effort to paint lawbreakers as victims and Trump as a monster, the Democrats and their allies in the kept media lost the shutdown battle and caved quickly. This time, the focus would have been on Trump exclusively.

But the president had another problem: given the margin of “yeas,” there was a strong likelihood that the Republican-controlled Congress would have overridden the Republican president’s veto. Trump didn’t need that kind of embarrassment, especially with a highly anticipated summit with North Korea in the works.

A Possible Silver Lining
Instead, the president did the honorable thing—or the closest thing to it under the circumstances. He refused to stoop to the same level as the Democrats and shutdown the government when doing so would have held the military hostage. He had only two options: Veto the bill, hurt the military, temporarily shut down the government before eventually being overridden, and divide the base; or pass the bill, and divide the base.

Given the choice, it’s clear he made the best of a rotten situation, blasting Congress and warning he won’t sign another garbage bill. He didn’t just put Democrats on notice, either. The Republican establishment is in his crosshairs, too.

Even with a spending bill as bad as this, there may be a redeeming factor that overcomes so much bloat and pork.

The reality is, Congress provided billions for improvements to the existing border fence, but included no money for a border wall specifically. Does it matter? During his signing speech on Friday, Trump hinted at something extraordinary: He could classify the border wall as a national security issue. That would then place the multibillion-dollar project under the purview of the Pentagon, with construction by the Army Corps of Engineers, once the president settles on one of eight design prototypes. During his trip to the border in California earlier this month, Trump seemed to hint at which of the eight designs he would pick.

On Sunday, the president was more explicit on Twitter:

Again: the omnibus allocated $700 billion in defense spending. The White House has been considering the use of defense dollars to build the wall since last summer. All that was missing was the money. Now that Congress has approved a massive hike in defense, Trump may have the means to a very important, highly coveted end. Congress would howl, but it just might work.

Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

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Impeach the Democratic Party!

On February 7th, the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, the epitome of a San Francisco liberal, treated America to an 8-hour lecture on why young illegal immigrants who benefited from President Obama’s (unconstitutional) DACA program should be allowed to stay in this country. Her speech marked the culmination of the Democratic Party’s bizarre pivot from its historical role of representing its constituents and (progressively-minded) U.S. citizens to representing illegal aliens instead. Pelosi reached a rhetorical crescendo when she recalled that her grandson had once declared that he wished he “had brown skin and brown eyes.” Seldom has the House of Representatives witnessed so touching an homage to the beauty and nobility (as liberals see it) of reverse racism.

The Honorable Congresswoman is entitled to her warped progressivism and her fashionable racism, however. This is still a free country, after all. What she is not entitled to, and what no Democrat is entitled to, is the active and purposeful subversion of U.S. laws. Democrats, lest we forget, are itching to impeach President Trump for allegedly obstructing justice in the course of the Mueller investigation into Russian election meddling. Trump’s “obstruction,” however, consists of criticism directed at an inquiry that is demonstrably flawed and biased, whereas his administration has complied with all of its legal obligations and fully cooperated with the special counsel’s office. Democrats, though, should begin to ask themselves: now that hurling charges of “obstruction of justice” is politically en vogue, could they be targeted too? The answer is yes, and the opportunity is close at hand.

The Democratic Party is pathologically obsessed with making excuses for illegal immigrants. Moreover, its reverse racism leads it increasingly to reject even the possibility that a single illegal immigrant could be criminally-minded or in any way “undesirable.” To make this suggestion even as a hypothetical is to invite derision and/or ostracism in liberal circles.

Since illegal immigrants are now officially beyond reproach, Democratic politicians have taken the logical next step: they have implemented “sanctuary city” policies in jurisdictions nationwide in order to frustrate the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. Just recently, it was reported that the NYPD, acting under orders from Democratic politicians, has refused to comply with federal requests to hand over 1,500 illegal alien criminals for deportation. This is but the tip of the iceberg. “Blue” cities, counties, and states have implemented policies that explicitly discourage cooperation with ICE and the Border Patrol, and which in fact punish such cooperation; they have funded legal aid and other forms of assistance for illegal immigrants attempting to evade deportation; and they have given every encouragement to present and future illegal immigrants, promising them sanctuary from federal authorities.

The purpose of all this policy-making and posturing on the part of Democrats is obvious: it is to obstruct the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws! By contrast, President Trump has never suggested that laws against electoral interference, espionage, or treason should not be enforced—he has simply stated that he is innocent of all of these crimes. Democrats, on the other hand, brazenly admit their contempt for the law, and they flaunt their efforts to stymie its enforcement.

It is important to clarify the fact that harboring and giving assistance to illegal immigrants is already a crime in itself (see U.S. Code, Title 8, Section 1324), but systematic Democratic efforts to subvert, even nullify, our country’s borders and immigration laws seem to me like another form of criminality: they represent a conspiracy to obstruct justice much more shocking and elaborate than anything of which Republicans stand accused.

Long ago, I argued that the Department of Justice should prosecute Democratic politicians who openly violate Title 8 of the U.S. Code. The law specifies a penalty of up to 5 years’ imprisonment. If these penalties were applied, presumably the Democratic penchant for obstructing justice when it comes to immigration laws would evaporate overnight. That would be good for America, and it would be great for the Democratic Party, the legitimacy of which might thereby be restored.

Until the Justice Department acts, however, the House of Representatives should consider pursuing the political remedy of impeachment against those who undermine our laws. Judges, federal officials, and members of Congress who seek to obstruct the implementation of U.S. immigration laws should be subject to investigation, impeachment, trial in the Senate, and removal from office (or, depending on the circumstances, expulsion from Congress might be more appropriate).

After all, surely the actual crimes of Democrats deserve as much attention as the imaginary crimes of Republicans. That is not asking for much, is it?

The Democratic Party sorely needs a dose of reality, and the only thing that is preventing Republicans from administering it is the fear of a public backlash. The maintenance of our constitutional system of government demands that we act to preserve respect for the law, however. And let’s be clear: the law is, and always has been, on our side.

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ICE Troubles With Terrorism

An audit by the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is facing a variety of challenges, particularly with implementing the Known or Suspected Terrorist Encounter Protocol (KSTEP). KSTEP allows a myriad of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to coordinate and streamline the “protocol for identifying and processing aliens who are known or suspected terrorists.”

ICE can only screen immigrants while they are in custody. As of June 2017, just 33,701 of 2.4 million—about 1.4 percent—of all immigrants actively monitored by ICE and Immigration Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) were subject to KSTEP screening for connections to known or suspected terrorists. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that “some law enforcement agencies will not honor ICE immigration detainer requests,” thereby preventing ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) from taking custody of criminal aliens for KSTEP screening.

From January 2014 through May 2017, approximately 675 jurisdictions nationwide refused to honor more than 29,269 ICE immigration detainer requests. When a state or local law enforcement agency declines to transfer custody of a removable criminal alien to ICE, the released alien may put the public and ERO personnel at risk and it then requires significantly more resources to bring the individual into ICE custody.

California denied 11 ICE detainer requests, the majority for immigrants convicted of violent crimes, between January and February 2017, taking the cake for most detainer requests declined, 3,348, between 2015 and 2017. So-called “Sanctuary Cities,” having been specifically designed to limit or prohibit immigration authorities, were the worst offenders.

The DHS audit found that in a sampling of 40 case files of detained immigrants identified as known or suspected terrorists, “all had at least one instance of noncompliance with KSTEP policy.” Noncompliance with KSTEP included failures inappropriate application of background checks or outright failure to utilize them, inadequately confirming or denying aliens as known or suspected terrorists, and failure to appropriately document and report “aliens confirmed as known or suspected terrorists.”

While still a senator, current Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly warned former President Obama of critical weaknesses in United States interior security. On at least three occasions, the Obama administration refused “to provide details on the immigration histories of terrorists convicted in the United States.” In a letter obtained by Fox News, Senators Sessions and Ted Cruz implored Obama to cooperate with immigration authorities. Sessions said:

[T]hese data make clear that the United States not only lacks the ability to properly screen individuals prior to their arrival but also that our nation has an unprecedented assimilation problem.

Sessions’ Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest revealed that between September 2001 and December 2014, 580 people were convicted of terrorism in the United States—the vast majority of which were foreign-born. Between 2009 and 2014, the United States rewarded green cards to approximately 832,000 individuals from Muslim-majority countries, including 3,887 Syrian refugees in 2016—of whom only 23 were not Muslim—to say nothing of persecuted Syrian Christians in dire need of aid.

Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are all experiencing the same security concerns as the United States over the growing problem of domestic terrorism. Despite the objections of organizations dependant on identity politics for their existence, like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, national security concerns are not rooted in bigotry. Such objections are supported by stories like that of the New York City woman who claimed men on a subway train shouted “Trump,” “terrorist,” and “Go back to your country” at her. The only problem is that her story, like so many of its kind, turned out to be a hoax, Fox News Insider reported:

Further investigation brought authorities to the conclusion that Yasmin Seweid fabricated the encounter and they subsequently charged her with filing a false report and obstructing government administration.

Yasmin Seweid admitted she made up the story because she did not want to be in trouble with her family for staying out late, Abby Huntsman reported.

The Trump administration has its work cut out for it but appears to be on the right track by acknowledging national security concerns and taking steps to address them.