Americans of all political stripes agree: the scene at our southern border is disturbing and unacceptable. As we’ve come to expect in these hyper-partisan times, however, that’s as far as the agreement goes.
America splits sharply over the story we’re watching unfold with two broad storylines emerging: the Trump view and the Resistance view. Anyone interested in understanding which of these stories is closer to the truth must review them both.
President Trump has laid out a coherent understanding of the immigration challenge: The United States is an exceptional country. It values freedom, personal responsibility, and hard work, while retaining a strong sense of generosity and compassion. People from around the world want to come to the U.S., perhaps to become Americans.
Many have excellent motivations and many elicit compassion: Some are fleeing oppression to seek the refuge the U.S. has long granted immigrants. Others appreciate that America provides unique opportunities for advancement; they seek the American dream for themselves and their children.
Others possess far more dangerous motives: Some seek new venues for crime and terrorism. Some want to freeload off the generosity of American taxpayers. And some want to turn the U.S. into something closer to the society they are leaving.
Under current law, it is painfully difficult to differentiate among the various groups of new arrivals.
President Trump has called for a comprehensive reform package that will allow us to control our borders and vet those who want to enter. Proper vetting will turn away those with dubious motives, while admitting those most deserving of America’s opportunities and helping them integrate into American society. Once we have such a system in place, the president has called for the compassionate integration of all decent immigrants living in our midst, regardless of the legality with which they arrived.
Ever since the campaign, Donald Trump has had a metaphor for this system: “A high wall with a big beautiful door.”
To the Resistance — Democrats and the Mainstream Media — things look very different: The U.S. is an oppressive, racist society, teetering on the verge of fascism, and intent upon perpetuating systemic inequality. Still — for undisclosed and undiscussed reasons — life in many other countries is even worse. Government corruption and oppression has been so bad in some of these countries, that even those fortunate enough to have moved into a socialist utopia (e.g., Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua) have been unable to recover.
Though it is wrong — racist, in fact — to suggest that any of these countries are terrible places to live, it is important to recognize that the masses of people fleeing them at risk to their lives do so because of the perpetual, pervasive threat to their safety.
Upon escaping their native countries — which again, are in no sense lesser places than the U.S. — many of them arrive in countries like Mexico (or in another region, Turkey or Lebanon). While every international treaty requires bona fide asylum seekers to request asylum in the first country they land where safety is possible, relatively few do so.
Apparently, Mexico is far too dangerous, corrupt, and crime-ridden to confer the sense of safety these refugees require. Sadly, asylum seekers cannot make this argument explicitly, because any intimation that Mexico is dangerous, corrupt, or crime-ridden is inherently racist. As a result, with the notion of asylum in Mexico being beyond the pale, the only remaining possibility is admission to the U.S.
Under current American law, anyone arriving in the U.S., legally or illegally, is allowed to plead their case for admission. Those who arrive illegally are detained — as befits their status as lawbreakers — while awaiting their hearing. Unlike most criminal detainees, however, they can free themselves at any point by agreeing to leave the U.S. and return home.
Some of those who choose to stay in detention, however, arrive with their children.
On humanitarian grounds, current law prohibits detaining those children with their parents.
That leaves three logical possibilities: turn the parents away without a hearing; allow families to enter the country without a hearing; or have American authorities take temporary custody of the children while the parents voluntarily await their hearings.
Complicating matters, most of the adults arriving with children are not family members. While everyone admits that obscene amounts of human trafficking, slavery, drug running, and prostitution play important roles in the flood of people arriving at our southern border, it is impermissible — unsurprisingly, racist — to suggest that those leading the charge are disproportionately traffickers, slavers, gangs, or pimps.
This framework provided the most recent flareup between the storylines.
The initial Trump view favored taking responsibility for the children and giving every adult a full and fair hearing. In addition to providing decent care and due process, this separation also struck a blow against criminal brutality.
The Resistance demonized this approach, however, arguing in favor of admitting everyone — parents and traffickers alike — into the country without a hearing. Once in, they can be ushered to the nearest sanctuary city, disappear into the ether, and add to the number of illegal aliens operating in the darkness and demanding entitlements.
Therein lies the truth of the immigration debate.
President Trump seeks a system that lets the U.S. select only the best applicants and those genuinely in need of asylum.
The Resistance seeks to open our borders to criminal elements from broken societies whom only racists would regard as criminal elements from broken societies.
Bruce Abramson is the President of Informationism, Inc., Vice President and Director of Policy at the Iron Dome Alliance, and a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. Jeff Ballabon is CEO of B2 Strategic, a Senior Fellow at the American Conservative Union's Center for Statesmanship and Diplomacy, and an advisor to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. To read more of their reports — Click Here Now.
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