The crucial difference between the adversaries in the Feb. 25 Eagle Political Society debate on immigration and border security is that professor Peter Skerry recognizes the costs and burdens of immigration and thus accepts that “restrictions must be put in place…” while professor Kari Hong does not. Instead of saying whether the present level of 1.5 million immigrants each year is too high or too low, she tries to persuade us that all our qualms about massive immigration are misplaced. She further assures us that not that many people want to come here anyway.
“Everybody has an incredible sense of home … people only leave their home if they’re desperate.” Actually, a December 2018 Gallup poll says that 750 million people (more than 10 percent of world population) want to emigrate, with the USA their top destination.
She downplays concerns about immigrant crime. Yet, a 2011 GAO report estimated that illegal aliens (already one fourth of Federal prison inmates) were serving state and Federal prison time for 25,000 homicides, 42,000 robberies, and 70,000 sex crimes. A more recent analysis shows illegal aliens incarcerated far in excess of their share of the population.
I part company with both debaters on the proposed border wall. Hong calls it not only immoral but ineffective. However, countries that erected physical barriers in recent years (e.g., Hungary and Israel) reduced illegal border crossings by 95-100 percent. She also points out that more people now enter the country illegally through visa overstays rather than border crossings. True, but if we allow everyone cross the border at will, is it not likely that many more will come?
In any event, why should a physical barrier on our southern border be morally odious when the first element in securing any border in the world is to permit entry only at authorized crossing points? Any other element of border security,(e.g., biometric tracking, ICE raids or random identity checks) would be more contentious. Would someone who finds a wall immoral accept any of these?
Skerry thinks that the wall, while not immoral, detracts attention from more serious issues. Admittedly, in an ideal world a wall would not be among my 10-highest immigration priorities. In the present world, though, a 1986 Federal law mandated that the border be secured, an achievable goal with present technical and financial resources. Nevertheless, a lobby favoring open borders (politicians seeking new voters, a well-funded “humanitarian” industry and employers seeking cheap labor) has thwarted border security.
No doubt, President Donald Trump is convinced that the way to break the open borders lobby’s stranglehold is to challenge them before the voters, using the wall to frame the issue.
Democratic office holders, presidential aspirants and opinion makers, have increasingly bought the full open borders agenda. Not being quite ready to say this openly, they temporize by calling any concrete action to secure the border unacceptable while their media allies provide cover by chattering about “separating families,” “demonizing immigrants” or the morality of building walls.
No doubt by mid-2020 Democratic candidates will defensively insert a few sentences about “humane border security” into their websites and the presidential nominee will produce a fifteen-point program for humane border security. Then, the voters will decide whether they want the border secured and whom they trust to do it.