Let’s get something straight at the outset: I am a child of immigrants and a first-generation American. I need no convincing that America was built by people from other lands. The Pilgrims, Puritans, Calvinists and Quakers did a nice job during those early American Thanksgivings, but without the industry, initiative and intelligence of immigrants who started arriving in ever increasing numbers from the 1880s until after World War II, the United States would simply be another Canada—with far fewer decorous people.
And yet, the sprawling crisis along our southern border, with two million immigrants having crossed into and remained in the United States over the past two years, is a desecration of American law and moral principle—despite what the Biden administration says.
Actually, the Biden White House will say almost anything to minimize and obscure the unfolding catastrophe. Officially, the Department of Homeland Security has decreed the border to be closed. Vice-President Kamala Harris has reassured us that the border is secure. That’s not, however, what drone-mounted video cameras are capturing daily—despite the mainstream media’s aversion to showing it.
These are all the same people who recoil at the suggestion that the 2020 election left some questions unanswered. They are also indignantly insistent that the Black Lives Matter protests were “mostly peaceful.” Apparently, those raging fires emanating from police cars and precincts were merely summer cookouts.
Double standards, over time, become singular sins. We are being fed talking points, not truths. Truth, apparently, is too unbearable in such a polarized political culture. But here are three truths:
Donald Trump lost the election.
Since the murder of George Floyd, a good deal of criminal violence has been excused in the name of racial justice.
And while we have been distracted by COVID and congressional hearings, our southern perimeter has descended into absolute anarchy. Without any knocks on our door, there are suddenly more people living among us, and we don’t even know their names.
This isn’t about building a wall. We’re way too late for that. We’ve been left with a borderline border, if it is a border at all. Given that we’re unwilling to enforce our immigration laws, it’s now more than politically incorrect to refer to immigrants as illegal. At a certain point, a law is not broken if it goes perpetually unenforced.
Who needs documents if one lives in America?
The Biden administration is turning the memory of Ellis Island into a trashy Manic Kingdom, a Green Card Lotto with the masses no longer huddling but in an all-out sprint.
The numbers are real, and alarming. In 2020, there were 646,000 attempted illegal border crossings. That number jumped to two million in 2021. This year, with many months still left to go, those border encounters have already exceeded two million. It is estimated that 1.2 million were permitted to remain in the United States pending the outcome of their asylum applications. But that doesn’t account for those who crossed the border undetected and who will remain forever undocumented.
Meanwhile, 650 have been found dead at the border. Hundreds of drug busts did not offset the countless other instances where narcotics were smuggled across the border—a murderous invasion that has contributed to America’s worsening opioid crisis. Immigrants are undocumented, and so, too, has been the underreported story.
And with two million new immigrants living in the United States, some with criminal records, and many who have already been deported and yet managed to return, it’s only a matter of time before a violent crime will occur (if it hasn’t already), one that could have been averted.
With the Biden administration insisting that the border is closed, and the media loath to show images of just how wide open it is, no national conversation has been undertaken about these passive immigration policies. At least Europeans debated the morality and merits of the Syrian Refugee Crisis. They are now living with the consequences, but they knew what might be coming.
Border states such as Texas and Arizona are showing a determination to disperse the problem to more progressively-minded cities. Like with most things, however, progress has many meanings. It should come as no surprise that those city governments are sympathetic to immigrants so long as they live elsewhere. The mayor of Washington, D.C., has called for the National Guard to help manage 4,000 asylum seekers who have arrived since April. New York City’s mayor resents having to shelter 2,800 immigrants with an already overburdened social services system.
With cashless bail and a borderless bottom, the deck is suddenly stacked with get-out-of-jail free cards. Such gratuities cheapen national priorities and undermine all notions of fundamental fairness.
On the other hand, just imagine the windfall at the ballot box with all these potentially new Americans voting by mail and beholden to the Democratic Party.
Yes, we are a nation of immigrants with a soft spot for refugees and an aversion to xenophobic, jingoistic rhetoric of the kind Donald Trump speaks all too fluently. It took a while for coastal elites to realize what “Replacement Theory” meant, and what the Charlottesville protestors were reciting with such bigoted gusto. For them, Jews represented a dangerously pro-immigration constituency.
From a nation of laws, we have plummeted to a country in chaos. Under what moral principle should our border not be guarded and our immigration laws not enforced? And what twisted theory of asylum allows immigrants to cross borders without having to prove why they are seeking a safe haven?
Waiting one’s turn is not a racist concept. It’s how sensible immigration policy works all over the world. There is no automatic right to becoming an American, and residency shouldn’t be so casually distributed to those who dodge legal ports of entry. When floodgates open, there has to be a reason.
Have we been given one?
Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist, law professor and Distinguished University Professor at Touro College, where he directs the Forum on Life, Culture & Society. His latest work, “Saving Free Speech … from Itself,” was just published. He can be reached via his website.
This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.