By Garrett Ziegler
Illegal immigration was, according to various political analysts, the key issue—save trade—that propelled Trump to the White House. In June 2015, when he suggested that the Mexican government was complicit in sending drug lords and other known criminals across our porous southern border, many people were shocked to find millions cheering his words. The usual suspects—racism, xenophobia, nativism—were deployed by commentators to “explain” Trump’s attraction and growing support for his stances on illegal immigration. Trump’s opponents often fail to distinguish between legal and illegal immigration in an effort to erode the fact that illegally crossing a nation’s border is not, as Jeb! put it, an act of love.
While Senator Tom Cotton and others believe that legal immigration should be scaled back (wages have been stagnant for low-skilled workers for decades), my goal is to describe one aspect of the illegal immigration discussion that seems to go unnoticed. The injustice suffered by the millions of law-abiding immigrants is abominable. When basic rule of law is ignored, and in the case of sanctuary cities even encouraged by the neo-confederate nullifying Left, the incentives to follow said law diminish, and chaos ensues. The chaos does not ensue in rich, elite enclaves (hence the Wall Street Editorial Board outrage over Trump’s wall), but in poor neighborhoods. Take a drive through California’s Central Valley if you dispute this fact.
Immigration, throughout our country’s history, has been a story of ebbs and flows. The sovereign people of the United States have the sole right to decide who and who cannot enter their country. Said another way, the immigration policy of the United States should serve the interests (both economic and security) of the citizens of the United States. Ellis Island in its heyday welcomed millions of Europeans eager to assimilate and succeed, and, on the other hand, the closed borders approach of the post WWI years made sense. This is fundamental in any political community, but in the present time—with inanities such as #NotMyPresident and “cisgenderism”—the fundamentals appear radical.
If an immigrant meets the criteria set forth by the American people, he or she will have inevitably jumped through numerous and considerable hoops to secure the privilege of citizenship. This arduous process can take years and trees of paperwork to complete. Our current immigration system does not appreciate the law-abiding people who want to immigrate, assimilate, learn English and love America. Instead, our flaccid approach to law enforcement is wreaking havoc on many poor communities. Jonathan Haidt, a social scientist at New York University, writes extensively about the human need to live in a coherent moral order. If anyone disputes this need, take a trip to a multiethnic European migrant shelter. The conflict and general hysteria that has resulted from unassimilated groups being forced to live in close quarters should give credence to Haidt’s findings. We desperately need to address this injustice, and Trump was alone among candidates for high office to speak out, however inarticulately, against this disaster.
Garrett is a junior at Saint Louis University and studies economics. He is an ISI Honors Scholar and member of SLU’s Entrepreneurship Club. He has interned with Representative John Shimkus, Governor Eric Greitens, and the Mercatus Center. Garrett is originally from the small town of Altamont, Illinois, and he plans to attend law school.