In their latest unbiased, dispassionate look at the weighty issues of the day, the editorial board at the Washington Post has decided to tackle the illegal alien problem with a piece titled, Immigration in Reverse. This one was worth a peek, if only for the number of logical breakdowns which take place along the way, but also for the way they choose to once again label anyone who supports border control or has questions about Syrian “refugees” flooding the nation as “nativists.”
THE ANTI-ILLEGAL immigrant rancor and outright nativism afoot in the Republican primary field give rise to the impression that illegal immigration has soared to unprecedented levels and that the border is no more than a line in the sand, scarcely monitored and easily crossed. The truth diverges wildly from that rhetoric, as a pair of recent studies demonstrate.
Notwithstanding the demagoguery of Donald Trump and some of his GOP rivals, the number of illegal immigrants in this country, which has declined each year since 2008, is now at its lowest level since 2003, and the percentage of undocumented immigrants likewise is at its lowest point since the turn of the century.
The editorial relies on some data from two studies which purport to pin hard numbers on the volume of people engaged in illegal activity. It’s a sketchy bit of science on the best of days, but let’s assume that at least the trends are running in the correct direction. Perhaps there are fewer illegal aliens in the country (in total) right now than a few years ago. All that means is that some progress is being made, but even taking the WaPo’s numbers at face value you’re still talking about more than ten million criminals. How that’s supposed to make anyone sleep better at night or look differently at the illegal immigration battle is a mystery.
It’s also worth highlighting the great pains the editors go to and the hoops they jump through in order to avoid referring to these people in a legally correct fashion. Shockingly, they do manage to stutter out the phrase “illegal immigrants” in the second paragraph, but it skews wildly after that. Mexican immigration… undocumented immigrants… Mexican-born immigrants, roughly half of them undocumented. It’s almost painful to read.
But their final pitch in the article may be the most baffling. They want all of your nativists to know that if you keep up your shenanigans, we may run out of illegals before too long.
Republican rhetoric on immigration has not caught up to those numbers, nor to the reality that the U.S. economy, like other Western economies, cannot function without low-wage, low-skill labor, which Mexico has supplied. An estimate 7 million-plus undocumented immigrants, most of them Mexicans, are employed in this country. Mr. Trump’s fantasies of mass deportation notwithstanding, they will not be replaced by native-born Americans. At some point, Republicans will need to grapple with that reality.
Wait… you’re describing Mexicans as people with low skills who should be willing to work for peanuts? Isn’t that a little, er… racist?
This argument comes across as yet another parallel to the discussions we’ve been having here about the Syrian flood currently washing over the European Union. There’s nothing inherently “wrong” with having nationalist tendencies and valuing the culture of your nation. Some nations are a bit more homogeneous, such as Japan, while others are more diverse. America, for example, has a broad spectrum of cultures from the west coast to the northeast and the deep south. But you find Americans in all those places who will stand by their fellow citizens from other parts of the country rather than embracing some interloper with an ISIS flag showing up in the neighborhood.
The national temperature has been shifting on this question, with less and less tolerance for foreign threats and the undermining of our culture. The Washington Post’s editors are coming down on the wrong side of history on this one and may soon be left behind.