Quotes of the day

‘Sit down,’ President Barack Obama begged – not ‘get out’ – after two Hispanic hecklers interrupted his economic speech on Thursday with shouts about illegal immigration…

The White House’s transcript of his remarks in the liberal enclave of Austin, Texas omits what the protesters said, but Obama replied, ‘I understand. See, everybody is going to start – I’m on your side, man. Sit down, guys, we’ll talk about it later, I promise.’


Border Patrol agent Hector Garza stated in an interview on the Thursday broadcast of Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” that the U.S. government is “completing the smuggling cycle” of unaccompanied minors into the United States, and asked “why would anyone want to hire a smuggler when the US government is actually doing it for free?” He stated that “we apprehend [unaccompanied minors] we process these illegals and then release them to their family members in the US we just completed that smuggling cycle.” He also stated the US is giving illegal immigrants from countries other than Mexico a “free pass.”

Garza added that the surge of unaccompanied minors and the violence directed at Border Patrol agents by cartels has placed a strain on the Border Patrol, and as a result “resources are running dry and morale is at a very low level,” but that despite this “agents come to work every day with their head up high.”


Some 3 million of these [unemployed] Americans have college degrees. Another 5.5 million have some college, while 6 million have only a high school diploma and more than 2 million don’t. In short, there are millions of Americans at every educational level who are looking for jobs at every skill level. And that doesn’t count the tens of millions of working-age Americans who aren’t in the labor market at all, having given up long ago.

Among the most neglected in this economy are young Hispanic-American citizens whose broad unemployment rate among those age 18-29 is around 18 percent for those with some college, 27 percent for those with only a high school diploma and 37 percent if they have less than a diploma.

Even more neglected are the young descendants of Americans who suffered in slavery, with the broad unemployment rate around 26 percent for black Americans with some college, 39 percent for those with only a high school diploma and 57 percent for those with less than a diploma…

Just imagine how this nation would change if employers needed labor urgently enough to send armies of recruiters into the inner cities, barrios and depressed rural economies of today. It is an option that now should be in the middle of all immigration debate in Congress.


But it is a sad fact the U.S. government returns migrants to horrible situations every day. Just ask the 1,357 Cuban rafters the Coast Guard plucked from the Caribbean in fiscal 2013. The gang problem is a perennial one in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, not new. By the way, the United States is no perfect safe haven; Central American criminal organizations operate in several big cities.

Those who defend the status quo are defending a system that was well-intended but has proven to be riddled with loopholes that enrich criminal gangs, endanger children and, not incidentally, promote political backlash against immigration — which the United States needs — by associating it in the public mind with border chaos.

The rule of law is one of the benefits immigrants seek in the United States. Step one in dealing with the border crisis should be to reestablish it.


Stopping this wave is not complicated. A serious president would go to Congress tomorrow proposing a change in the law, simply mandating that Central American kids get the same treatment as Mexican kids, i.e., be subject to immediate repatriation.

Then do so under the most humane conditions. Buses with every amenity. Kids accompanied by nurses and social workers and interpreters and everything they need on board. But going home…

It happens that I support immigration reform. I support amnesty. I have since 2006. But only after we secure the border.

Which begins with completing the fencing along the Mexican frontier. Using 2009 Government Accountability Office estimates, that would have cost up to $6.6 billion. Obama will now spend more than half that sum to accommodate a mass migration that would have been prevented by just such a barrier.


The geographic spread of immigrants is particularly striking in the groups that tend to draw the most political opposition: Immigrants who are here illegally or who don’t speak English. States like California, Texas and New Mexico that have long had large Spanish-speaking populations have seen a flattening-out or even a decline in the share of residents who don’t speak English fluently. Meanwhile states farther from the border, such as Washington state, New Jersey and Maryland, have seen big increases in their limited-English-proficient populations.

Undocumented immigration is spreading too. When Pete Wilson was running for re-election in the mid-1990s, California was the epicenter of illegal immigration, accounting for more than 35 percent of all unauthorized migration. Today, the state accounts for just over 20 percent of the national total, and its absolute number of undocumented immigrants has been trending down for several years. Other traditional immigration hubs such as Texas, Florida and New York have also seen the growth in their undocumented populations slow in recent years, and in some cases decline outright. Meanwhile, the number of undocumented immigrants in states outside those traditional hubs has increased nearly seven-fold since 1990, to 4.7 million people. As a result, people in many parts of the country are encountering immigration, including illegal immigration, for the first time.


Instead, America is arguably experiencing its worst spasm of nativism since the early 20th Century. Then, magazines such as Judge ran cartoons depicting a Statue of Liberty with a Chinese face welcoming crime-prone and diseased immigrants. Now, protesters in towns like Murrieta, Calif., are turning away buses carrying these kids to shelters, accusing them of being scabies-infected lawbreakers.

But such nativism will ultimately run into what University of California’s John S.W. Park calls America’s “Huckleberry Finn Problem.” Slavery unraveled when, like Mark Twain’s Huck Finn, Americans couldn’t bear to enforce anti-fugitive laws preventing blacks from fleeing to freedom. “Inflicting the law became hard,” notes Park, “when there was so much evidence of common humanity.”

The same is happening now. There is no movement of private citizens turning in illegals, but sanctuary cities are cropping up offering safe haven, also what happened during slavery. Such responses reflect this core intuition: Laws requiring the government to do what private citizens won’t are wrong, especially in a country founded on the notion that a government’s powers can’t exceed those of its people.

Nativism ignores both America’s humanity and commitment to limited government — which is why it’ll lose.


America is the house that is both falling apart and under new stress. Those living within it, those most upset by what they’re seeing, know America has big problems—unemployment, low workforce participation, a rickety physical infrastructure, an unsound culture, poor public education. And of course discord of all sorts—a lot of mad squirrels running around the attic. They know America can’t pay its bills. They fear we’re living on the fumes of greatness. They want us to be strong again. Watching our border collapse doesn’t look like a harbinger of progress.

Here it must be said that those who live comfortable lives can afford to roll with the historical punches. But people who are not affluent live closer to the ground, and closer to the country’s deterioration. The rougher America becomes, the more they feel the abrasion. They’re not protected…

There is every sign he let the crisis on the border build to put heat on Republicans and make them pass his idea of good immigration reform. It would be “comprehensive,” meaning huge, impenetrable and probably full of mischief. His base wants it. It would no doubt benefit the Democratic Party in the long term.

The little children in great danger, holding hands, staring blankly ahead, are pawns in a larger game. That game is run by adults. How cold do you have to be to use children in this way?


Like old Europe, we are aging, our birthrates are falling, our economy is sclerotic, our church attendance is declining, our discourse is undermined by sectarian and ethnic and racial and sexual and environmental censors. A foreign policy negotiated in Geneva, a domestic policy from the LSE, a social philosophy more Davos than Branson—we have been living with all of these since January 2009. But the crisis on the southern border, the surge in unaccompanied minors from Central America and elsewhere illegally migrating to the United States, has brought into focus another parallel with Europe. Not a good one…

With the arrival of the Dreamers the issues of migration, border security, amnesty, and incompetence are refashioning American politics, fracturing allegiances and commitments and social bonds, exposing the contradiction between liberal humanitarianism and national identity, and forging new coalitions, with the elites of both parties on the one hand, and the fading American middle on the other…

The questions of sovereignty, compassion, and relocation, of the economic and social costs of mass immigration of displaced peoples, of the most basic understanding of what a nation is, what borders are for, what distinguishes a citizen from an alien: Such questions have dominated European politics, and are coming to dominate American politics as well. They have also coarsened European politics, made it more antagonistic. They have set the advocates of the European Union, and of the immigrants, against nationalist publics. Elite condescension is met with public antipathy, even extremism. The casualties? No biggies: just trust, cohesion, and fellow feeling—the very ingredients for a healthy, successful country.




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David Strom 6:41 PM on January 26, 2023