He offered a compromise yesterday in an op-ed about the caravan for Fox: In exchange for amnesty for DREAMers, immigration fans like him should agree to support the wall. That’s a shrewd offer in how it capitalizes on the fetish Trump and MAGA Nation have made of the wall as a concrete symbol of America’s resolve to enforce its borders. I think Trump would take that deal even if many of his fans wouldn’t.
But even if it worked splendidly, the wall would solve only half of America’s immigration problem (and arguably the less important half). Keeping illegal immigrants from entering is a logistical problem. Removing illegal immigrants who’ve successfully entered is a political problem, and one of the two major parties in this country simply does not want to remove illegals who don’t have a violent criminal record. Period, full stop. Relatedly, there seems to be no theoretical cap to annual asylum claims that Democrats would be comfortable setting either. If the caravan swelled by a factor of 100 and showed up at a point of entry, there’s every reason to believe progressives would support granting asylum wholesale. Enter legally and you can stay indefinitely; enter illegally and you can stay indefinitely also. That’s the progressive platform, as far as I can tell.
Having absorbed Geraldo’s immigration opinions for the past 15 years on Fox, can you imagine any scenario in which he’d support refusing asylum to someone who lacks a criminal record? If not, of what use is the wall?
David Frum is stridently anti-Trump and anti-nationalist but he’s a border hawk, partly because he’s anti-nationalist. “If liberals insist that only fascists will defend borders,” he writes today, “then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals will not do.” That’s not a threat, merely the reality of the situation in Europe. Force voters to choose between liberalism and basic prerogatives of national sovereignty and you might not like which one they choose. Perhaps we shouldn’t force them.
The theory behind the caravans—this latest, and its smaller predecessors over the past 15 years—is that Central Americans have valid asylum claims in the United States because of the pervasive underemployment and gang-violence problems in their countries. If that claim is true, that is a claim shared not only among the thousands in the current caravan, but the millions back home. A 2013 Pew survey found that 58 percent of Salvadorans would move to the United States if they could. The seven countries of Central America together have a population of some 45 million, or about the same as Mexico’s back in 1970, when the mass migration from that nation began…
For Trump’s opponents, the caravan represents a trap. Has Trump’s radical nativism so counter-radicalized them that they have internalized the caravan message against any border enforcement at all? If yes, they will not help immigrants. They will only marginalize themselves—and American politics will follow the European path in which anti-immigration parties of the extreme right cannibalize the political center.
Many (most?) illegal immigrants who enter the U.S. could spitball some grounds for asylum if invited to do so. If they don’t face political persecution back home, they may face organized crime; if they don’t face organized crime, they may face poverty; if they don’t face poverty, they almost certainly face a harder future economically than they’d have in America. Insofar as the left’s threshold for admitting someone seems to be whether he or she is “seeking a better life in America,” whatever that might mean, there’s effectively no limiting principle to how many might enter under the heading of “asylum.” That seems to be Geraldo’s perspective too. Again, of what use is the wall when a Democratic administration presumably would wave people through at points of entry on asylum grounds?
A good point:
The media should focus on the fact that this caravan was offered asylum by Mexico—something people actually fleeing violence would accept—but they refused it.
But they won't even mention it. Because it tells you everything you need to know.
— Lyndsey Fifield (@lyndseyfifield) October 22, 2018
Under tremendous pressure from the Trump White House, Mexico has indeed offered asylum to the caravan. Some are inclined to accept it on grounds that, after all, it solves their ostensible problem of escaping violence back home. But not all are. Would that be grounds among lefties for rejecting caravan members at the U.S. border, that they had an opportunity for asylum elsewhere and turned it down? Or would we be obliged to accept those people because, after all, parts of Mexico are violent too? Needless to say, if people from other countries have a de facto (if not quite de jure) right to enter the United States, then we’re not setting America’s immigration policy. They’re setting America’s immigration policy.
Here’s Geraldo responding to Hannity’s exceedingly basic point about sovereignty by pleading for “reason” and “patience” and “compassion,” which is his way of saying “let ’em in.” He’ll never say otherwise, no matter how big the caravans get and how many there are.