The usual caveat up front, i.e. I can’t believe I’m agreeing with Andrew Sullivan. But his piece on immigration and the 2020 candidates restates a lot of the points I’ve tried to make in the last few weeks about this topic. The Democratic Party has long winked at illegal immigration but these days it is openly advocating for open borders. There’s a fantastic deal being offered to millions of people around the world: If you can get here and don’t commit a felony, you can stay indefinitely.
Since 2014, there has been a 240 percent increase in asylum cases. As Fareed Zakaria has pointed out, the number of asylum cases from Honduras, Guatemala, and Venezuela has soared at the same time as the crime rate in those countries was being cut in half…
Last month alone, 144,000 people were detained at the border making an asylum claim. This year, about a million Central Americans will have relocated to the U.S. on those grounds. To add to this, a big majority of the candidates in the Democratic debates also want to remove the grounds for detention at all, by repealing the 1929 law that made illegal entry a criminal offense and turning it into a civil one. And almost all of them said that if illegal immigrants do not commit a crime once they’re in the U.S., they should be allowed to become citizens.
How, I ask, is that not practically open borders? The answer I usually get is that all these millions will have to, at some point, go to court hearings and have their asylum cases adjudicated. The trouble with that argument is that only 44 percent actually turn up for their hearings; and those who do show up and whose claims nonetheless fail can simply walk out of the court and know they probably won’t be deported in the foreseeable future.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement forcibly removed 256,086 people in 2018, 57 percent of whom had committed crimes since they arrived in the U.S. So that’s an annual removal rate of 2 percent of the total undocumented population of around 12 million. That means that for 98 percent of undocumented aliens, in any given year, no consequences will follow for crossing the border without papers. At the debates this week, many Democratic candidates argued that the 43 percent of deportees who had no criminal record in America should not have been expelled at all and been put instead on a path to citizenship. So that would reduce the annual removal rate of illegal immigrants to a little more than 1 percent per year. In terms of enforcement of the immigration laws, this is a joke. It renders the distinction between a citizen and a noncitizen close to meaningless.
Again, what Democrats want are defacto open borders. As Sullivan puts it, “This amounts to an open invitation to anyone on the planet to just show up and cross the border. The worst that can happen is you get denied asylum by a judge, in which case you can just disappear and there’s a 1 percent chance that you’ll be caught in a given year.” If you want to know why there’s a surge at the border it’s not just because things are bad in Central America. It’s because we’re giving away permanent residence, free school, and maybe soon free health care, etc. to anyone who arrives.
As I pointed out yesterday, that’s why Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez left El Salvador and why he tried to cross the Rio Grande with his toddler daughter. He was an economic migrant who wanted a better life and planned to use our broken immigration system to get it.
Sullivan believes the Democrats stance on immigration is “political suicide.” He may be right but I’m not so sure. I don’t think most Americans agree with open borders. That’s still a fringe position. But as long as the left can label opposition to open borders racist, a lot of people will hesitate to speak up in opposition to it. And as long as the media lets Dems talk as if there is only upside to illegal immigration, most people won’t ever hear about what all this generosity is costing them.
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