Sunday, March 3, 2024

Immigration and Caesarism

Jessie Fuentes stands during an August 7 vigil organized by residents of Eagle Pass to protest Gov. Greg Abbot’s policies and to remember migrants who died crossing the Rio Grande. Fuentes is the owner of a kayak business in Eagle Pass, which he started after he retired in order to offer tours of the river. According to Manuel Ortiz, Fuentes is a deeply spiritual man and a lover of nature. He sees Abbot’s barriers as a violation of life, both of the people and of the natural world. “What the government is doing here is killing the river… They are destroying our community.” (Photo by Manuel Ortiz, via Ethnic Media Services)


I was enjoying this rightwinger response to the Senate's immigration bill, from Carl Goldman of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, at the Santa Clarita News

Fact #1: The proposed bill will legalize up to 5,000 adults to cross the border DAILY. Children are unlimited. That’s over 1.8 million per year, plus kids. Under the legislation the border never closes.

Fact #2: All future legal disputes will be taken away from the states and controlled by the US Federal DC District Court. This court is perhaps our most lenient court in the land. It would prohibit any Governor and any state Attorney General from effectively challenging any Federal immigration policy, such as the current “open border” crisis that saw 8.5 unvetted illegal immigrants enter the country under the Biden administration, an amount greater than the current population in 36 states.

Fact #3: The bill calls for 3,275 new border personnel. This sounds like a good thing, assisting the already overloaded border patrol. Read the fine print. These new employees won’t stop the flow. Their roll will be to speed up the processing.

Fact #4: Once this law is put into place, it will be extremely difficult to pass a new law tightening policies. It would tie the hand of future administrations from implementing a closure or partial closure of the border.

Fact #5: The Republican led House of Representatives passed HR 2 last May. It created a much more effective set of tighter immigration policies. To date, it has remained untouched for over nine months on US Senator House Majority leader, Chuck Schumer’s desk [except, as reader Foghorn Leghorn points out, when Ted Cruz added the text of HR2 as an amendment and the vote failed, 32-58].

These five facts alone should be enough to convince any rational individual questioning our current open border policy to run as far away from the Senate bill as possible. How any Republican or Democrat Senator could support this is creating insurmountable challenges for our country. Perhaps they skipped over a few of the 400 pages.

—when I started realizing he was right, in a way. 

I mean, not about the 8.5 unvetted illegal immigrants, which would have hit the headlines with the one who struggled over after getting cut in half on the Mexico side; or the more conventional figure he probably meant to use of 8.5 million (between February 2021 and January 2023), which is the number of encounters tallied by the the Customs and Border Patrol with people crossing the Canadian and Mexican borders, about 7.3 million in the south, of whom some 4 million were turned away, so it was more like 3 million and change; or about the ones who were admitted being "unvetted", since slightly over a million of them had passed through "credible fear interviews" establishing that their fear of persecution or torture in their home countries might make them eligible for asylum in the US (most of them in the last couple of years victims of brutal "socialism" in Venezuela, Nicaragua, or Cuba, remember when the rightwing used to pretend to be concerned about them?), and given court dates for hearings in which they could attempt to prove it, which they are allowed to wait for in the United States, as was always true before the Stephen Miller presidency in 2017-21 (rightwingers used to call it "catch and release"), and well over two million more, families traveling with children, had failed, and were awaiting deportation hearings instead, because the system is now working so badly that many people have to get in line for months or years before it can deport them, a practice that began when the system reached "a breaking point" under Trump in 2019, which has gotten worse as Congress has consistently ducked the issue since former presidential candidate Marco Rubio ran away from it in a panic in 2013. Which the Senate bill would in fact take care of (by making the deportation process a lot more efficient, which is why immigrant advocates object to it), while the Mikey Johnson bill Mr. Goldman prefers, HR2, would not, suggesting that it's not "much more effective".

Also, they weren't "illegal immigrants", if they'd applied for asylum (the illegal immigrants are the "gotaways" who run instead of surrendering to the CPB, on whom CPB doesn't offer numbers, since they don't actually have encounters with them), though they may have been illegal border crossers—but illegal border crossers are entitled to apply for asylum, as the statute makes clear:

(1) In general

Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section or, where applicable, section 1225(b) of this title.

It was written at a time when the law against crossing the border at non-designated places was hardly enforced, a situation that ended in 2005, when

an enterprising Border Patrol chief in Del Rio, Texas, named Randy Hill came up with an idea for how to eliminate unauthorized border crossings for good: He would make the process so unpleasant that no one would want to do it. He looked to a legal provision added into federal immigration law in the 1950s that had only rarely been enforced; it made any unauthorized border crossing a misdemeanor crime, and any repeat offense a felony. Before 2005, federal judges and prosecutors had tacitly agreed to leave migrants alone, except in high-profile cases. People picking crops for under-the-table wages were not a principal concern for most Americans; overworked U.S. attorneys preoccupied with major drug- and weapons-smuggling cases viewed border crossing as a minor infraction not worth their time.

The proof that it doesn't apply to asylum applicants is that President Stephen Miller kept trying to do that, starting October 2018 ("Asylum Ban 1"), but the courts would not let him, not without an act of Congress. The Senate bill would do something similar, refusing to hear asylum claims from claimants who crossed at the wrong places, which could be a really good thing, if matched by the beefing up of CPB and immigration courts at the designated points, which would make the system not only much more efficient but also much safer for the migrants. And of course Mikey Johnson's HR2 doesn't do that either.

No, the thing Mr. Goldman was right about on the legislation was that it wouldn't, if passed, calm his fears, as he notes in #3:

These new employees won’t stop the flow. Their roll [sic] will be to speed up the processing.

And later

In California, illegals get handed a cell phone, monthly stipend (welfare), free food, housing, education, and healthcare (and recently, thanks to Governor Newsom, free sex change operations and a lifetime of hormonal medication). We’re paying for this.

He wants the nightmares to stop! And no legislation is going to do that.

What I realized is that the declinist and suicidal conservatives, like Stephen Bannon and Michael Anton, are actually right. "We won't have a country any more," as Trump says. They won't! The white Christians (for some unclear value of "Christian") are going to have to share it with the rest of us.

Demography is destiny, and politics is downstream from culture, as they like to say. The population is becoming more and more diverse, on every parameter, by no means just through immigration. The culture is changing, from taco trucks on the corner to Drag Queen Story Hour in the public library, and the politics is following at a discrete distance. White kids listen to rap music. Sounds from South Korea through Punjab to Jamaica are everywhere too, and the Korean Wave fandom is kind of leftwing. Nobody under 60 thinks "socialism" is a bad word. Nobody under 60 opposes same-sex marriage. Rural states hold referendums on abortion and abortion always wins. States are changing the way they do their legislative redistricting. The number of states refusing Medicaid expansion keeps shrinking in the face of overwhelming popular support (see this week's story).

You have to understand, these guys have never been committed to democracy. They're OK with voting, as long as it doesn't get too diverse, equitable, and inclusive, but they don't like too much of it, and they've always put any brakes on it they could, starting with the Senate and the Electoral College and the gerrymander, and the Jim Crow vote suppression after Amendments 13-15, and the systematic attacks on the Voting Rights Act we've been seeing since Shelby County. They don't see what higher democratic purpose is defeated when you cheat, or, worse, they do know (they know the meanings of the words "diversity, equity, and inclusion") and they're simply against it.

They'd prefer dictatorship to a truly representative democracy, given the choice, and this is the choice they feel is being forced on them by ongoing demographic change: what the Claremont Institute calls "Caesarism" versus permanently losing their old majorities to the brown and black and otherwise divergent. That's why the American tradition of openness to immigration enrages them so much and why it's so central to their mobilization.

Cross-posted at the Substack.

No comments:

Post a Comment