One of the most dangerous facts about American politics today, as for the past full century, is that the vast majority of politicians of the two major parties are incapable of criticizing any event or sequential development concerning immigration in a non-defensive and unqualified manner.
The problem begins at the head of government and the highest levels of national discussion and works its way downward from there, as the proverbial fish rots. This is because, in American politics and culture, the fundamental and prevailing presumption is always in favor of the immigrant (whether legal or illegal), the refugee, and the asylum seeker, ensuring that every call for restriction, curtailment, and control, small or sweeping, inevitably includes a rhetorical softener of one sort or another intended to reaffirm one’s commitment to immigration to America as a historic principle, and the basic human right of everyone who wishes admission to this country to be granted entry after having been officially vetted. The assumption on both sides of the aisle is that the criteria for permanent residency and ultimate citizenship exclude any consideration of mere numbers, since to do otherwise would be to offend against the international doctrine of human rights and—anyway–un-American. This, of course, is not policy as prudent political realism. It is policy as irresponsible moral and political abstraction. It is, in other words, pure liberalism.
So it is that in the current debate over the latest crisis at the Southwest border, both sides—Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative—have sedulously avoided consideration of the number, as well as the nature, of the tens of thousands of petitioners from Latin America presently seeking admittance to the United States. Perhaps the omission is a matter of political prudence and expediency. More likely it is because to do so simply never occurs to them. The truth is, should all of Central America arrive en masse along a border two thousand miles in extent, from Laredo to Tijuana, demanding entry, bi-partisan official Washington would have no principled grounds (as it understands the matter) on which to refuse to consider individually the personal claims of each one of scores of millions of people for admittance, and act according to historical precedent and the law of the land afterward. Should the whole of South America show up there, Washington’s situation would be the same. So too were five billion or so of the world’s seven billion inhabitants collectively to assail the southern border of the southern half of North America. Border Czaress Camela would fight to let them all in, without exception. So would Sandy Ocasio-Cortez. So would, probably, The Red Senator from Vermont. What would everyone else in American political life do, including the Great Unifier in the White House?
Who knows? Who, really, wants to know at this point? Let us hope the country never has to find out.