Joseph Ford Cotto
April 4, 2017
San Francisco Review of Books
After several years on the back burner, serious talk about enforcing immigration law finally returned – thanks to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. With his election, executive-level action was at long last taken.
Do not expect Congress to follow suit, however.
The last time a bipartisan consensus formed on immigration policy was in the then-majority-Democratic U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, it was centered around a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. Mercifully, this legislation did not get through the Republican-led U.S. House.
Among the GOP ranks, opposition to amnesty has solidified since Trump's victory and the 2014 midterm elections. Not long before Trump launched his bid, House GOPers rejected defense legislation because it would have provided for citizenship should an illegal serve in our military.
This move was met with strong criticism, including from center-right voices, which is what made it so commendable. When the rubber met the road, typically spineless politicians chose the more difficult, yet civic-minded, path. "The Honorable" gentlemen and gentlewomen indeed.
Still, kicking the can down the road no longer works. Illegal immigration has grown too vast and far too expensive. The time for legislative action is now, but it must be asked if said action will help or harm the situation.
Before anything else is mentioned, we must realize that the idea of rounding up and deporting illegal aliens en masse is unrealistic. The social consequences of this would surpass imagination, and there simply aren't enough law enforcement officers to do the job.
However, making citizens out of illegal aliens is a plan for abject failure. Not only would unlawful immigration be encouraged, but competition would soar for even the most menial of employment opportunities.
If one thinks it is difficult to build a good career in post-Great Recession America, just wait and see how hard it will be to make ends meet in post-amnesty America.
All too many illegal aliens have minimal interest in assimilating to our country's cultural norms and earn a substantial – yet illicit – salary through public assistance and/or government-funded private charities. Amnesty is not going to bring the average American any fortune whatsoever. Mitt Romney was onto something when he spoke about self-deportation.
Scores of Democrats support amnesty for building a permanent political majority. No small number of Republicans want a first-class seat on the gravy train as well; especially those whose constituents utilize illegal alien labor.
Few people understand this incredibly complex situation as well as Jo Wideman does. She is the executive director of Californians for Population Stabilization, a group which stands at the forefront of productively dealing with America's immigration quagmire.
"Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) works to formulate and advance policies and programs designed to stabilize the population of California, the U.S. and the world at levels which will preserve the environment and a good quality of life for all," its website declares, later mentioning "that CAPS does not advocate blaming immigrants. We don’t blame people from other countries for wanting to come live here. We are pro immigrant – we strive to meaningfully uphold and nurture the American Dream for people who wants to come to the U.S. through legal channels in numbers that our environment and resources can reasonably accommodate (approximately 300.000 a year). We were founded on and conintue be focused on all aspects of population growth."
Wideman recently spoke with me about many issues relating to American immigration policy. Some of our conversation is included below.
Joseph Ford Cotto: Opposition to illegal immigration is often portrayed as a key aspect of right-wing politics. Traditionally, though, immigration restriction has enjoyed broader appeal. More than anything else, what made the sands of public sentiment shifft.
Jo Wideman: Democrats were once the party of the American working class, now they are the party of open borders or no borders at all, which harms that same working class. It was in the 1990s that Democratic politicians began to turn their backs on the American worker and embrace immigrants as the future of their party.
As late as the mid-nineties, the Jordan Commission on Immigration Reform, established by President Clinton and chaired by the African-American, former Texas representative Barbara Jordan, endorsed strong measures to control illegal immigration and even reduce legal immigration for America’s benefit. But tragically for her and our country, Jordan died unexpectedly (at the age of just 59) and Clinton, schmoozed and seduced by lavish donations and warned by political threats from foreign-born entrepreneurs and wheeler-dealers, as well as selfish native-born billionaires and moguls like Bill Gates, walked away from the sensible, fair recommendations of his own commission.
Today, the Jordan Commission’s recommendations are all but unthinkable, simply beyond the pale, among Democrats; indeed, they are derided and denounced as racist, xenophobic and un-American. Republican politicians stepped in to fill the void left by the Democrats as they abandoned American workers and rushed to embrace immigrants, and these Republicans brought with them many of their right-wing politics.
Thus, if one visits the rightwing and fervently anti-immigration website Breitbart.com, which is well-represented within the Trump administration, one finds the full range of other rightwing causes and politics represented, such as anti-abortion (pro-life), anti-tax, pro-military, pro-Christian, anti-environment, anti-global warming, and so forth. Unfortunately, many liberals and Democrats who might be inclined to agree about immigration’s excesses are so put off by many of the other affinities and proclivities of the right-wingers that they are loathe to collaborate with them on immigration.
Indeed, labor leader Samuel Gompers and civil rights leaders Booker T. Washington and also Barbara Jordan pointed out that large-scale immigration hurts poor Americans. Legendary conservationist David Brower identified it as a major component of the problem of overpopulation.
Sociologists have noted that Americans are increasingly forming like-minded clusters, segregating themselves by ideology. Conservatives are choosing to live near other conservatives, liberals near liberals, and neither group has much interaction with those of differing viewpoints. It is becoming less common for one to hold more nuanced positions, conservative on some issues, liberal on some issues. Since the majority of the left supports high levels of immigration, other liberals tend to fall in line or remain silent when they disagree.