Joseph Ford Cotto
March 28, 2017
San Francisco Review of Books
This is the second of seven articles spanning my discussion with Jo Wideman. The first piece is available.
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: What advice would you give Donald Trump in managing current immigration trends?
Jo Wideman: President Trump should focus less on “building the wall” and more on mandatory E-Verify. An estimated half or so of illegal immigrants didn’t cross our borders, they came here legally as tourists or workers and then overstayed or ignored the conditions on their visas. Building a costly wall, walling us off from the world, won’t keep them out; we see that as more of a last resort. In contrast, mandatory E-Verify is a proven, effective means of pulling the plug on the job magnet that lures people here by making it difficult or impossible for those without legal authorization to find work.
His administration should stick strictly with the numbers and avoid the temptation to scapegoat any particular groups. Emphasize that the victims of our misbegotten, dysfunctional immigration system hail from all ethnic and racial groups. Indeed, on the whole, minorities in our cities have actually been harmed more than others by illegal immigration and excessive legal immigration rates. It seems that elites and political leadership’s actions add ever-increasing numbers of poor people and ethnic minorities through mass immigration – than they are to their own existing constituents.
CAPS supports President Trump in believing that legal immigration should be lowered toward historic norms. This is not to turn our back on our heritage as a “nation of immigrants” but simply to recognize that there can be too much of a good thing. Eating food is good; overeating is not.
CAPS further supports the president’s stated intentions to end “catch and release,” deport criminals inside our country illegally, defund “sanctuary cities,” implement a biometric visa tracking system, cancel President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and force other countries to take back their own citizens who do not belong in the U.S.
The late Barbara Jordan, the African-American Congresswoman who chaired President Clinton’s U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform said, “Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave.”
We must enforce our laws and protect American workers, but we must not demonize any particular group or groups. Returning the US to its more traditional, lower levels of legal immigration will result in a less crowded, more bountiful America that protects resources and promotes a high quality of life for all Americans.