Trumping the GOP Immigration Conundrum

When it’s all said and done a year from now and regardless of who comes on top, the GOP ought to be grateful to Donald Trump for making them aware of the tremendous pitfalls awaiting the party on immigration. It’s still early in the game, and it is by no means certain that the party would be able to avoid going over the immigration cliff, but if it does, it will owe it to Mr. Trump.  

It is, of course, difficult to imagine at present as we hear Sen. McCain tell us (again) that the GOP has no chance of capturing the White House in 2016 without “comprehensive immigration reform,” implying that amnestied Latinos would flock to the GOP in droves. For Mitt Romney, Trump’s remarks were a “severe error,” while Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona considered them “coarse, ill-informed, inaccurate” and not representative of the GOP.  And herein lies the GOP problem, because if the views of these grandees reflect what the party establishment thinks, it is an establishment at serious odds with the views of the rank and file GOP voter, for whom Trump simply spoke the truth.

So let us briefly consider what Trump said and whether it was factually wrong, rather than whether it could have been said better. He said that illegal aliens are bringing in drugs and crime and that some are rapists. All of this is true and most is not even controversial. Despite the documented reluctance of the government to provide reliable figures, it is known that at least a quarter of federal criminal inmates are illegal aliens. Given that the assumed size of the illegal population in the country is 14 million or less than 5% of the total, yet they commit 25% of all federal crime, it is clear that the average illegal alien is many times more likely to be a criminal than the population at large.

Trump has also threatened to take the “bad dudes” and deport them. What law abiding citizen would find this controversial? Recently, the leftist Migration Policy Institute, published a study showing that there are 820,000 convicted illegal alien criminals in the United States. It is the federal government that is derelict in its duty in not deporting them and not Trump for claiming that there are indeed many bad dudes among the illegals.

Perhaps, the most controversial thing Trump has said on the subject is his claim that the illegal aliens are people “that Mexico doesn’t want.” This is close to a conspiracy theory involving the Mexican government and hardly a productive line of inquiry. Yet, facts are indeed stubborn things and they show that with the beginning of massive illegal immigration into California in 1988, the adult illiteracy rate in Mexico has fallen as dramatically as it has increased in California. According to the World Bank, by 2012, Mexico had an adult literacy rate of 98.72%, while in California adult illiteracy stood at 23% in 2003, the last year for which the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) published literacy statistics. This was a considerable deterioration from 1992, when the rate for California was 15%. It is much worse in some counties such as Los Angeles, where adult illiteracy stood at 33% in 2003, compared to 20% in 1992. Exactly how an American county where every third person is illiterate expects to compete in the global market place is for somebody else to figure out.

It is difficult to explain this dramatic reversal of fortunes except as the result of massive migration of illiterate Mexicans across the border. According to the DHS, in 2011 there were 2,830,000 illegal aliens in California, probably over 3 million by now, compared to 1.5 million in 1990.

And it is not just California, though it is clearly affected most dramatically. In 2011, the United States was the only member the Organization of Economically Developed Countries (OECD), where the present generation was less educated than the previous one. What that bodes for the future should not be difficult to surmise.

Finally, a word about Sen. McCain’s fond hopes that comprehensive immigration reform, i.e. amnesty, would boost GOP’s electoral fortunes. It is often forgotten that we did that once before and know what happened. Under the so called Simpson-Mazzoli Act, President Reagan amnestied 3 million illegals in 1986. It may be instructive for Mr. McCain to recall the result. In both Reagan elections in 1980 and 1984, he carried 37% of the Hispanic vote. That percentage dropped down to 30% in 1988, 28% in 1992 and 24% in 1996. Some gratitude. Moreover, half of the amnestied Latinos were in California and 1986 was the year when that state slowly but surely began transforming itself into today’s single party People’s Republic of California.

So what is the solution? Trump’s often inchoate musings actually do make a lot of sense. Securing the border, deporting the bad apples, starting with the 820,000 convicted criminals, and doing away with the abysmal chain migration system, would be a good beginning. It is often forgotten that the victims of these criminals are more often than not other Latinos, and few would shed a tear over them. Beyond that, Trump’s idea of earning citizenship through a merit system over time is certainly something Republicans would and should be in favor of. Beyond that, there are developments in the Latino community, such as the rapid growth of the evangelical movement, that are very hopeful for the GOP in the long run.

In the meantime, how does one explain to the GOP establishment that both McCain and Romney lost not because Latinos did not vote for them, but because they both were flawed establishment candidates that could not mobilize the Republican base, exactly because they were flawed establishment candidates. If 4% more white voters had voted for Romney, he would be president today.

In the meantime, the GOP’s response to Trump indicates that they have not learned anything and appear to do their level best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the election to replace the worst president in American history. This is not about Trump, this is about an establishment that thinks that it knows better than its great law-abiding, patriotic base what’s good for us. They need to be stopped for the sake of America.

Alex Alexiev is a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center (IASC) in Wash.D.C. He tweets on national security at and could be reached at: