Amnesty is Dead

Some conservatives believe that immigration is more important than any other issue, because if we don’t get control of our borders, nothing else matters. Open the floodgates of our welfare state to the uneducated, impoverished, and unskilled masses of the world and in a generation or three America, as we know it, will be gone.

So naturally the people who hold this opinion were elated when Donald Trump entered the presidential race -- with his independence from the illegal alien lobbies on the left and the right -- and were more elated (but not really surprised) when he won the presidency.

Correspondingly, these Trump supporters were mortified when the president recently said that illegal aliens who had been brought to this country as children (i.e. the “Dreamers”) could “rest easy;” that the administration was targeting only violent criminals and that, basically, they could stay.

Moreover, the recent news that Agricultural Secretary Sonny Purdue has been investigating ways to give amnesty to illegal aliens who work on America’s farms has deepened the sense of betrayal among Trump loyalists. Even in rural Georgia, the donors who write big checks for campaigning politicians are pro-illegal alien.

The forgotten men and women of this country were not expecting to be forgotten again quite so quickly.

While this infiltration of the cabinet and partial reversal of Trump’s personal position are concerning, however, they are no cause for despair. On the contrary, the situation on illegal immigration -- the possibility that the laws on the books may actually be enforced -- has not looked this good in thirty years (if then). Specifically, the possibility that any significant number of the illegal aliens in this country will attain any extended form of legal status appears to be small and shrinking. Simply put, amnesty is dead.

The reasons for this are twofold. First, by giving voice to blasphemous truths and thereby rallying people to his side and winning the election, Trump has, here as in so many other places, changed the gestalt on illegal immigration. Second, by setting in motion the pent-up forces of law enforcement and giving those forces Jeff Sessions and John Kelly to guide them, the realpolitik of the immigration battle has shifted and shifted irrevocably.

Regarding the first point, the media was horrified at the rhetoric of “rapists” and “drug dealers” and “anchor babies” and “the Wall” with which Trump emerged from the presidential campaign gate. But everyone in America knew what he was talking about and those who agreed with him were massively relieved that they could now speak the unspeakable truths in public. Since Trump subsequently won the election, the passionate view of a sizeable portion of America -- that they don’t want illegal aliens here -- has now been exposed regardless of the mass of blue smoke and mirror polls that purport to show that Americans are actually in favor of amnesty and just voted for Trump presumably out of confusion.

This rallying of those who are most opposed to illegal immigration is a stupendous and absurdly unlikely achievement because that particular constituency is, almost by definition, the least able to voice its views. Those most impacted are middle class and lower middle class. It is they whose jobs are taken, whose raises are postponed, whose schools are filled with non-English speaking children that absorb precious resources for remedial English, whose public parks are trashed and whose emergency rooms serve as the local clinic for the illegal underground. These leftover people who supported Trump struggle to teach their children to obey the rules while illegal immigration teaches those children that the rules are for suckers.

The folks on the receiving end of this bludgeon don’t write $2700 checks to their preferred congressional candidate. They have no voice. Or, actually, they have only one small voice, and that is their ballot. That voice, multiplied fifty million times, has now been heard and it can’t be un-heard.

But the concrete, realpolitik reason that amnesty is dead is that the appropriate law enforcement policies have been set in motion and they are gaining momentum fast!

I have long argued that the illegal alien community in the United States is highly fragile. President Trump’s executive order directing Immigration and Customs Authorities and Border Patrol officers to broadly interpret their jurisdiction for capturing and removing illegal aliens has had the immediate effect of decreasing attempts to cross the border as well as inspiring panic in illegal immigrant communities. Police officers and county sheriffs have told me that, even at the height of the Obama era of nonenforcement, illegal aliens shunned the police. Now, in the era of Trump, the possibility of going to work and ending your week in Mexico is a real and potent threat. (This is particularly true if you live, as I do, in Massachusetts). It is a commonplace that law enforcement professionals go to sleep muttering “5% enforcement equals 95% compliance.”

At the same time, businesses cannot prosper in an environment of uncertainty. The initial impulse of business owners in agriculture and other illegal-alien-heavy industries is to demand, yet again, some succor from the government in terms of work permits for their illegal workers. Just such measures are championed by incoming Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. However, assuming this relief is not forthcoming in the near future (and I’ll get to that in a minute) the only rational policy is for business owners to begin exploring their other options -- which might include automation or wage increases.

When every small business owner in America finally takes paper and pencil and sits down at the kitchen table with their spouse and says “honey, we are going to have to figure out how to make our business work when we can’t hire illegal aliens anymore,” then and only then will the light appear at the end of the tunnel.

But the key to the problem and the reason for optimism is this: with the law now being enforced, however incrementally, even without funds for more agents, even without funds for the Wall, even without E-Verify, the pressure to re-evaluate in the illegal alien and the business communities will only grow. The success of the policy in reducing the inflow and initiating “self-deportation” will feed back on itself. For years the only salient argument of the open borders advocates on both the right and the left was that enforcing the current laws on the books was impossible. As it becomes obvious how easy, in fact, enforcement is, those advocates will be forced to rely on their more avaricious motives for keeping illegal aliens here.

Equally crucial in the realpolitik is this: the only path for interrupting this virtuous law enforcement cycle goes through Congress, which failed to pass amnesty under either Bush or Obama, despite mighty efforts. Whether and how Trump will attempt to collude with Paul Ryan and the Democrats to move an amnesty through Congress is uncertain. Certainly for Trump such a blatant abandonment of the forgotten men and women would carry a high price. But nevertheless a battle like that could be in the future cards. We will need to keep the phone numbers of our representatives handy.

The battle is far from won. Eleven million illegal aliens and an untold number of business owners still need to get their minds right and our champion in the White House shows distressing signs of going wobbly. But I’ll proclaim it anyway. Ding, dong, amnesty is dead.

Some conservatives believe that immigration is more important than any other issue, because if we don’t get control of our borders, nothing else matters. Open the floodgates of our welfare state to the uneducated, impoverished, and unskilled masses of the world and in a generation or three America, as we know it, will be gone.

So naturally the people who hold this opinion were elated when Donald Trump entered the presidential race -- with his independence from the illegal alien lobbies on the left and the right -- and were more elated (but not really surprised) when he won the presidency.

Correspondingly, these Trump supporters were mortified when the president recently said that illegal aliens who had been brought to this country as children (i.e. the “Dreamers”) could “rest easy;” that the administration was targeting only violent criminals and that, basically, they could stay.

Moreover, the recent news that Agricultural Secretary Sonny Purdue has been investigating ways to give amnesty to illegal aliens who work on America’s farms has deepened the sense of betrayal among Trump loyalists. Even in rural Georgia, the donors who write big checks for campaigning politicians are pro-illegal alien.

The forgotten men and women of this country were not expecting to be forgotten again quite so quickly.

While this infiltration of the cabinet and partial reversal of Trump’s personal position are concerning, however, they are no cause for despair. On the contrary, the situation on illegal immigration -- the possibility that the laws on the books may actually be enforced -- has not looked this good in thirty years (if then). Specifically, the possibility that any significant number of the illegal aliens in this country will attain any extended form of legal status appears to be small and shrinking. Simply put, amnesty is dead.

The reasons for this are twofold. First, by giving voice to blasphemous truths and thereby rallying people to his side and winning the election, Trump has, here as in so many other places, changed the gestalt on illegal immigration. Second, by setting in motion the pent-up forces of law enforcement and giving those forces Jeff Sessions and John Kelly to guide them, the realpolitik of the immigration battle has shifted and shifted irrevocably.

Regarding the first point, the media was horrified at the rhetoric of “rapists” and “drug dealers” and “anchor babies” and “the Wall” with which Trump emerged from the presidential campaign gate. But everyone in America knew what he was talking about and those who agreed with him were massively relieved that they could now speak the unspeakable truths in public. Since Trump subsequently won the election, the passionate view of a sizeable portion of America -- that they don’t want illegal aliens here -- has now been exposed regardless of the mass of blue smoke and mirror polls that purport to show that Americans are actually in favor of amnesty and just voted for Trump presumably out of confusion.

This rallying of those who are most opposed to illegal immigration is a stupendous and absurdly unlikely achievement because that particular constituency is, almost by definition, the least able to voice its views. Those most impacted are middle class and lower middle class. It is they whose jobs are taken, whose raises are postponed, whose schools are filled with non-English speaking children that absorb precious resources for remedial English, whose public parks are trashed and whose emergency rooms serve as the local clinic for the illegal underground. These leftover people who supported Trump struggle to teach their children to obey the rules while illegal immigration teaches those children that the rules are for suckers.

The folks on the receiving end of this bludgeon don’t write $2700 checks to their preferred congressional candidate. They have no voice. Or, actually, they have only one small voice, and that is their ballot. That voice, multiplied fifty million times, has now been heard and it can’t be un-heard.

But the concrete, realpolitik reason that amnesty is dead is that the appropriate law enforcement policies have been set in motion and they are gaining momentum fast!

I have long argued that the illegal alien community in the United States is highly fragile. President Trump’s executive order directing Immigration and Customs Authorities and Border Patrol officers to broadly interpret their jurisdiction for capturing and removing illegal aliens has had the immediate effect of decreasing attempts to cross the border as well as inspiring panic in illegal immigrant communities. Police officers and county sheriffs have told me that, even at the height of the Obama era of nonenforcement, illegal aliens shunned the police. Now, in the era of Trump, the possibility of going to work and ending your week in Mexico is a real and potent threat. (This is particularly true if you live, as I do, in Massachusetts). It is a commonplace that law enforcement professionals go to sleep muttering “5% enforcement equals 95% compliance.”

At the same time, businesses cannot prosper in an environment of uncertainty. The initial impulse of business owners in agriculture and other illegal-alien-heavy industries is to demand, yet again, some succor from the government in terms of work permits for their illegal workers. Just such measures are championed by incoming Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. However, assuming this relief is not forthcoming in the near future (and I’ll get to that in a minute) the only rational policy is for business owners to begin exploring their other options -- which might include automation or wage increases.

When every small business owner in America finally takes paper and pencil and sits down at the kitchen table with their spouse and says “honey, we are going to have to figure out how to make our business work when we can’t hire illegal aliens anymore,” then and only then will the light appear at the end of the tunnel.

But the key to the problem and the reason for optimism is this: with the law now being enforced, however incrementally, even without funds for more agents, even without funds for the Wall, even without E-Verify, the pressure to re-evaluate in the illegal alien and the business communities will only grow. The success of the policy in reducing the inflow and initiating “self-deportation” will feed back on itself. For years the only salient argument of the open borders advocates on both the right and the left was that enforcing the current laws on the books was impossible. As it becomes obvious how easy, in fact, enforcement is, those advocates will be forced to rely on their more avaricious motives for keeping illegal aliens here.

Equally crucial in the realpolitik is this: the only path for interrupting this virtuous law enforcement cycle goes through Congress, which failed to pass amnesty under either Bush or Obama, despite mighty efforts. Whether and how Trump will attempt to collude with Paul Ryan and the Democrats to move an amnesty through Congress is uncertain. Certainly for Trump such a blatant abandonment of the forgotten men and women would carry a high price. But nevertheless a battle like that could be in the future cards. We will need to keep the phone numbers of our representatives handy.

The battle is far from won. Eleven million illegal aliens and an untold number of business owners still need to get their minds right and our champion in the White House shows distressing signs of going wobbly. But I’ll proclaim it anyway. Ding, dong, amnesty is dead.