Right and Wrong Approaches to Immigration
In Abu Dhabi, an oil-rich emirate in the Persian Gulf, former President George W. Bush was speaking at a conference organized by Michael Milken, the junk bond king of the 1980s.
“Americans don’t want to pick cotton at 105 degrees,” Bush said in response to a question, “but there are people who want to put food on their family’s tables and are willing to do that. We ought to say thank you and welcome them.”
Bush was right that Americans don’t want to pick cotton at 105 degrees, as we can tell you from personal experience. But he was wrong to say we ought to welcome people from other lands so poor that they are willing to do that kind of work to put food on their family’s tables.
When the Schlafly boys were teenagers, we spent a memorable summer vacation working on a cotton farm in the Mississippi delta east of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. It was a miserable experience, but fortunately for us, it lasted only about two weeks.
It was too early to pick the cotton when we were there around the Fourth of July, but we learned how to chop it. Chopping cotton means chopping weeds with a hoe without damaging the cotton plant.
After a while, we wondered why we saw no one else doing this backbreaking work in the 100-degree heat of the Mississippi delta, where cotton fields extend as far as the eye can see. That’s when we realized that chopping and picking cotton were already being done by machines, and the people who used to do it by hand had moved on to better jobs.
Once upon a time, more than 200 years ago, Americans imported African slaves to do the unpleasant work of cultivating cotton. Slavery was abolished in 1865, but African Americans continued to toil on cotton farms in conditions of extreme poverty that prevailed in the defeated Southern states.
About 75 years after the Civil War, some inventors finally made a successful cotton-picking machine. This invention came years later than the famous harvester invented by Cyrus McCormick, because cotton is so much harder to pick than wheat, corn or soybeans.
During the same period in which mechanization swept the cotton fields of the South, millions of African Americans moved north in search of economic opportunity and greater freedom. During this “great migration,” many black Americans found higher paying jobs in the factories of Chicago and Detroit, while others achieved success and fame in sports and entertainment.
Thanks to a legal and economic system that rewards invention and innovation, our high standard of living means that no American of any race has to chop or pick cotton at 105 degrees anymore. Bush grew up in Texas, which grows more cotton than any other state, and he should know that.
Bush’s foolish comment combined two of the worst slogans of the pro-amnesty movement, the myth of “jobs Americans won’t do” and the myth of “crops rotting in the fields.” On the contrary, the enormous growth of computer-aided automation, robots, artificial intelligence, and driverless vehicles is eliminating whatever opportunity there used to be for poor people from other countries to earn a living here.
Media Smear of Trump Backfires
Social media had a field day with a photo which appeared to show that the Trump administration is keeping migrant children penned in cages along the U.S.-Mexican border. A photo that went viral shows two Hispanic children sleeping on a concrete floor behind a chain-link fence.
A news report that confirms what you already believe to be true is said to be “too good to check.” In this case, the photo seemed to corroborate what the media falsely believe about our President.
“Look at these pictures,” tweeted former President Obama’s chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau. “This is happening right now, and the only debate that matters is how we force our government to get these kids back to their families as fast as humanly possible.”
The picture was retweeted by other anti-Trump personalities including Shaun King, an activist who supported Black Lives Matter. “Take a look at these pictures,” tweeted Linda Sarsour, the radical Muslim activist who co-founded the Women’s March.
Donald Trump, as usual, had the last laugh on his critics. The photo was actually taken in June 2014, when Barack Obama was President. The picture was one of 10 photos published by a Phoenix newspaper, the Arizona Republic, under the headline: “Immigrant children flood detention center.”
The children, about 900 in all, had crossed the border illegally in Texas without their parents. They were shipped to Nogales, Arizona where the U.S. government set up a makeshift processing center bigger than a football field.
“The children, mostly of high-school and junior- high-school age, are housed behind 18-foot-high chain- link fences topped with razor wire,” said the reporter who was allowed to visit the facility. “They pass the day sitting on benches or lying side by side on tiny blue mattresses pressed up against each other on nearly every square inch of the floor in the fenced areas.”
“Democrats mistakenly tweet 2014 pictures from Obama’s term showing children from the Border in steel cages,” President Trump tweeted on the day after Memorial Day. “They thought it was recent pictures in order to make us look bad, but backfires.”
“Dems must agree to Wall and new Border Protection for good of country.” Once again, Donald Trump emerges the winner while his critics, like Linda Sarsour, debase themselves.
“Our immigration system was a disaster long before Trump came along,” Sarsour insisted after her gaffe was exposed. “Now it will become increasingly worse under this White Supremacist Administration.”
It’s all very frustrating to George Lakoff, a Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California Berkeley. Lakoff has made a second career trying to teach Democrats how to communicate the progressive agenda to ordinary Americans.
“When you repeat Trump, you help Trump,” Professor Lakoff wrote in an exasperated post to his friends on the left. “You do this by spreading his message wide and far.
“Think about it: every time Trump issues a mean tweet or utters a shocking statement, millions of people begin to obsess over his words.
“Reporters make it the top headline. Cable TV panels talk about it for hours. Horrified Democrats and progressives share the stories online, making sure to repeat the nastiest statements in order to refute them.
“Nobody knows this better than Trump. Trump, as a media master, knows how to frame a debate” wrote the distinguished professor, who published a whole book on how to frame the debate. “When the news media and Democrats repeat Trump’s frames, they are strengthening those frames by ensuring that tens of millions of Americans hear them repeated over and over again.”
President Trump is welcome relief from politicians who care more about donors than voters. Trump should continue to be “a choice, not an echo” on immigration, and stand firm for a border wall.
Triumphant Trump Vindicated Again
Time magazine piled on with a ridiculous cover image of President Trump standing stubbornly over a little girl detained at our border. Yanela Hernandez was supposed to become the poster child for family separation, after she was brought here by her mother all the way from Honduras.
But it is the facts that are stubbornly ruining the anti- Trump script. The girl was actually separated from her father not by Trump but by her own mother, who took the child on a dangerous 3-week, 1,600-mile journey without telling her husband (the girl’s father).
Nearly 20 years ago, a 5-year-old Cuban boy named Elián González was brought by his mother on a dangerous journey to Florida. Elián was placed with relatives in the United States after his mother drowned, but President Clinton ordered him seized at gunpoint and returned to communist Cuba.
Illegal immigration is what is separating families, not President Trump. Yanela Hernandez would not have been taken away from her family in Honduras if we had sensible border control.
Referring to the deprivation of his little girl from him by her mother in Honduras, her father Denis Hernandez told a reporter for the Daily Mail, “I do think it was irresponsible of her to take the baby with her, because we don’t know what could happen.”
“I thank God I have a good job here,” Mr. Hernandez said from his home in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, which is safe enough to be a tourist destination. “I would never risk my life making that journey.”
This case illustrates someone who should be sent back immediately without a judicial hearing, since the Hernandez family has no basis for claiming asylum or refugee status. When Trump suggested that, a news story in the New York Times declared it was “an escalation of his attacks on the judicial system.”
That criticism of Trump is ironic in light of the Supreme Court consistently ruling in his favor on the travel ban. Far from attacking the judicial system, Trump fully complied with all its procedures and prevailed as the Court upheld his so-called travel ban from nations hostile to us.
Let’s hope lower federal courts take a cue from the Supreme Court in deferring to presidential authority in these matters. But on June 6, a federal judge in San Diego allowed the ACLU to continue its lawsuit against the “practice” of separating migrant children from their parents without showing that the parent is unfit or presents a danger to the child.
On June 5, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement blasting the Trump administration’s policy of zero tolerance for illegal entry into the United States. The statement ordered our government to “stop criminalizing what should at most be an administrative offense — that of irregular entry or stay in the U.S.”
The UN human rights office accused our government of committing “a serious violation of the rights of the child,” before complaining that the U.S. “is the only country in the world not to have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.” That’s right, the United States has wisely refused to ratify that dangerous UN treaty since the 1990s, when it was pushed by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton and properly opposed by Phyllis Schlafly.
On June 19, the U.S. formally withdrew from a related UN agency called the Human Rights Council, whose members include some of the most repressive regimes on earth. Ambassador Nikki Haley denounced the council, which has passed more resolutions to condemn Israel specifically than to condemn Syria, Iran and North Korea combined, as “an organization that is unworthy of its name.”
The ‘Caravans’ Are Coming
While other Americans were going to their jobs and carrying about with their lives, President Donald Trump did his job of keeping his eye on America’s southern border.
“Getting more dangerous,” Trump tweeted. “ ‘Caravans’ coming.” The president was referring to the “caravan” (their word) of some 1,200 men, women and children who were spotted in southern Mexico, heading toward the United States. Photographs showed a massive column of people walking north, herded by a few vehicles alongside.
The “caravan” was a group of migrants traveling together with all their belongings, often on foot or with covered wagons, stopping at makeshift camps along the way to eat and sleep. The word originated in the Middle East centuries ago when crossing the desert by caravan was a common sight.
In the frontier era of the 19th century, Americans traveled west by covered wagon for mutual protection as they crossed through hostile Indian country. Caravans are rarely seen in modern America, but it’s a different world south of the border, where millions of people live in primitive conditions that would have challenged our ancestors.
In this case, a caravan consisting of hundreds of men, women and children from Central America, mostly Honduras, crossed into Mexico on March 25, heading north. By April 1 they had traveled 140 miles to the town of Matías Romero.
A thousand people do not embark on a journey of over 1,000 miles without organization and financial support. The caravan that made its way through Mexico was coordinated by a group called Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which means Town Without Borders (or People Without Borders).
The New York Times describes Pueblo Sin Fronteras as a “transnational advocacy group” whose leader, Irineo Mujica, is a “Mexican-American who holds dual citizenship.” There are so many things wrong with those phrases that it’s difficult to know where to start.
To begin with, the United States does not recognize dual citizenship, except in rare cases. A person from Mexico or anywhere else who goes through the process of becoming a U.S. citizen is required to take an oath swearing to totally renounce his previous allegiances.
Similarly, a “transnational” group is not allowed to exist in many countries without first registering to do business or conduct its activities legally in that country. We have enough problems with the outlaw transnational group called MS-13, which has committed murders of incredible savagery, primarily in areas populated by recent immigrants from Central America.
The caravan’s next stop was the town of Puebla, near Mexico City. There they attended two days of “workshops, led by volunteer lawyers” to learn about “their options for legal protections in the United States.”
During the Obama administration, lawyers would coach illegal migrants, who do not speak English, how to keep repeating the English phrase “credible fear.” When people show up at the border claiming a credible fear of persecution in their home country, they are treated as refugees with a right to stay here indefinitely until their claims are adjudicated.
“As ridiculous as it sounds,” Trump tweeted, “the laws of our country do not easily allow us to send those crossing our Southern Border back where they came from. A whole big wasted procedure must take place.”
If those people truly have a credible fear in Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador, why don’t they apply for asylum right where they are, in Mexico? Under international law, according to a ruling of the European Court of Justice last year, migrants must seek refuge or claim asylum in the first safe country they reach, which in this case is Mexico.
Fortunately, the Trump administration has tightened the requirements for would-be refugees and expedited the processing of their claims. But there’s still a huge backlog of refugee cases from the Obama administration, so we need Mexico to work with us to stop illegal immigrants before they get here.
The renegotiation of NAFTA gives Trump leverage, as he tweeted in April: “Mexico is making a fortune on NAFTA. With all of the money they make from the U.S., hopefully they will stop people from coming through their country and into ours, at least until Congress changes our immigration laws!”