President Trump’s approval rating jumped 10 points in January, rising to the highest level since soon after he was inaugurated. As Congressman Steve Stivers noted, “No president in their second year has seen their approval rating go up except this one.”
Many were surprised that Trump has managed to break through the incessant opposition of a hostile media. Our explanation is that Trump lured the Democrats into a high-profile debate on the immigration issue, and the president won the debate because the public agrees with him.
Democrats proved they are so committed to the principle of amnesty for illegal immigrants that they would even shut down the government over it. To the surprise of many Democrats, the public is not buying it.
Immigration is a subject on which there is the greatest disconnect between what ordinary Americans want and what our government delivers. We allowed about 1.5 million immigrants a year to settle in America in 2014 and 2015, the latest year such figures are available, but a new poll shows that Americans think that number is way too high.
According to the respected Harvard-Harris poll, 72 percent of Americans think we should admit fewer than 1 million immigrants a year. Of those, 54 percent think we should have fewer than 500,000 immigrants a year, and 35 percent think the number should be 250,000 or even less.
“Americans are Dreamers too,” President Trump declared in the best line of his superb State of the Union address. The president holds a winning hand, and the news on immigration keeps supporting him.
On Super Bowl Sunday, football fans awoke to the sad news that Edwin Jackson, a linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts, and his Uber driver were killed by a drunk-driving illegal immigrant from Guatemala, Manuel Orrego-Savala. The culprit, who had twice been previously deported, fled the scene on foot, but was later caught and found to have three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood as he drove his pickup truck without a license.
Near San Diego last month, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested two illegal immigrant Dreamers with DACA privileges who had been making a living by smuggling other illegals into the United States from Mexico. The 20-year-old Dreamer was caught driving two illegals in his car, while the 22-year-old was acting as a scouter to warn another smuggler when Border Patrol agents were sighted in the area.
While President Trump has been acting as “good cop” with his extremely generous offer of eventual citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers, his essential “bad cop,” Acting ICE Director Tom Homan, has been enforcing the law in sanctuary cities and states. Homan raided 77 businesses in Northern California last week, looking for employers who harm American workers by knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.
The Obama administration had essentially allowed San Francisco and other liberal areas to opt out of federal immigration law, but that is changing under Director Homan, who promised a 400 percent increase in workplace enforcement. “We’ve got to take these sanctuary cities on,” Homan declared, even suggesting that local officials could be criminally punished for harboring illegal aliens in their jurisdictions.
Americans sympathize with immigrants who were brought here as young children (although that’s not really true of many who would receive amnesty under the bipartisan Dreamer legislation), but not the adults who illegally brought them here. Still less do Americans want the Dreamers to import their distant relatives under the process known as chain migration.
How that works was explained by the eminent Harvard Professor George Borjas, himself an immigrant, in the New York Times. “Our current system lets a new immigrant eventually sponsor the entry of her brother, who can then sponsor the entry of his wife, who can sponsor her father, who can sponsor his sister, and so on.”
Professor Borjas continued, “Does it really make sense for one entry today to eventually lead to a visa for the immigrant’s sister-in-law’s aunt?” Obviously not, which is why Americans oppose letting new immigrants import relatives beyond members of their immediate family.
President Trump has insisted that any deal for DACA must include provisions limiting family reunification to an immigrant’s spouse and minor children. Democrats have refused to accept that reasonable restriction, which means there likely won’t be a deal anytime soon.
The Harvard-Harris poll shows that most Americans not only think total immigration should be reduced, but also that we should give preference to immigrants with something to contribute to our country, based on their education and skills. That opinion was shared by all demographic groups polled, and was especially high among African Americans.
That opinion used to be shared by Democrats, too, including Bill Clinton who praised the late Barbara Jordan during his 1995 State of the Union address. “It is wrong,” Bill Clinton said then, “to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.”
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) whose 27th book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously in 2016.