On Sunday, president Trump sent out a tweet suggesting that the US ought to immediately deport, without trial, any illegal immigrant who enters the country.
Trump’s exact words were as follows: “We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents…”
Trump continued in a second tweet, saying “Our Immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years! Immigration must be based on merit – we need people who will help to Make America Great Again!”
There’s a lot to parse out there. And, predictably, these statements have already got the liberal media outrage engine running, as per the norm. Like many of Trump’s tweets, this one has managed to pack a tremendous amount of political rhetoric into only a few hundred characters.
So let’s unpack the statements Trump’s making here and judge them on their merits, without any of the nonsensical and unnecessary hand-wringing that the leftists love to engage in.
Trump’s not wrong simply because his statements are politically incorrect. He’s not evil for thinking any of these things. And he’s not necessarily spewing lies just to appease his political base, despite what most late-night leftoid talking heads would have you think.
So, first things first. Can we allow “all of these people to invade our Country?”
Well, that depends on your point of view. The message that Trump is trying to send is that mass immigration from our southern neighbors has negative effects on our society and our economy. This is true in some ways and not so true in other ways.
Above everything else, there’s the simple fact that America’s agricultural industry is very dependent on immigrant labor. We produce a tremendous amount of food, enough to feed ourselves and much of the world, largely because of cheap (though illegal) immigrant labor.
But tightening the border wouldn’t necessarily remove that labor source; we’ve had functional migrant worker programs in this country before and we could have such programs again. And the low wages that unscrupulous companies can pay illegal laborers have done a lot of damage to other American industries. The American tradesman has suffered a great deal because he’s had to compete with teams of cheap illegal laborers. (Though some of that is the unions’ own fault, of course.)
The crime question is another common one brought up in these situations, and one Trump himself frequently alludes to. The question of whether immigrants commit more crime that natives has been pretty well settled by researchers; statistically legal immigrants do not commit more crime than native born populations.
However, the criminality of undocumented immigrant populations is not as well studied, and there is a fair reason to believe that people who have come here without any legal right to do so, breaking the law in the process, are more likely to engage in other kinds of crimes and misdemeanors as well.
Disrespect for immigration laws could also signal disrespect for other kinds of laws as well. (There are also studies from Germany that show that immigrants with a high likelihood of deportation have significantly contributed to crime there, so there is at least some evidence to support this idea.)
This is what Trump is getting at.
Then we get to Trump’s argument that we shouldn’t need courts or judges to deport illegals. We should just round em’ up and ship em’ back as soon as we catch em’.
On the one hand, this makes a kind of sense. (Why waste time and money with court depositions? Either they have papers and a legal reason to be here, or they don’t.) People who are not US citizens are not necessarily entitled to the same legal rights as Americans. Even legal aliens, people who came here legally and showed the proper respect for our laws, do not have all the same rights as citizens (specifically the right to vote, being a major one).
If we don’t afford every civil right to legal aliens, why should we afford every civil right to illegal aliens?
On the other hand, if you do create a customs system that just deports anybody who can’t prove they’re a citizen, without any court hearings, you run the risk of legal aliens or citizens being deported because they didn’t have their papers on them at the time they were pulled over by border patrol. And that would be bad.
The reason we have the hearings at all is so that we can give people who have a real right to be here the time to gather and officially present the materials they need to prove it.
This gets at Trump’s other point, from the second tweet. There are thousands and thousands of people in this country who have followed all the rules and come over through a real border checkpoint with a real visa. Some are here on student visas. Some are here for work. Some are here because they have family who are citizens.
These people spend thousands of dollars to immigrate to this country. The fact that thousands of people can simply hike across the southern border and enjoy more or less the exact same benefits as those who came legally is, as Trump says, totally unfair to those people.
Are there problems with the idea of deporting people without any hearings? Sure. But there are many excellent reasons to want a more secure border and an immigration enforcement system that runs faster and more efficiently. Insta-deportation may not be the solution, but it’s not as through Trump is wrong when he says there’s a problem.