Being ‘nice’ on illegal immigration is actually not ‘kind’


Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s theatrical project to highlight the influx of illegal immigrants into his state—he is putting them on buses bound for New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal along with other destinations in big, Democrat-run cities—is an example of something too often forgotten in our political conversation: There is a difference between being nice and being kind.

Governor Abbott’s shenanigans are not very nice. Some of those illegal immigrants getting dumped in New York and Washington got onto those buses thinking they were going somewhere else. In fact, most of the 40 who were bound for New York got off the bus before reaching the city—because they are afraid of the city’s escalating reputation for violent crime, as Mayor Eric Adams candidly admitted. The mayor went on to complain that the Texas governor “used innocent people as political pawns to manufacture a crisis.” 

There is a crisis, but Governor Abbott did not manufacture it.

Pres. Biden is the latest president attempting to overhaul America's immigration policy. Biden's evolving "open borders" programs are resulting in tens of thousands of additional migrants reaching US border states — and beyond.
Pres. Biden is the latest president attempting to overhaul America’s immigration policy. Biden’s evolving “open borders” programs are resulting in tens of thousands of additional migrants reaching US border states — and beyond.
Jamal Countess – CNP/MEGA
Immigrants arriving to Manhattan's Port Authority from Texas earlier this week. Many of the newcomers, it appears, had no idea they were even traveling to New York.
Immigrants arriving to Manhattan’s Port Authority from Texas earlier this week. Many of the newcomers, it appears, had no idea they were even traveling to New York.
Ken Lopez/FreedomNewsTV

One naturally feels a considerable measure of sympathy for people who’ve been driven from their homes in Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and other Latin American countries, and from other countries around the world: Syrians, Iraqis, and Russians have been apprehended crossing the border illegally as well. But we must also take into account that in almost every case, these people are willfully and deliberately breaking the law of the United States. Because being illegally present in the United States may actually be  a civil matter; but illegally crossing the border is a crime — and should be treated with the appropriate seriousness.

We have had decades worth of “nice” border politics stretching from Ronald Reagan’s amnesty through Barack Obama’s semi-amnesty for so-called ‘dreamers’ to Joe Biden’s new de facto amnesty. Indeed, the Biden administration ended the “Remain in Mexico” policy last week, ensuring that thousands of illegals will never face deportation but will simply be absorbed into the existing immigrant population. Whatever their status, going easy on poor and vulnerable people who have entered the country illegally seems like the nice thing to do—but, in the long term, it is not the kind thing to do.

Despite the promise of security in the US, immigrants — particularly those living illegally — are among the most vulnerable and easily exploited populations in the entire nation.
Despite the promise of security in the US, immigrants — particularly those living illegally — are among the most vulnerable and easily exploited populations in the entire nation.
John Lamparski/Sipa USA

That is because our excessive tolerance of illegal immigration has created a permanent serf population of long-term U.S. residents who effectively have no legal rights and little hope of sustainable economic advancement. These are folks who typically earn just over half of what native-born workers in similar positions make.  Members of this permanent underclass find themselves forced to labor for low wages in difficult and often dangerous jobs. 

Which is ironic. Economic scholarship suggests that low-wage immigration may raise the real wages of native-born workers by lowering prices of certain goods and services. Yet at the same time, such immigration also lowers the real wages of other recent immigrants, who often are competing for the same jobs. Illegal immigrants are also vulnerable to both petty and serious crime (such as sex trafficking) because they fear going to the police, and they bear the heaviest burden from the penetration of U.S. cities by Central American criminal gangs. They suffer economic exploitation of various kinds, including criminal victimization such as being forced to pay kickbacks out of their already meager wages. Even if they judge their situation to be better as an illegal immigrant in the United States than it was at home, it is not kindness to create the conditions where intimidation and exploitation is inevitable.

Even as they flee from poverty and crime back home, reports suggest that many of the illegal immigrants who arrived to New York this week were actually put off by the city's newfound reputation for violent crime
Even as they flee from poverty and crime back home, reports suggest that many of the illegal immigrants who arrived to New York this week were actually put off by the city’s newfound reputation for violent crime
Gregory P. Mango

Rather than kindness, it is, as a practical matter, cowardice:  And the political incentives mostly favor maintaining this unkind status quo. There are politically influential industries such as construction and hospitality that welcome any downward pressure on wages and lobby for more permissive immigration practices. Then there are the ethnic lobbies that demand the United States tolerate illegal immigration in the service of parochial communal interests; this is what the National Council of La Raza means by the counterfactual claim “No worker is illegal!”. And there is the old-fashioned kind of stupid partisanship—if Republicans are in favor of policing the border, then Democrats judge that they must perforce be against it.

Any time you have the Chamber of Commerce and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the same side of an issue — as they are with free-flowing immigration –  you should be skeptical.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has likened America's ongoing immigration policies to racism. Her progressive stance on immigration is yet another example of how the left seems to always act in opposition to the right.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has likened America’s ongoing immigration policies to racism. Her progressive stance on immigration is yet another example of how the left always seems to act in opposition to the right.
NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via

The interests of the American people should, of course, occupy the highest place in Washington’s hierarchy of values. But, in the long run, the interests of potential immigrants are best served by the policies that best serve the interests of the nation they wish to join. We do not have to be vindictive or cruel in order to maintain a reasonable and humane immigration policy that prioritizes U.S. economic, political, and cultural interests. What’s more, these policies can be implemented while taking a prudently charitable attitude toward refugees, asylum-seekers, and the much larger and more familiar class of ordinary poor people driven from their homes by poverty and danger. They, too, would be best served by a system that is regular, orderly, open, transparent, and conducted under the rule of law that protects citizens and non-citizen alike.

Greg Abbott’s stunts are not nice. 

But they may do some real good, because the most meaningful unkindness is in our current immigration practices and our refusal to control the borders. The policy of non-enforcement may look like generosity, but it sacrifices the needs of both the American people and would-be immigrants for purely political interests. 





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