By Roger Aronoff
Whatever one thinks of Donald Trump, the Trump effect has clearly struck a chord with Americans on several fronts: contempt for the media, the belief that America is far too often a chump when it comes to international dealings (whether trade or national security), and, of course, issues related to illegal immigration. He was even recently defended—sort of—by the liberal MSNBC pundit, Chris Matthews. Matthews appears to be somewhat moved by Trump’s recently released immigration agenda, questioning whether this candidate is a “true phenomenon.”
“Of the people who care about illegal immigration, who don`t refer to it euphemistically as ‘undocumented workers’ or something like that, who really don`t like illegal immigration, this guy seems to be scoring,” said Matthews on his August 18 “Hardball” show, turning then to Salon editor-at-large Joan Walsh.
“But you know, I mean, that proposal would create essentially a police state to round up and move out 11 million undocumented immigrants and possibly their American-born children,” said Walsh, who is usually on the same page as Matthews. “So it’s not really—”
Matthews repeatedly cut her off, and demanded to know, specifically, “What is there out there that would actually stop illegal immigration besides [Trump] talking about it?”
Americans are, quite frankly, sick and tired of the crimes being committed by illegal aliens, and then finding out that, for example, an individual who had been deported five times, and convicted of felonies seven times—was then released back onto the streets until he committed a brutal, senseless crime. In that case, Francisco Sanchez murdered Kate Steinle in San Francisco, just last month. The mainstream media consider it acceptable to look the other way and not report on festering criminal illegal alien behavior such as murder and assault. However, insisting that people who came here illegally, created a false identity for themselves, or overstayed a visa, should now be able to stay here and be given a pathway to citizenship is considered good progressive policy and highly compassionate.
“If immigrants are principally defined by their missing papers, their path to legal status becomes far more tenable,” writes Emily Bazelon for The New York Times Magazine on August 18. “Imagine if we started calling all immigrants ‘dreamers,’ which is how many of us think of our own ancestors.”
“And ‘illegals’ implies a permanent caste, as if there is no possibility of becoming anything else—even if millions of immigrants in the course of American history have shown otherwise.”
Of course, members of the mainstream media imply that if Congress would only pass comprehensive immigration reform, granting immediate amnesty followed by a pathway to citizenship, then these issues would resolve themselves.
Since President Obama refuses to enforce the existing laws, it seems far-fetched to consider it credible that he would properly enforce any new laws Congress might pass. Stephen Dinan reported for The Washington Times in April that “both arrests and deportations of criminal aliens are down about 30 percent through the first six months of fiscal year 2015.”
Clearly, the Obama administration is failing if it intends to enforce immigration law—or even selectively enforce parts of it.
“And guess what? The Democrats want the votes,” said Matthews on his show. “And that’s the secret of this whole thing, and that’s why a guy like Trump, who may well be a demagogue, is at least saying something that people can hear.” He added that, in his view, Republicans and the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal want amnesty as a steady source of cheap labor.
“…sources inside the Department of Homeland Security say a new program is urging them to become citizens in time to vote in the 2016 election,” reported Fox News this April. “Of the 20 states with the highest green card population, 14 are holding Senate races in 2016, so millions of new voters could dramatically impact the election.”
Former President Bill Clinton recently claimed that net “in-migration” to the U.S. from Mexico is now neutral. However, the Center for Immigration Studies determined this month that Mexican immigration has actually “increased by 740,000 from 2014 to 2015—accounting for 44 percent of the increase in the total immigrant population in the last year.”
But the question of whether the illegal immigrants residing in, and flowing to, America are Mexican citizens or originate from other countries may be a clever distraction from the real discussion: illegal immigration’s negative impacts.
“More non-Mexicans than Mexicans were apprehended at U.S. borders in 2014, the first time on record this has happened,” the Pew Research Center reported in July. More specifically, the Mexican unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and families apprehended by the Border Patrol made up less than one quarter of those apprehended along the Southwest border, according to the Border Patrol’s fiscal year 2015 numbers.
“The Obama administration last year initially blamed bad economies and growing gang violence…for sparking the surge, but later acknowledged that human traffickers were marketing the journey by pointing out a loophole in [the] U.S. immigration system that requires non-Mexican children to be released into the U.S. while they await final immigration decisions,” reported Dinan for The Washington Times in April. “That gives them a chance to abscond and disappear into the shadows with the more than 11 million other illegal immigrants in the country.”
Many people believe the number is much higher—perhaps more like 30 million—and this week the former Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. inadvertently referred to “the 30 million undocumented immigrants in the United States” on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” before “correcting” himself, saying the number was 11.3 million.
The media are content instead to play election year politics. The New York Times made space on its August 19 front page to cover how Trump’s immigration agenda may cost the Republican Party the 2016 presidential election. We know how concerned the Times must be about that possibility.
“For many readers of ‘First Thoughts’ know all too well, there’s no path to the White House for the GOP if their nominee can’t at least come close to 35% of the Hispanic vote,” wrote MSNBC’s Chuck Todd and Mark Murray on August 19. “And ending birthright citizenship could easily turn into the wedge issue NEXT fall, a la Todd Akin.” More concern for the fate of the GOP.
Trump’s immigration plan says it would “End birthright citizenship.”
The argument that anchor babies shouldn’t become U.S. citizens may be controversial, but it is by no means a “white supremacist” perspective, nor does it, as MSNBC reports, “question the legality of the Constitution.” The Heritage Foundation’s Matthew Spalding explained in 2010 for U.S. News & World Report that in 1898 “the Supreme Court expanded the constitutional mandate, holding that the children of legal, permanent residents were automatically citizens.”
“While the decision could be (and is often) read more broadly, the court has never held that the clause confers automatic citizenship on the children of temporary visitors, much less of illegal residents,” argued Spalding. Trump told CNN on Wednesday that changing this wouldn’t require amending the Constitution, but that it could be done through legal challenges.
Trump’s utter contempt for the media has also struck a chord with Americans. He doesn’t hesitate to call their questions, or them, for that matter, “dumb” or “stupid,” and he doesn’t bow to political correctness. He is not only forcing the other candidates to respond to him, and take positions that they wouldn’t have had to take otherwise—he is also forcing the mainstream media to confront issues that reporters would rather not cover at all.
It’s a long road ahead until the first votes are cast at the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary in early February, and from there a short hop to Super Tuesday on March 1st, when 12 states will choose their delegates to the summer conventions. At that point the dust may settle a bit, and we should have a much better idea of who is likely to prevail—or at least who the finalists are likely to be—in each of the major political parties. Until then, it’s anyone’s guess.