Donald Trump, we now learn, is dead set against DACA, but he is all for Congress passing DACA into law. It will be their fault, not his, if he’s forced to deport all those kids he loves so much. What do we make of this, besides a cynical pol trying to have it both ways?
Possibly El Presidente has realized that being viciously anti-immigrant was really good for getting nominated by the Republican Party’s fringe, pretty good for getting elected in a closely divided race. However, actually deporting all those attractive, aspiring young people. brought here as children without a vote in the matter, seems to a substantial majority of the county like cruel zealotry.
And it will make for terrible optics, as we now say. Imagine the TV cameras covering the heart-rending scene as a weeping young person is deported to a country they have never visited and whose language they may not even speak. Now, imagine the same scene repeated 800,000 times.
What to do? Well commonsense is always possible as a last resort. Nativist distaste for all immigrants, an attitude once summed up in Britain as “the wogs begin at Calais,” is lousy policy in a country of immigrants, though the Native-Americans can surely share the feeling.
It is also bad economics. Like Russia, Japan, and much of Europe, the United States is about to stop producing enough babies to replace the number of us who die each year. A shrinking population is bad for business, and really bad for keeping Social Security and Medicare systems solvent.
The solution, of course, is welcoming an annual influx of new blood to make up the difference. We have been renewed and invigorated for almost 400 years by arrivals yearning to breathe free. It should not be beyond our ingenuity to stop illegal immigrants from crossing our borders in droves, a process that can only increase as climate change provokes vast global migrations making a fix ever more urgent.
We also ought to be clever enough to admit some refugees fleeing for their lives, but to balance compassion for them with calculation in regard to all other applicants, favoring those with marketable skills or accomplishments that are likely to make the newcomers valuable additions to our country rather than burdens to it.
Trump has previously proposed an absurdly high bar, requiring immigrants to pass rigorous tests in English and to possess impossible credentials, such as Nobel Prize caliber work for scientific applicants. By such measures, Herr Drumpf, the president’s brothel-running, German-speaking ancestor would never have become a citizen.
Many illegal immigrants are here because they are welcomed by businesses who employ them illegally and profitably. Thus, law breaking Americans out to enrich themselves are the enablers of illegal immigration. Mandatory use of a system like E-Verify to police employment is necessary, as are punishments stiff enough to deter infractions.
Is it impossible for Congress to write a law with features such as these? No, though both Democrats and Republicans would have to yield a point here and there. Is Congress willing to compromise in such a fashion? That’s far less clear, since running on anti-immigrant sentiment favors one party and blasting those who do it the other
Finally, even if such a law could be crafted and passed, would Congress be willing to appropriate sufficient funds to secure the border, police it, verify employment only go to legal residents, to vet applicants and punish scofflaw capitalists? There’s the rub.
It’s a lot easier to run on demonizing the other than to create and pay for a working immigration system. Which is why we don’t have one. I will gladly adjure my cynicism if Congress does manage to do the right thing. But pigs will probably fly across the border as immigrants before that happens