The New Children’s Crusade
Almost everything we are told about illegal immigration is both a lie and amoral.


Victor Davis Hanson

Sometime around 1212, mystics in Europe cooked up the idea that kids could part the seas, reach the Holy Land, reclaim Jerusalem, and convert the infidel Muslims. Thousands of children in Northern Europe flocked to the Mediterranean in response to such rumors, but when they reached the shore, the seas would not part, and many of them died as they scattered home in hunger.

We are witnessing a sort of children’s crusade on our own southern border. Thousands of young, poor would-be immigrants — 90,000 this year alone — have swarmed across the border, the logical fruition of the entire cynical approach of the Obama administration toward illegal immigration.

During his first term, President Obama lectured Latino activists (at the same time he was advising them to “punish our enemies” at the polls) that he was not a tyrant and thus lacked the executive power simply to offer amnesty by fiat. Translated, that meant something along the lines of “Keep cool for another year or two until I am reelected, and then the law becomes irrelevant, and we will have more constituents to enhance our political power.” On cue, after the 2012 election, Obama opened the border and started issuing a series of de facto amnesties to various categories of illegal aliens, especially children.

People in Latin America took note of the erosion of U.S. immigration law, as did our friends in Mexico who facilitated their transit. It is not quite clear whether the recent surges of kids and teens are grass-roots phenomena, or in part orchestrated by the Latin American media and governments. The latter seem to think that the clueless U.S. is not much good for anything other than offering a safety valve for what they consider their own excess population and a source of billions of dollars in cash through remittances.

What we can say for sure is that Obama has nullified U.S. immigration law, made it clear that deportations were de facto over, praised the arrival of young illegal aliens, and thereby prompted a surge northward of thousands more kids without their parents. The apparent thinking of the crusading children was that the U.S. border would open, as the Mediterranean once was supposed to have done. Kids would become near-instantaneous citizens. And they would then be anchors for their patient parents, who had sent them ahead with the promise they would all soon be reunited in the north.

This latest cruel episode — What sort of parent sends his children across the desert unaccompanied? What sort of country allows its youth just to walk away en masse? What sort of country facilitates their transfer across its own territory into the U.S.? And what sort of American administration tolerates this human tragedy as a way of building a future political constituency? — reminds us that almost everything we are told about illegal immigration is both a lie and amoral.

Let us quickly review these shibboleths.

Those who oppose illegal immigration are dubbed nativists and racists. But if so, why do Americans not object when Africans, Latinos, and Asians immigrate legally and in reasonable numbers — given that legal immigration has long since virtually ceased to be a European phenomenon?

In fact, illegal immigration is in itself a racist enterprise. Latino activists here are eager to welcome new illegal immigrants and ensure that immigration laws are not enforced not because they believe it benefits the United States. They are not concerned with the American working poor and the effect of cheap labor on their livelihoods. They could not care less about the abstract principles of immigration (what would the La Raza industry say should 300,000 Congolese immigrants, fleeing genocide, unload from freighters off the Texas coast?).

Identity-politics operatives are focused on illegal immigration solely because it involves tribal identity. Were illegal immigrants not predominantly Latinos, then Latino activists would not worry much about illegal immigration other than to oppose it. Consider the implied racialist proposition: Either accept our demand that we alone can adjudicate who enters the U.S. and under what conditions, or we declare you racists.

Mexico is not a partner with the United States, as we see from its facilitation of the current children’s crusade. For Mexico, there are simply too many upsides in flooding the border areas with its own citizens and other Latin Americans: billions of dollars in remittances, a safety valve to alleviate the consequences of its own political failures, a way to establish a population of loyal expatriates who become fonder of Mexico the more distant they are from it, and a sort of Schadenfreude that the Yanquis are getting some payback for their past insensitivity to Latin American sovereignty.