The Corner

Immigration

Really, This Is Why Trump Won

Migrants return to Mexico after being hit by tear gas by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after attempting to illegally cross the border into the United States in Tijuana, Mexico, November 25, 2018. (Adrees Latif/Reuters )

“This is why Trump won” has become a kind of conservative in-joke, invoked when there is an episode of over-the-top political correctness — and, like a lot of in-jokes, it’s only half-joking.

But have a look at today’s headlines: A mob of would-be illegal immigrants trying to crash through U.S. border security; an illegal immigrant shooting at police while enjoying DACA protection courtesy of the Obama administration despite a history of arrests and criminal charges that had him already on ICE’s radar; Democrats complaining about Trump “politicizing” immigration reform — as though it could be anything other than political — etc.

With all that is going on, from economic concerns to fights over judicial appointments, it’s worth keeping in mind that that is almost certainly literally why Trump won — and why he ended up with the Republican nomination in the first place. There is a profound gulf — and it is not only a political gulf — between those Americans who think illegal immigration is no big deal and those who think it is a very big deal indeed.

Those who believe that illegal immigration is no big deal owe their more skeptical fellow countrymen a reasonable explanation of why it is that we should allow our laws to go unenforced and our borders uncontrolled even as we burden would-be legal immigrants with ever more officiously enforced regulation.

And if the Democrats really have come around to the view that illegal immigration is a trivial issue, then come January they should use their new majority in the House to put forward what they believe to be a reasonable immigration-law settlement that does not make a mockery of the very idea of law enforcement. If they are, as they like to say, on the right side of History, then that should be a winning proposal.

As it stands, we have law-abiding professionals working in the United States on temporary visas who can be confident that they would be deported swiftly if they were to, say, earn some extra money in a side job for an employer who reports that income, or if they were convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. At the same time, we have millions and millions of illegals flouting the law entirely — and, sometimes, committing serious crimes — and we are told that we simply must come to an accommodation for them, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me or to many others. That is perverse, a contradiction that is not going to be politically sustainable forever.

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