The Corner

National Security & Defense

Trump Takes on Somali Immigration

Scott Johnson wrote a great piece at Power Line earlier this week, referencing the Trump campaign’s raising the issue of mass Somali immigration to the U.S. and Trump’s linking this issue  to that of the numerous young Somali-Americans who have attempted and/or succeeded in joining terrorist groups, including ISIS, abroad. Johnson delivers a devastating critique not just of our policy on Somali immigration, but, by extension of our immigration policy generally. His allusions to Pravda are spot-on because the “permitted” conversations about immigration among establishment politicians and our mainstream media are more akin to propaganda than serious discussions of a complex issue.  

Trump, of course, is needlessly divisive in how he discusses Somali immigration, and he got inevitable pearl-clutching blowback from the media—but that doesn’t mean he’s not, for the most part correct. There is a lot of simmering resentment in Maine and Minnesota about the effects the estimated 100,000 Somali immigrants have had on their states, where in addition to a number of Somali’s involvement with terrorism, they have, as Johnson notes, substantially taxed welfare systems.

There’s a difficult balance at play in discussing this issue, that someone with Trump’s bluster is ill-equipped to handle. For those already here legally, we need to welcome them as American citizens, but we should also expect them to embrace American norms. It is not fair to expect to immigrate here and live at a Western standard of living on the taxpayer dime. while maintaining cultural practices deeply at odds with the American mainstream. (Somali immigrants, like many other immigrant groups, are far more dependent on various welfare programs than native-born Americans).

And at a rally to attack Trump and boost Somalis in Maine, even in the predictable staged Constitution-waving photo op, every single woman is wearing a hijab. Is that the future Americans want? Is it wrong for us to ask how this mass immigration benefits us? 

Maine Sen. Susan Collins who has already come out against voting for Trump, called his statements against a community that has largely arrived legally “particularly unhelpful”.  She may be right, nut what’s even more unhelpful is the policies of establishment Republicans like Collins who fall into cheap “legal immigration good/ illegal immigration bad” doublespeak without acknowledging how broken our legal immigration system is, with its rampant chain migration and incredibly poor match between the types of immigrants who come to the U.S. most frequently and the skills the U.S. actually desires in its immigrant population.  Somali immigration policy is one of the starkest examples of this.

The bipartisan pro-mass-Somali Immigration crowd needs to step up and justify why they think their policy of bringing in tens of thousands of largely minimally-skilled immigrants from an impoverished Muslim country that is so dysfunctional that it remains in a low-level civil war, is in the interest of American citizens.  Because if your Congressman or Congresswoman isn’t willing to say he or she is against our policy of mass immigration from Somalia, they almost certainly aren’t serious about doing any sort of serious immigration reform. They are just playing you as a sucker for your vote.

There are genuinely difficult questions in American immigration, like say what we do with illegal immigrants who may have been here for decades and are economically and socially productive members of the community.  Even those of us who favor a more restrictive immigration policy understand that outside of talk radio fantasies, there are going to be things in an immigration policy that can actually pass Congress and become law that we may not love.  But as Johnson’s article demonstrates. this shouldn’t be one of them.

This isn’t always an easy conversation, but it’s a real one.  And if our politicians aren’t willing to have it, even if they call themselves conservatives, they aren’t really interested in conserving much of anything about America. 


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