The Corner

Politics & Policy

‘Sorry, Donald Trump Has a Point’

I thought Trump would eventually beat a retreat to Celebrity Apprentice, but now that that avenue is cut off, I guess he’s in for the duration. At least for the near-term, he is enjoying a Herman Cain–like surge, fueled in part by the media and corporate campaign against him. I write about the immigration fracas in my Politico column today: 

The shunning of Trump is in response to his uh, memorable presidential announcement that included comments about the alleged criminality of Mexican immigrants that were typically crude. Trump could make a statement about arcane tax policy details related to accelerated depreciation for business investment — and still make you want to take a shower afterward . . .

As for his instantly notorious Mexico comments, they did more to insult than to illuminate, yet there was a kernel in them that hit on an important truth that typical politicians either don’t know or simply fear to speak. “When Mexico sends its people,” Trump said, “they’re not sending their best.”

This is obviously correct. We aren’t raiding the top 1 percent of Mexicans and importing them to this country. Instead, we are getting representative Mexicans, who — through no fault of their own, of course — come from a poorly educated country at a time when education is essential to success in an advanced economy.

Trump’s comments made it sound as though Mexico is sending us moral defectives. That’s not the larger problem (although gangs certainly exploit the border and there are criminals in any population). Immigrants are willing to work. Immigrant men aged 18-65 are in the labor force at a higher rate than native men.

It’s just that a lack of education is an anchor around even the hardest-working person in modern America . . .

If a responsible politician were to take up this issue, he might say what David Cameron did in 2013:

I’ve always understood the concerns – the genuine concerns of hard-working people, including many in our migrant communities, who worry about uncontrolled immigration. They worry about the pressure it puts on public services, the rapid pace of change in some of our communities and of course the concerns, deeply held, that some people might be able to come and take advantage of our generosity without making a proper contribution to our country.  Now, these concerns, they’re not just legitimate; they are right. And it’s the fundamental duty of every mainstream politician to address them . . .

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