The Corner

A Swing and a Miss from Geo. Will

Pundits can’t be experts in everything. I, for instance, know nothing about the relative merits of the different varieties of Moldavian folk dancing. But I’m also not on national TV confidently offering an opinion.

George Will’s comments yesterday suggest his familiarity with immigration rivals my folk dancing expertise. He economically packed a slew of mistakes into a just a few sentences.

He referred sarcastically to “eight-year-old criminals with their teddy bears​,” having swallowed the Democratic/MSM line that the “unaccompanied minors” are mainly young children. In fact, 84 percent of unaccompanied minors apprehended so far this fiscal year are teenagers. Half the total are 15-17-year-old boys. In fact, it’s certain that some non-trivial share aren’t minors at all, having lied about their age. How many of them have teddy bears?

Will again: “We ought to say to these children, ‘Welcome to America. You’re going to go to school, get a job, and become Americans.’” Implicit here is that these are abandoned juveniles, wards of the state, whom we must take under our wing. This will come as a surprise to their families. In fact, through June, 96 percent of those transferred by immigration authorities to the Department of Health and Human Services have been released to sponsors in the U.S., the majority of them the juveniles’ parents (most of the rest almost certainly other family members).

Nor is “unaccompanied” even correct. As a Salvadoran smuggler recently told a paper in his country: “It makes me laugh when the media talk about the children traveling alone. No one goes alone. The smugglers take them all.”

And that doesn’t even account for the fact that at least half of the minors apprehended by the Border Patrol aren’t even pretending to be traveling alone — they’re traveling with their families.

Will then shows his arithmetic prowess to demonstrate that the yoke is easy and the burden light: “We have 3,141 counties in this country. That’d be 20 per county,” referring to the 57,000 “unaccompanied” “minors” apprehended so far this year. First, there’s the obvious fact that virtually all will settle in a handful of populous metro areas (Loving County, Texas has 82 people — will they be taking 20 too?). More importantly, what makes Will think the 57,000 are the end of the story? Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are home to 12 million people under 18 — can they all come? If not, why not? There are close to 3 billion people in the world living in countries with lower per capita GDPs than Honduras — can they come too? My colleague Jerry Kammer points to Deng Xiaoping’s response when Jimmy Carter offered similar sentimentalist foolishness: ”Fine. How many do you want? Ten million?”

And if every unfortunate youngster in Central America — indeed, the world — is not eligible to “go to school, get a job, and become Americans”, then the selection mechanism Will seems to be proposing is literally darwinist. Only those who can survive “The Beast” – a.k.a. the “Train of Death” — get in? Only those who survive rapists get in? George W. Bush, while still governor of Texas, expressed this survival-of-the-fittest approach to immigration when commenting on illegal aliens traversing a remote area of West Texas: “Hell, if they’ll walk across Big Bend, we want ‘em.”​

This is the ugly choice Will’s drivel leads us to — 1) open borders, where everyone in the world can move here, or 2) trial by ordeal, where we erect barriers to weed out the feeble and then welcome the survivors. I don’t think Will actually supports either of those options, but that’s where his silly thinking leads.

In the immortal words of Jay Pritchett, “He really oughta run things through his head first.”

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