New CBS News polling finds that people are on balance unhappy with the way President Trump has handled the immigrant family separation problem, and that a clear majority opposes a policy that separates families. But look at this finding:
Almost half of those polled think that the whole family should be returned to their home country. Only one out of five believe that they should be released into the general population, with the hope that they would all show up for a hearing.
The polling suggests that this is certainly not going to help Trump politically, but it’s not going to hurt him nearly as much as the media reporting appears to suggest. Most Americans want the borders to mean something, period, the end.
David Frum is a hardcore Never Trumper, but he has been quite clear-eyed for a very long time about immigration as an issue in American politics. He wrote this last week about it. Excerpts:
The policy of family separation could be brought to an end in one of two ways. The first is to do what Senator Ted Cruz has proposed: Hold those apprehended crossing the border illegally together with their children until they can be removed from the country as a family. Accomplishing that would require both authorizing new facilities and revising court-ordered rules that forbid the detention of children in immigration facilities.
But the Cruz concept has not won many friends across the aisle. Frank Sharry, the executive director of one of the most-quoted immigration advocacy groups, has reviled it as a plan for “family gulags.”
What many immigration advocates have in mind when they oppose “family separation” is preserving family unity by releasing the whole family together into the United States, pending a court date a year or two in the future. Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, has stated this demand: “Congress must explicitly end and prevent family separation and the indefinite detention of children.” If the children are not to be detained and the family not to be separated, the only alternative is to release the whole family into the United States until their application for asylum is resolved. Long before then, of course, most will have disappeared from official view entirely.
This was how things were managed during most of Barack Obama’s presidency.
The claim that most asylum-claimers are fleeing deadly violence is simply not true:
Surveys consistently showed that Central Americans immigrated to the U.S. in search of better work and better pay. A Pew survey in 2011 found that only about 13 percent cited crime and violence as their main motive. But the search for better pay does not provide legal grounds for remaining in the United States; fear of violence might. Immigrants, like all human beings, are rational actors who tell the stories most likely to obtain the result they seek. The medium through which that story is told is the asylum claim.
Asylum claims are way up, even as violence in Honduras and Guatemala is way down, Frum reports. Plus, we simply do not have the legal infrastructure to process all these asylum-claimers properly. Frum:
The questions before the courts are profoundly unresolvable. How much crime must an individual fear to receive asylum? The homicide rate in Guatemala—about 24 per 100,000 people in 2016—was almost five times higher than the United States rate of 5.3 per 100,000 that year. But the German homicide rate in turn is less than 1 per 100,000. Could an American seek asylum in Germany on that basis? You might say: Nobody would want to. But if German wages averaged 10 or 20 times those in the United States, many Americans might change their minds about the urgency of the 5-to-1 violence differential between the two countries.
It is disgusting and wrong to equate human beings with insects and animals, as Trump so disgracefully does. Illegal immigrants are committing no moral wrong. They are doing what we might do in their place—as we, by defending borders, are doing what they would do if they were in ours. Like so many human institutions, borders are both arbitrary and indispensable. Without them, there are no nations. Without nations, there can be no democracy and no liberalism. John Lennon may imagine that without nations there will be only humanity. More likely, without nations there will only be tribes.
Frum goes on to point out that the emerging consensus among Democrats is that any border enforcement is wrong. And the left, egged on by Trump, is working itself into such a hysterical frenzy about it that it believes border enforcement is the same thing as Nazism.
Trump really has handled this badly. But there are no good and easy ways to handle it. The left is closing the door for any solution short of the open-borders one it prefers. The solution that activists decry as “family gulags” is the least bad solution, it seems to me, because it keeps families together until we can deport them. Remember, these people are not being forced to come here. They choose to break out laws — and most of them do so because they want a better life for themselves and their kids than they would have at home. That’s understandable at a human level, and they should not be demonized.
But Trump is right: either we have a border, or we don’t. If these people don’t want to be detained, they shouldn’t try to come into this country illegally. This is a choice they make. If the catch-and-release left wishes to denounce as National Socialists their fellow Americans who believe in borders, it should not be surprised when those Americans decide to vote for the Cretin-In-Chief who has the stones not to care what the left says.
And if they take it upon themselves to assault, or to encourage mob assault, of Trump administration officials over the immigration issue, as Rep. Maxine Waters did this past weekend, they should not be surprised by the backlash:
To their credit, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer denounced Mad Maxine’s rant. They’re not stupid. They know that she crossed a big line, and they surely know as well that as unhappy as most Americans are with the president’s handling of this issue, only one in five Americans favors the essentially open-borders policy advocated by the militant wing of the party. The hysteria mounting on the left is leaving its leaders with no place to go. Any compromise at all will look like making a deal with Triple Hitler.
Angry, in-your-face confrontations dramatically increase the chances of violence. Put people in close proximity, yelling and spitting, and public officials will rightly start to fear that they’re in physical danger. While millions of Americans don’t remember that a Bernie Sanders supporter last year tried to assassinate a significant portion of the GOP Congress, you can be assured that not a single Republican in Washington has forgotten. They can never be sure that the screaming person in front of them doesn’t mean them physical harm.
Argue against these dangerous confrontations, and you’ll always get the same response: This administration is uniquely evil. It was taking children from their parents. The president just tweeted that he wants to strip due-process rights from illegal immigrants. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
What is the limiting principle here? The president caved on family separation after a few days of intense, bipartisan public pressure. Now the immigration policy the protesters are targeting is similar to one the Obama administration applied until late in his presidency.
French is right. Bipartisan pressure ended Trump’s worst idea. But most people do not like catch-and-release liberalism either. We are being brought closer to political violence over immigration, and that a number of people on the left — including a member of Congress — are publicly declaring that the evil of Republicans is so great that they no longer have to abide by the ordinary terms of civic life. If, God forbid, some Republican politician or government official is mortally wounded in a leftist attack, what then?
UPDATE: This horrible white woman is a big part of the problem. The Mexican-American man she is abusing in this video was born right here in America. And even if he hadn’t been, she ought to be ashamed of herself. She is driving the cycle of hate, and there is NO justification for her thoughts and words.