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Remember When We Had Sovereignty?

Every other debate hinges on border security.

Haitian migrants, part of a group of over 10,000 people staying in an encampment on the U.S. side of the border, cross the Rio Grande river to get food and water in Mexico, after another crossing point was closed near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. (Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)

In an attempt to quickly empty the town-sized camp of migrants currently living at the U.S.-Mexico border, an unknown number of Haitian migrants are being released into the United States, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The report, which comes from two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to not being authorized to discuss the matter, explains that many of the Haitian migrants have been released with notices to appear at an immigration office in 60 days—because catch and release, of course, has proven so effective in the past. The migrants, who are not required to be vaccinated for entry, unlike American citizens in every job with over 100 employees, were supposedly being bused to El Paso, Laredo, and the Rio Grande Valley for processing. Some have been deported back to Port-au-Prince, but thousands remain.

We’ve seen this show before, too many times to count. A flood of migrants shows up at the border, Border Patrol agents lack sufficient resources to process every asylum claim, and so another several-thousand-strong colony is welcomed in and told, almost as an afterthought, “don’t forget to show up to court in two months.” How many actually return for their court date is a hotly disputed data point; but even so, to make sure that conservative talking point is moot, Border Patrol has been instructed to release migrants without a court date in recent months, because all that really matters is getting them in.

The gaslighting from libertarians and leftists about a right to migration and asylum, or the supposed economic benefits of a free flow of cheap labor are obscuring a question that is essentially about identity. Who, and what, is America?

As The American Conservative‘s Declan Leary pointed out today, identity comes from the Latin word which means “same.” In other words, without some level of homogeneity, at least the kind of shared culture that comes with shared history and time, we have no identity. Without sovereignty—the physical boundary between what we are and what we are not—we have no nation.

Our debates about national policy; our concerns about the direction of American culture; our battles of ideology and ideas—all are meaningless if we don’t have a nation. One of the basic actions of a nation is deciding who is or is not a part of that us.

Estimates of the number of migrants camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, range from 8,000 to 14,000. We know many are from Haiti, but politicians have suggested only half answers for why they are here. Most of the Haitians already have refugee status in Brazil or Chile, AP reported, and weren’t seeking it in Mexico. Look at the photos of the migrants. These are healthy, young men, not the poor women and children asylum policy is purported to protect. Perhaps they have read their Locke, and are seeking higher political fulfillment in a post-Enlightenment society—but then again, perhaps not. More likely, they’ve heard about their so-called right to an American life, and the free money and protections they will receive upon arrival.

While we’re up in arms about Del Rio, let’s not lose sight of what’s actually at stake. A group of migrants that is bigger than all but the 13 largest towns in Wyoming has shown up on our doorstep and demanded entry. Whether we choose to let them in or to maintain our national sovereignty is the most important question our nation is facing today. Everything else hinges on this.

about the author

Carmel Richardson is the 2021-2022 editorial fellow at The American Conservative. She received her B.A. from Hillsdale College in political philosophy with a minor in journalism. She firmly believes that the backroads are better than the interstate, and though she currently resides in Northern Virginia, her home state will always be Tennessee.

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