Washington is skirting around its constitutional duty to guard the border.
One of the bloggers suggests that 2006 may be the year of the Lou Dobbs voter. The blogger, the Influence Peddler, is no fan. He considers Dobbs a demagogue, but he wonders whether voters are ready for a Dobbsian program of opposing illegal immigration, “throwing the bums out of Washington” and staying wary of international trade.
On immigration, this suggestion may reflect a shift in public opinion after the May 1 marches, away from the belief that the pro-illegals lobby had decisively altered public opinion, toward the realization that the marches may have created a powerful backlash.
Citing Arizona’s new anti-smuggling law, the sheriff of Maricopa County (Phoenix) announced that a posse of a hundred deputies and volunteers would begin patrolling the desert. This appears to be an act of official frustration, not one of those cosmetic attempts to placate the right. The Minutemen, denounced as vigilantes by President Bush but greatly respected in the state, are now building a fence on private land along the Mexican border. They are going national too, with chapters popping up in Virginia and elsewhere.
The frustration level in Arizona is so high that a local prosecutor, Andrew Thomas of Maricopa County, organized a national immigration conference and gave a fiery speech on the chaos, crime and cost of the tide of illegals. Last spring, I managed to get lost in one of the rugged canyons of southeast Arizona, and stumbled on two camping areas for illegals, each with about as much debris as you might expect from an airliner crash.
Mercedes Maharis, who lives near that canyon, has just released a documentary on DVD, “Cochise County, USA: Cries From the Border.” The eeriest footage is infrared photography of illegals, maybe a hundred or more, swarming across the border at night. The turning point for one woman came when she set up a tepee in her back yard and noticed one morning that a group of illegals was living in it. The withering remarks in the film are not aimed at the illegals, but at Washington for abandoning its constitutional duty to guard the border.
The national news media, which spent most of its energies covering the marches as a heartwarming civil rights effort, is belatedly recognizing that much of America doesn’t see it that way. As the Los Angeles Times reports, “Activists who take the toughest stance against illegal immigration have formed too many groups to count, and more seem to crop up every week.”
Around 67 percent of Americans have been telling pollsters for years that they want illegal immigration curtailed. Soon the media will notice the populist appeal of this huge constituency facing off against two sets of entrenched elites, the corporate elites of the right, supported by Republican politicians, and the academic elites of the left, supported by Democratic politicians.
Editorialists seem to discuss the illegals mostly in terms of compassion and the impossibility of deporting the 11 million already here. But the core of the problem is that illegal entry is a never-ending process. An amnesty-light compromise in Washington is unlikely to do much more about this than the allegedly tough amnesty-light program of 1986. In a poll last August, about 40 percent of adults surveyed in Mexico said they would like to move to the United States. If so, there would be another 28 million people. Mexico has a high birthrate, a broken political culture and a government determined to dump its poor on the United States. It even publishes a comic book showing illegals how to avoid the U.S. border patrol.
High and continuous immigration is occurring under conditions of bilingualism and multiculturalism, rather than assimilation. In the name of diversity, the academic elites have encouraged immigrants to maintain their birth-country cultures and to adopt a stance of separatism and pugnacious victimization. Political scientist Samuel Huntington argues that this amounts to a deconstruction of American identity that has been “gradually created over three centuries.” In his book “Mexifornia,” Victor Davis Hanson says California is not quite Mexico, but not quite the United States either.
The political culture of Washington, focused on cheap labor and Latino votes, is nowhere near recognizing what is happening.
John Leo is a syndicated columnist.