What’s the Answer?
As this election season goes along, Republican candidates have become more and more extreme about immigration. No candidate ever says anything at all about what a properly functioning immigration policy would look like. It makes sense from a purely political standpoint to say what you are against, but wouldn’t you like to know what a candidate is for?
Where does this extremist attitude and rhetoric come from?
Racial prejudice has always been with us and our history is replete with examples of exclusionary policies, but it was not overtly part of the modern Republican mainstream until Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign manager, encouraged Trump to demonize immigrants. When the strategy worked, it became the primary focus of Trump’s campaign. The Republican position has now morphed into the belief that Democrats, Jews and liberal “elites” are actively conspiring to encourage illegal immigrants to come to this country to replace whites and install a permanent majority of Democratic voters. This ideology now includes migrants of every color and every nationality. Not so long ago this kind of conspiratorial thinking would be considered lunacy, but according to those who keep score of such things, Tucker Carlson of Fox has mentioned this idea more than 400 times on his show and political candidates and other conservative celebrities are using it on the campaign trail routinely.
The reality is that the U.S. is very short of labor and economists are beginning to believe that the high cost of labor is due, in part, to the shortage of immigrants. This contributes to inflation and also hurts productivity. If you will recall, business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business warned anti-immigration advocates long ago that this would happen. Their prediction seems to be coming true.
We need more labor generally and we will always need the highly skilled and educated in the fields of science, engineering, medicine and technology to remain competitive. A policy of 0 immigration is not realistic and entirely counterproductive to our economic interests.
These politicians are also intentionally ignoring the forces at work which are driving migration. Those forces are lack of basic economic opportunity, i.e., extreme poverty; political oppression and wars; environmental devastation; and, violence. One or more of these factors are at work in the story of every migrant’s overwhelming desire to come to the U.S. These factors aren’t going away. If anything, they will get worse. It is just basic human nature to do everything possible to stay alive and protect your family.
I fear that Republican politicians see more political value (votes) in keeping alive the problem than they do in finding a solution. We should demand more than genuflected political slogans.
As I finished this blog, almost 50 dead migrants and many more near death were found in the closed trailer of an abandoned 18-wheeler in San Antonio. Can you imagine being desperate enough to allow someone to put you in a trailer and close the door behind you in the record setting heat of this summer? Isn’t our inhumane immigration policy at least partially to blame?