Back in 2015 I decided that I was going to vote for Donald Trump for president (I did, twice – so far…). You can imagine how many people tried to talk me out of it, describing him as everything from stupid to crazy to dangerous to incompetent and above all, phony. Many were surprised to learn that I shared many of their reservations about Trump, and they had little to add once I told them my main reason for supporting him: “no major party candidate has spoken out so strongly about illegal entry and stay in about a hundred years! Just the mere fact that he’s even talking about it – even if he doesn’t accomplish anything – renders him in my view to be the best possible choice.”
I’m a cheap date, so to speak. Make a speech about curbing what I call transnational trespass and you’ve got my vote.
Those who don’t know me very well will often attempt to predict why I am so passionate about this issue, jumping the same conclusions they do about so many others who share my point of view. It must be, they conclude, that I don’t like “brown people.” I have to chuckle when I hear that, considering I was blessed to have been born into a multiethnic neighborhood and from as far back as I can remember having a house full of friends of any race, nationality, and religion that you can imagine, a couple of ‘white kids’ and a couple of Greeks (notice I make a distinction between the two). I didn’t have to learn about diversity from a research journal or in a conference presentation given by some pseudointellectual trying to compensate for his or her overriding feelings of white guilt. Some of the things that bother me about PHIs (Persons Here Illegally) have to do with lack of cultural assimilation, but nothing to do with brownness: they could be Swedes named Inga or Greeks named Stavros for all I care: if they’re here illegally, they’re here illegally.
I also have nothing against the PHIs themselves (except the ones who are violent criminals; I would deport them first, and figure out a way to send our native-born violent criminals along with them). Most PHIs come here for a better life. They are assured that the vast majority of Americans don’t care that they’re here illegally, and will welcome them with open arms. They’re told that Democrats want them for their votes, and Republicans want them for their cheap labor, and for paying taxes (yes, many of them do) into a system from which they will probably never collect (what a neat trick!). They’re told that immigration laws are really just on the books for symbolic reasons and that, much like jaywalking, no one really cares. The unfortunate part is that story is very close to reality, and so these aspiring PHIs figure: “why not just enter or remain in the United States illegally? What’s the worst thing they’ll do to me, send me back to my own country and they pay for my way back?” My concern is not specific PHIs, but the overall problem itself.
Other than blaming it on racism and xenophobia, those who don’t understand the passion to fight against illegal entry and stay spew statistics about “jobs Americans won’t do,” as if contributing to American unemployment is even remotely close to being a major reason why I don’t want anyone coming here illegally. I’m not worried about being displaced in the labor market by a PHI who is picking oranges in some California grove, because that’s not what I do for a living. I can be replaced, though, by a foreign-born professional who is more talented and better credentialed than me: but I support such people coming here – even if it means taking my job – because they come here, and stay here, legally. That is merit-based immigration, not chain migration.
As for those who pick fruit and lay bricks, let them come here by the busload on guest worker programs. They’ll be documented, thoroughly vetted, medically cleared, protected by labor and safety laws, still doing all those jobs Americans purportedly won’t do, and best of all, they’ll be here legally.
When I practiced immigration law – and actually achieved legal status for more PHIs than white progressives have befriended to flaunt their wokeness – the vast majority of PHIs in the United States entered the country legally, usually by airplane and with a valid nonimmigrant visa, and then got lost in a crowd of hundreds of millions of people and never went back. The border-jumpers were a smaller percentage, but now they’ve stormed the border like troops in Normandy on D-Day.
The reasons why the perpetuation of transnational trespass is disastrous – not least of which to PHIs themselves – are far too numerous to list in this space, but are well-documented in my book ‘Stop Calling Them Immigrants.’ Despite his summation that “if we don’t have borders, we don’t have a country,” not even the return of Donald Trump or someone equally as committed to the cause is going to get much accomplished if the American people themselves don’t care. Besides COVID – which, understandably, tops the list of concerns – Democrats care about the environment, the prevention of mass shootings, the expansion of LGBTQ rights, and social justice in general, specifically the curbing of white-on-black violence. Republicans are paranoid about a leftist takeover of their health care and their gun rights, and they’ve never met a tax cut they didn’t like. But hardly anyone seems to care about our porous borders and dysfunctional immigration system. A PHI who crossed the Rio Grande can easily be admitted to the University of Texas and pay in-state tuition, while an American-born New Yorker, Kansan, or Michigander has to pay more money as an out-of-stater to attend.
Until Americans really start caring about this issue by the dozens of millions, we will not find a solution to illegal entry and stay, which, along with media malpractice and political overcorrectness, remain our nation’s three biggest problems.