Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

How Illegal Immigration Finally Turned Off the Public

If there were not a Donald Trump, he would likely have had to have been invented. 

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media

Shot and chaser: Democrat activist Jorge Ramos of Univison badgers Donald Trump; is (temporarily) deported from presser by Trump’s security. (AP Photos/Charlie Neibergall)

Shot and chaser: Democrat activist Jorge Ramos of Univison badgers Donald Trump; is (temporarily) deported from presser by Trump’s security. (AP Photos/Charlie Neibergall)

Why did the illegal-immigration issue launch Donald Trump’s campaign? Why did his recent tense press conference exchange with Univision’s Jorge Ramos please even some of Trump’s liberal critics? What is it about illegal immigration that has finally turned off so many Americans?

1. Race

Over the years immigration activists successfully deconstructed the complex issue of illegal immigration into a race and class morality tale of privileged whites picking on poor brown people. The operative buzzwords were “racism,” “nativism,” and “xenophobia.” That theme is now mostly bankrupt given that every great lie eventually falls from its own weight.

It was rarely the host, but more often the activists on behalf of the guests, who framed illegal immigration in racial terms. Activists foolishly fabricated the controversy as “we noble Latinos” against “you prejudiced non-Latinos.” They forgot apparently two obvious truths: one, thirty percent of Americans are not so-called white; and, two, most people resent ethnic chauvinism. Is an unemployed African-American sympathetic to the argument that someone has a birthright to illegally cross into the United States and find instant employment? Is a Punjabi-American, waiting patiently for his engineer cousin to get a green card, eager to be told the United States must make special concessions to the Latino lobby? Does a third-generation Mexican-American prefer that his neighborhood school and emergency room be flooded with indigent illegal Mexican nationals?

Sometime in the last five years, the public woke up and grasped that Latino elite activists were not so much interested in illegal immigration per se, but only to the degree that the issue affected other Latinos. Were 3,000 Chinese illegally entering California per day by ship on the Northern California coast, Latino activists and politicians would probably be the first to call for enforcement of federal immigration law.

It is difficult for the National Council of La Raza to attempt to airbrush away vocabulary like “anchor baby” and “illegal immigration,” while insisting that its own nomenclature “La Raza” has nothing to do with race. The public knows that La Raza means “The Race,” and that those who founded that organization chose that racially charged noun for the precise purpose of ethnic triumphalism — in the way that every infamous 20th-century Latinate racist demagogue from Mussolini to Franco found a use for Raza/Razza, a mostly taboo term in Mediterranean Europe today. In an age when the Washington Redskins earn a presidential rebuke, it is inconceivable that the chief illegal-immigration advocate is a federally subsidized group known as the National Council of La Raza. No other organization would dare use such a term. In the public mind illegal immigration has gone from the old narrative that racists were enforcing the law to keep out mostly brown people to a new generation of racists who are trying to subvert the law to bring in mostly brown people.

2. The Law

The old canard that without law there is nothing did not resonate with voters in connection with illegal immigration until the 21st century. As long as there were only one or two million illegal immigrants apparently the public turned a blind eye. No longer. Extremists took legal noncompliance to an entirely new level of Orwellian arrogance. Suddenly, as if by fiat, the illegal-immigration lobby banned the term “illegal alien” — as if they had never read a word of 1984 or Animal Farm. They dreamed up “sanctuary city,” a reactionary, neo-Confederate idea of legal nullification, whose logical trajectory is the implosion of the entire idea of federal laws constitutionally supreme to state and local statutes. They lied by insisting that entering the United States illegally was simply a minor misdemeanor, when most Americans knew such unlawful entry was the beginning, not the end, of negating the law — inaugurating years of fake IDs, false Social Security numbers, second and third identities, and deliberate filing of untruthful federal and state documents.

Then the myth arose that criminality among illegal aliens was in fact lower that found in the general population, as if it mattered not at all that a quarter of all federal prisoners were in the United States illegally, or that some states reported that more than a fourth of their felonies were attributable to illegal aliens, or that around 20,000 illegal aliens from south of the border were routinely incarcerated in California prisons alone. Completely lost in the back and forth was the old notion that an immigrant, legal or illegal, was supposed to be a guest, whose behavior should be the model, rather than defended as no worse than those whom he joined.

The public tired of the unfairness in the applicability of the law. How had it come to pass that illegal aliens were not subject to enforcement of federal laws in the manner that all citizens most surely were? All Americans file through passport control when flying home; they are met by stern uniformed bureaucrats who are not an especially forgiving bunch for missing or lost documents. How could it be that millions by virtue of their ethnic fides were not subject to the same scrutiny? And if one law were to be waved, why, the public wonders, not others equally inconvenient?

People finally tired of the postmodern notion that to stop endemic illegality we were supposed to change the language rather than the reality. Americans are not quite yet ready to be Soviet subjects who are to embrace Newspeak, and apparently resented the assumption that they were.

3. Mexico

Mexico itself has become quite unpopular. Accordingly to recent polls, never have Americans had more negative views of Mexico than during the era of Obama. Americans tired of being told that Mexico did not like the U.S., when the real truth was increasingly the opposite. It is not just the daily news of cartels, beheadings, and corruption that made Mexico unattractive, but the cynicism of the Mexican government itself.

Mexico and Central American nations receive $50 billion a year in remittances from their expatriate citizens in the United States. But if illegal aliens were impoverished and exploited as their home countries alleged, how could they transfer such monumental sums back home — and why would not their mother countries worry about the ensuing burdens placed upon their low-wage-earning citizens abroad?

Hypocrisy became synonymous with the idea of Mexico. Its constitution defines illegal immigration in racialist and chauvinist terms — barring those it finds unhealthy or an economic burden or even prone to upset “the equilibrium of the national demographics.” If American emulated Mexican law, almost all illegal aliens would face immediate deportation if not prison sentences. When Mexico deliberately has exported ten percent of its population and lectures the U.S. on their ensuing welfare, then the vocabulary of hypocrisy fails.

During the last two-decade influx of illegal aliens, a huge number was from the Mexican hinterlands, often indigenous peoples from Oaxaca or Chiapas who have long suffered racial discrimination inside Mexico. That Mexico for the first time champions their cause when they leave Mexican soil is the sort of racism of which Mexico habitually accuses the U.S. In some sick sense, Mexico has been ethnically cleansing its own country and then seeking moral cover for its human rights violations by slurring as racist the only refuge for its own unwanted who often were fleeing endemic racist attitudes.

4. Politics

The Obama-age progressive political narrative was that an old, too-white America was changing largely due to immigration and that this was a much-needed antidote to oppressive white privilege. Activists proudly pointed to California and New Mexico’s suddenly solidly blue politics and promised that Texas, Colorado and Nevada were soon to follow. In 2008 and 2012 the so-called “Latino vote” went nationally at about 70% for Democratic candidates. This was deemed a noble thing — but in a way 70% of the white vote not voting for a Democratic candidate would have been seen as proof of “racism” and “backlash.” Conservative cynics alleged a cruel cycle: welcome in millions of indigenous people driven from their racist homelands, offer them public assistance by virtue of the Democratic-sponsored welfare state, and teach them that only liberals care for their welfare while insisting that their families remember who were their patrons at the polls. Yet what was surreal about the charge was not Republican crassness in making it, but the shameless acknowledgment by Democrats that they were not only using illegal immigration as a political tool, but should be praised for doing so. They even warned that their success would doom Republicans unless the latter emulated their strategies!

5. Illegal Immigrants

The illegal-immigration movement only recently has sought to finesse its public relations. For a decade illegal immigration was oversold as an arrival of “dreamers,” various future brain surgeons and physicists whose innate talent could now be tapped if only the U.S. would wave the cruel legal details. But illegal aliens are not all dreamers any more than they are all criminals. They are what they are — good, bad, and neither: poor oppressed people who flee racist Third World governments in hopes of jobs and/or U.S. government support, with the further assumption that their illegality, lack of English, absence of education, and dearth of skills and capital will not only not matter, but earn them coveted victim status in the U.S. So far they have been proven prescient.

It is still common to find at immigration rallies thousands of Mexican flags, with far fewer — if any — American flags. Illegal aliens do not just root for visiting Mexican sports teams, but go the extra mile of booing the American opposition.

The message is incoherent: “I will salute the country that drove me out but less so the one that welcomed me in.” In fact, the entire narrative of illegal immigration has become unhinged. The vocabulary of protest is never aimed against the nation that forced them out, only against the one that most generously welcomed them in.

Nowhere is this disconnect more evident than in the university, where two antitheses are promulgated. Even as the various Chicano and Ethnic Studies departments indoctrinate students with the supposedly sinister history of the United States, they simultaneously champion the rights of the illegal aliens to enter, reside, and stay in the odious country they have just damned. The message makes little sense. Millions of Americans have finally caught on to the incoherence, and feel that ingratitude is among the worst of all sins.

It is alleged that Donald Trump is a demagogue who whips the ignorant up. Perhaps. But on matters of immigration he came late and often in antithesis to his own former positions. The truth is that the illegal-immigration lobby was its own worst enemy, its message couched in racism, illegality, untruth — and finally incoherence.  People tired of being called racists by racial chauvinists, of being dubbed insensitive by unfeeling opportunists, and of being called politically naive by political manipulators.

If there were not a Donald Trump, he would likely have had to have been invented.


Article printed from Works and Days: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

42 Thoughts on “How Illegal Immigration Finally Turned Off the Public

  1. It certainly seems to me that you have this “illegal alien” issue covered in all its duplicities and outrageous over-reachings by the very self-serving groups that profess to defend them—Democrats, radical Latino hate mongers, Islamic headhunters, etc.

    Well done.

  2. Pingback: How Illegal Immigration Finally Turned Off the Public | Newport Mesa Tea Party Patriots

  3. Donald Trump –representing the “silent majority” has awakened the sleeping giant.. The socialist democrats have gone too far with their denigration of the taxpaying Americans who support the political class and also the parasitic class. We are a country of laws or we are lawless. Is it not a travesty to take tax dollars from the working Americans to gift to lawbreakers and outright criminals who are here to gain freebies and citizenship for any children they birth here just so the democrats can keep power for the next 200 years? The silent majority has had their noses rubbed i n it long enough–we are tired of the forced political correctness which to me is only the beginning of the end of the first amendment of the constitution. This behavior is only the beginning of Marxist ideology becoming the favored political party. and the democrats are leading the way into Marxism.

  4. Dr. Byron Roth in his 2010 book “The Perils of Diversity: Immigration and Human Nature” points out that “multiculturism” denies historical and scientific evidence that people differ in important biological and cultural ways that makes their assimilation into host countries problematic. It is also extreme in the viciousness with which it attacks those who differ on this issue. These attacks are accompanied by a very generalized and one-sided denigration of Western traditions and Western accomplishments, and claims that a collective guilt should be assumed by all Europeans (whites) for the sins of their forebears.

    J. Philippe Rushton’s Genetic Similarity Theory (GST) is a biological/ genetic theory aimed at explaining positive assortment on a variety of traits in friendships, marriage, and alliance formation. Friends, spouses, and the other people we make alliances with are more like us than people selected at random. At the psychological level, the same mechanisms that influence these choices may well also be involved in positive attitudes toward people in the same ethnic group.
    People not only assort positively for a wide variety of traits, they do so most on traits that are more heritable — that is, the traits that have a relatively strong genetic influence. This means that when you select a genetically similar spouse, your children are more similar to you than they would be if you had chosen your spouse at random. Moreover, identical twins have more similar spouses and friends than do fraternal twins. Genetic differences therefore influence the tendency to assort with similar others. In other words, some of us are more attracted to genetically similar spouses and friends than others, and this tendency is influenced genetically.

  5. Proudly Unaffiliated on August 31, 2015 at 8:08 am said:

    At this point, any pol who attempts to lobby the American people on why amnesty should be done or why enforcement means should not be done, will be thrown on the ash heap of history. We can thank Trump for making sure the issue of illegal invasion was not swept under the carpet this election cycle.

  6. A particular cause or philosophy is usually brought about by single individuals not simply “evolved” out of necessity. Examples, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Marx, James Madison, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King. Although obviously many agree with his stance on issues, considering the present PC narrative of today, it is unlikely, I believe, that “another Trump” would have appeared/ invented on the political scene.

  7. Steve Knight on August 31, 2015 at 9:38 am said:

    Mr. Hansen: Wonderful article. I’m a tree-hugging liberal who, like many Americans, believe in the rule of law. My only complaint with your piece is that you kept spelling “waive” wave.
    Steve

  8. Theseus9 on August 31, 2015 at 9:47 am said:

    Good article Mr. Hansen. Spot on with everything, vote Trump 2016!

  9. Jeff Stanley on August 31, 2015 at 10:18 am said:

    Ironically, the same executive power that Obama wields to encourage the invasion of illegals by not enforcing the law, Trump will be able to wield in the opposite direction. All he has to do to make good on his campaign promises is enforce the existing laws, no action by Congress needed. Freeing the members of that body to get busy doing what they do best: whining into microphones and sitting on their hands.

  10. Roy Digliani on August 31, 2015 at 10:23 am said:

    “Then the myth arose that criminality among illegal aliens was in fact lower that found in the general population”
    Why do I rarely see it argued that no matter what the percentage of felony crimes committed by illegals vs. those committed by legal citizens the fact is that if the illegals were not here those crimes would not have been committed at all?
    (Aside from the fact that 100% of illegals have committed a crime by being here)
    Isn’t the lower percentage canard a false equivalence type argument?

    • Let’s look at a few numbers. You haven’t seen them in the New York Times, Atlanta Constitution, or the LA Times.

      •Between 2008 and 2014, 40% of all murder convictions in Florida were criminal aliens. In New York it was 34% and Arizona 17.8%.
      •During those years, criminal aliens accounted for 38% of all murder convictions in the five states of California, Texas, Arizona, Florida and New York, while illegal aliens constitute only 5.6% of the total population in those states.
      •That 38% represents 7,085 murders out of the total of 18,643.
      That 5.6% figure for the average illegal alien population in those five states comes from US Census estimates. We know the real number is double that official estimate. Yet, even if it is 11%, it is still shameful that the percentage of murders by criminal aliens is more than triple the illegal population in those states.

      Those astounding numbers were compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) using official Department of Justice data on criminal aliens in the nation’s correctional system.

    • zygote314 on September 1, 2015 at 8:24 am said:

      Well said, Roy.

  11. Whenever I hear about the potential of the “dreamers”, I can’t help but wonder about the lost potential of the aborted.

    • Roy Digliani on September 1, 2015 at 10:36 am said:

      Do you wonder how much money was spent by the left on Madison Avenue to come up with the whole “Dreamers” concept?
      They’re not “Dreamers”.
      They’re “Jumpers” , plain and simple.
      Fence jumpers, immigration line jumpers and border jumpers.
      Regards,Roy

  12. Imagine if “Progressive-Retardnation” education was defunded in the US! Then, even immigrants, over time would be taught “Tragic-Liberty” worldview education, if this was funded in its place!

    This would be an end run around the Democrat plan to overcome Abraham Lincoln’s maxim that you can’t fool all the people all the time, since Democrats flood the vote with new-dumb-rubes who can be fooled.

    Of course, the present day illegal immigrants, if taught “Tragic-Liberty” pedagogy instead of “Progressive-Retardnation” would eventually NOT vote the rube-fool way, and over time would learn Abe’s maxim, and indeed the Democrats COULDN’T fool all the people all the time (or the majority.)

    However, the Democrats keep flooding the US with new immigrants who are rubistic and easily penned and sheared and mentally raped. (Actually, it is damning evidence that “Progtardism” is warp-speed-idiocracy.

    The end run around all of this is to defund “Progressive-Retardnation” education. This fixes everything!

  13. Kevin Collins on August 31, 2015 at 12:25 pm said:

    Wow. Thank you, Professor Hanson.

    I wonder if Jorge Ramos will be reading it.

  14. John Lewis on August 31, 2015 at 8:38 pm said:

    The responses to Donald Trump show how thoroughly corrupt the body politic has become. Objectively, he is a political amateur, prepared to spend largely from his own funds, to achieve high office. He cannot expect wealth from that office commensurate with the costs of attaining it. In that he differs from the professional politicians, who seem mostly activated by monetary greed. After all, to any decent person, high office is an onerous burden; to which the present-day professionals seem oblivious.

    How fortunate you Americans are, that you still have men patriotic enough to enter into the muck and degradation of political contest.

    Donald Trump has been castigated for speaking his mind. That perhaps 200 million people think the same way, and will say more or less the same thing if they dare to speak at all, is somehow to be ignored. That the truth, when spoken, has a radical impact, is to be celebrated.

  15. “It is alleged that Donald Trump is a demagogue who whips the ignorant up. Perhaps.”

    From a much prior period. “One, two, three Vietnam. Many Vietnam.” – – Che.

    One, two, three Donald. Many Donald.

  16. “Even as the various Chicano and Ethnic Studies departments indoctrinate students with the supposedly sinister history of the United States, they simultaneously champion the rights of the illegal aliens to enter, reside, and stay in the odious country they have just damned.”

    Communists!! Plain, pure and simple.

  17. “It is still common to find at immigration rallies thousands of Mexican flags, with far fewer — if any — American flags. Illegal aliens do not just root for visiting Mexican sports teams, but go the extra mile of booing the American opposition.”

    Those persons flying the Mexican flag WERE SPECIFICALLY TOLD NOT TO DO SO! But they did anyhow.

    The behavior of the Mexican fans during a soccer match with the American team [and in the U.S. too] not only rude and ignorant but downright criminal. A very bad bunch.

  18. “Mexico itself has become quite unpopular . . . It is not just the daily news of cartels, beheadings, and corruption that made Mexico unattractive”

    I have stood at the Rio Grande and looked southward and said to myself: “don’t ever go there”. And will not.

  19. Lu An Li. on September 1, 2015 at 10:10 am said:

    “around 20,000 illegal aliens from south of the border were routinely incarcerated in California prisons alone. Completely lost in the back and forth was the old notion that an immigrant, legal or illegal, was supposed to be a guest, whose behavior should be the model, rather than defended as no worse than those whom he joined”

    And that number of American citizens killed by illegals EVERY DAY in this country about a half dozen to a dozen from drunk driving accidents alone.

  20. “The public knows that La Raza means ‘The Race,”’and that those who founded that organization chose that racially charged noun for the precise purpose of ethnic triumphalism — in the way that every infamous 20th-century Latinate racist demagogue from Mussolini to Franco found a use for Raza/Razza, a mostly taboo term in Mediterranean Europe today”

    Most specifically the Cosmic Race. The Perfect Human.

  21. Herb Clark on September 1, 2015 at 1:02 pm said:

    I hope you are not preaching to only “the choir”. As if a single, liberal democrat politician would recognize the logic of your missive.

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  26. George Fuller on September 2, 2015 at 12:18 pm said:

    Mr. Hanson:
    Well said……perhaps American citizens are ready to end the invasion allowed by the govt made up of republicans and democrats…….

    I read Mexifornia years ago and it was excellent as well….

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  28. Denver Mike on September 2, 2015 at 2:02 pm said:

    Victor Davis Hanson is right on! Three simple fixes to our problems could be the answer; 1) Remove ALL party affiliation next to the names appearing on all voting ballots; 2) Expand the existing Expedited Removal enforcement of our existing Immigration Laws which apply to those making entry at our borders to include ALL undocumented aliens found anywhere in the U.S.; 3) Enforce and fully fund the existing Immigration laws on the books (IRAIRA circa 1996) to include SAVE, disallowing all those who apply for ALL government entitlement programs determined to be undocumented. Is this comprehensive enough for those interested in “Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

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  31. Hank Goede on September 3, 2015 at 3:47 pm said:

    Great insight, Mr. Hanson. While you say that those advocating La Raza ideas have come finally to a place of incoherence, I do think Mr. Trump was instrumental in bringing these issues like the open border, anchor babies, sanctuary cities, etc., out into the open, so people can see: “hey, there are other people who think just as I do”.

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  37. Law abiding, voting, working Americans are tired of being pushed around by illegal immigrants and their fans who do not understand or believe in the rule of law, nor know of the immigration laws of Mexico and other coutries. All the while these fans and the media sit in their ivory towers and never experience the fall out from the immigrants or their crimes. It is time to clean house.

  38. The racial/gender hatred being taught in the university today is pure Bolshevism. And if these people ever get power (which it seems they will) I see no reason to believe the outcome will be any different.

    We should fear today’s university, it is the breeding ground of tomorrows revolutionary murderers.

    As a recovering agnostic I have only the wisdom of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to view our current slide into racial hatred by:

    “More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.
    Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

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