Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Still Blind to the Costs of Illegal Immigration

What really explains Trump’s rapid climb to the top of the polls.

by Bruce S. Thornton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FPM

Photo via FPM

Donald Trump’s blunt and clumsy comments about illegal immigration sparked the usual firestorm of criticism from the well heeled of both parties. Particularly vocal were those Republicans who think that an amorphous, make-believe category comprising “Hispanics” or “Latinos” will vote Republican if only Republican meanies like Trump would stop insulting them by complaining about illegal aliens. As usual, willful ignorance or blindness about the costs of illegal immigration underwrites these dubious ideas.

Trump’s comments about crimes committed by illegal aliens, for example, were attacked by the usual denial and obfuscation. Various statistics, some mixing illegal and legal immigrants, were touted as showing illegal criminal activity was proportionately less than that of the native-born. But as Brietbart reported, while illegal aliens are 3.5% of the population, based on federal sentencing data they represent 12% of murder convictions. Add state crime data, and according to an analysis at American Thinker illegals commit 10 times more murders than do citizens.

Murder obviously gets the most attention, especially after a five-time deported illegal alien felon in San Francisco gunned down Kate Steinle in broad daylight. Yet the champions of the “path to citizenship” typically ignore the less spectacular disorderly behavior of the sort rife in regions with large concentrations of illegal aliens like the San Joaquin Valley. Driving under the influence or while intoxicated, driving without insurance, perpetrating hit-and-run accidents, discarding garbage and trash along roads, disregarding laws and codes covering construction, animal control, restaurants, and sanitation, breaking into homes and cars, stealing copper wire from farm pumps––all these quality of life infractions have increased as more illegal aliens have settled in the Valley.

In other words, the “broken windows” theory of policing that many conservatives are criticizing New York mayor Bill di Blasio for attacking––the idea that cracking down on minor quality of life crimes creates a sense of enforced public order that deters more serious crimes––is nowhere to be found in many parts of the rural San Joaquin Valley. The social costs of this breakdown in civic order, of course, are born by those––law-abiding Americans of whatever ethnicity–– tied by tradition or necessity to these Valley towns. And the economic costs are paid by every state and federal taxpayer whose billions of dollars––$20 billion a year in some estimates–– fund the costs of unpaid emergency room visits, criminal prosecution and incarceration, highway mayhem, illegal welfare benefits, schools crowded with the English deficient, and fraudulent social security disability payments.

Nor is it true, as the race industry hacks claim, that such criticism merely reflects bigotry or racism against the oppressed brown “other.” The Mexican-American legal immigrants of the sort I grew up with in the 50s and 60s suffer today just as much from this influx of peoples from cultures with very different mores and attitudes towards law, relationships to legal authority, and civic obligations. Yes, America in the past took in many other ethnic groups and nationalities with similar differences that often caused social problems. But back then, immigrants were faced with a brutal trade-off: change your cultural habits, learn and obey American law, political principles, and social customs, and speak English. If not, go back home, or pay a price for your refusal. No one had a right to come to America and then demand that Americans adjust their culture and mores to those of the newcomer.

That old mechanism of assimilation has been broken. The triumph of multiculturalism and its evil twin “diversity” have taught many immigrants, legal and illegal alike, that they should not have to assimilate, that their culture is just as good or even superior to America’s, and that political and civic institutions must adapt to their culture and language. Organized lobbies like La Raza and LULAC institutionalize such separatism, demanding all the privileges and boons of living in a liberal democracy ruled by law, at the same time they counsel their clients to resist endorsing and practicing the very culture that underwrites their freedom. Rather than a privilege to be earned, American citizenship and its advantages are considered justified reparations for all the historical sins Americans have inflicted on their southern neighbors. Add a porous border with Mexico continually refreshing the old country’s culture with new arrivals, and the obstacles to transforming illegal immigrants into Americans make the “path to citizenship” rhetoric a pipe dream.

Of course, there are millions of illegal immigrants who don’t commit crimes other than the first one of crossing the border. They don’t illegally receive welfare benefits––though their children born here can and do. No doubt many would become good citizens, and want their children and grandchildren to become more American. The problem is that no one touting “comprehensive immigration reform” can lay out for us a specific program for sorting out the potential good Americans from the murderers, welfare cheats, and thugs. It’s so much easier politically just to confuse illegal with legal immigration, indulge Emma Lazarus “nation of immigrants” sentiments, and scold critics that they are keeping Republicans from winning millions of voters.

Trump’s rapid climb to the top of the polls, at least for now, reflects a widespread anger with establishment Republicans who refuse to tell the truth about the costs of illegal immigration. Trump’s fans are sick of their reasonable complaints being dismissed as the bigotry or stupidity of “crazies,” as John McCain called them, or as the bitter tantrums of the narrow-minded fearful of change. They are very much like the New Yorkers of the 70s, who finally had enough of bums, punks, criminals, hookers, welfare freeloaders, and all the other detritus that made New York the dystopia of Taxi Driver and Death Wish.

Those New Yorkers got Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a police force empowered to restore civic order by enforcing the law. Those today fed up with the costs of illegal immigration disorder and violence, or the virtual nullification of federal law wrought by “sanctuary cities,” get insulted and ignored by their own party. Is it any surprise that they are supporting a politician who, for all his political opportunism, takes their anger seriously and promises to do something about it?

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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.

20 Thoughts on “Still Blind to the Costs of Illegal Immigration

  1. RinconRidge on July 31, 2015 at 11:33 am said:

    Clear, concise synopsis – thank you for being a voice for reason.

  2. I agree with you entirely. Trump is riding the illegal immigration anger for all it’s worth and it’s working for him BIG TIME.

    Hopefully, when the Republican voters see him for the fraud, big mouth, blow hard that he is, the other candidates will pick this issue up and run with it as he has up to now, for it’s a BIG WINNER that crosses both parties.

    • Sibyl S on August 17, 2015 at 6:03 pm said:

      Obviously, many of us see the GOP elected to stop Obama and the Democrats as the frauds…complete utter frauds and traitors…who have disrespected this country and its citizens and enabled Obama’s obscene spending, lawlessness and ruinous social and economic policies.
      Get over it. Trump is far less a fraud than the Republican Party.

  3. dupere on July 31, 2015 at 2:32 pm said:

    “” Putin’s energy giant falls on hard times.”” From bloomberg. We live in interesting times

  4. dupere on July 31, 2015 at 3:47 pm said:

    “” Is Turkey on the path to restoring zero hedge.””” Stratfor’s take on Turkeys winds of change.

  5. dupere on July 31, 2015 at 6:07 pm said:

    “” Turkey shifts from Europe to Asia trend.”” From trend news agency. Intends to become full member of SCO. What will be Europe’s energy scenario in the next 5 years—a bankrupt and barely holding together European Union, with the new dawn that is taking shape in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the lifeblood-pipeline to ship Canada’s Oil………………..

  6. dupere on July 31, 2015 at 8:21 pm said:

    The puppet known as Vlad is having his strings pulled—-China-Turkey colluding as puppeteers? First recall China postponed one of the pipeline deals with Russia. Now Turkey is playing hardball, See—“” Ankara: time to say goodbye to Turkish stream.”” From trend news. Finally, the smoking-gun of the puppeteers playing footsie together—Google:”” China, Turkey can ensure sound development people’s daily.”” It’s time bring in the best America has to offer and dump “potato-diplomacy”. Enter Ivanka Trump, the Goddess named Ivanka can woo Putin away from the dark-side——- Bears to American honey.

  7. I even wonder if Trump takes the anger seriously or if its merely an opportunity to tap into a large, unsatisfied constituency? In the past he’s shown himself to be a weather vane on a multitude of issues. Call me a cynic, but for me this is what it has come to.

  8. Edgar. on August 1, 2015 at 7:51 am said:

    My calculations estimate about a half dozen to a dozen American citizens killed each day by illegal aliens.

    That for drunk driving alone. Drunk driving is not a crime in Mexico but rather an indication of macho.

    And this for years now too.

  9. Morris. on August 1, 2015 at 7:54 am said:

    Castenada the one time Mexican Foreign Minister said this current wave of immigration to the United States was going to be different from all other past immigrations.

    1. The absolute numbers were going to be just so much greater. 2. Mexicans have a historic grievance against the United States. 3. That common border allows for the immigrant to come and go back and forth as he pleases, retaining his culture and language and mores, for good or bad.

  10. WRFREE on August 1, 2015 at 9:09 am said:

    One day if we are not careful we will bend over backward so far that we will ask where and when did we take out the scalpel to dismember the principles of the United States as one nation contributed to by all in kind and not subject to the self serving ideas of piecemeal groups intent on using democratic principles to subvert the setup of that nation. I think a grave point to ponder for our democratic tradition.

  11. JohnnyBoy on August 1, 2015 at 3:45 pm said:

    YEAH!

  12. Trump is white and his comments are clumsy. Obama is an octaroon and his comments are parfectment. His press secretary is white and a pencildick and his comments are de rigueur. Trump’s comments were not clumsy unless you are an illegal, planning to be an illegal, or a sap. The truth shall/may set you free. Too many Americans and writers and talking heads are fools and should go to England and worship at the grave of Neville Chamberlain. “I believe it is peace in our time.” No to take any action, just bend over!!!!!!

  13. Walter Pazik on August 2, 2015 at 5:47 am said:

    You do not elaborate on one fact relative to past immigrants: The immigrants that made America great were from Europe, not Africa, not Kenya, not Mexico, not Central and South America, not Muslim countries, etc. America was of a European culture; demographically it is no no longer, so America is no longer. We have failed cultures, African and Central and South American aboriginal cultures, shaping this country and America can no longer be called America because America had a meaning that no longer exists. A cultural demographic change is a national change. Take the Jews out of Israel and it is no longer a Jewish state.

    • I’m from Argentina, I read this article, and your comment and turn sad because I thought USA were a nice place to live, but as far as I understand from here you are facing similar problems as we had (although there are some differences, of course, Argentina is an almost powerless country).

      Our country was also build from European migrants at the point of 96% of us being european descendants, mostly from mediterranean countries. That mass of people made Argentina a place with really good health and education, low crime, low unemployment, a welfare state.

      The latest ~20 years, under the siege of pseudo-progresist political leaders, we received massive illegal immigration from our neighbour countries, mainly the poorer ones: Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile. Most of that people settled in usurped lands or homes, or in “villas miseria” (extremely low condition places). And, despite there are much hard workers between them, also the crime rates are proportionally higher.

      Worse than that, as you are being sieged with the “diversity” flag, we are being sieged with the “latin-america brotherhood” flag. And with that flag our nation is being destroyed, our culture, our progress, all of that are being destroyed in order to level us down: we are in the way of becoming one of that other latin america countries (plagued with corruption, social inequality, extreme poverty, crime and disrespect for the law and for the human being) instead of go in the opposite direction of help that countries be like we were.

      We also have politic leaders than allow things like a man to rob multiple times not being jailed because some weird justification; if thieves go inside your home and suffer some injury you go jailed, they go to free health to be cured; if someone robs you, when you call the police, they say “we cannot do nothing”, because the pseudo-progresist pathetic judges always found a reason to give freedom; there are murderers with “domiciliary prison” (that is: the condemn is to not leave home); we got lot of weird things in name of progress. That helps to kill our nation even more.

      I don’t know, maybe in the future, my country will have a better nation that the one where I grew, the bad for me is to feel ever day more as an stranger in my own place.

      Pseudo-Progresist politic leaders take measures that looks good at start, but may have side effects.

      Sad to know you’re in the same way as us.

      (sorry my bad english)

      • Albert on August 19, 2015 at 5:03 pm said:

        Argentina’s problems go way beyond the last twenty years. For a people who pride themselves so much on being Italian descendants, their history in the 20th century has not veered much from the other Latin American countries: continuous political instability, coups, dictatorships, rampant inflation, socialism, human rights abuse and yes, crime and filth. Buenos Aires is the most squalid (dog feces all over the sidewalks, garbage all over the streets, graffiti over every surface) and most dangerous place I have ever lived. Wandering into the wrong block means a 100% probability of being robbed. There is simply nowhere in America like that and few places in even Latin America.

        The Bolivians and Paraguayans cannot be blamed for Argentina’s collapse. The country has been in relative decline for nearly a century.

        Still the country has its natural beauty and one wonders how things would have turned out if the British controlled not just the Falklands…

  14. Nailed it…….mostly. Respectfully, you have yet to explain why Trump is “clumsy” or bumbling in any of his remarks. Repeatedly classifying him as buffoonish, though subtly, while ignoring the idiocy of Jeb Bush (“I’m the first Cuban …….”) or Hillary Clinton (“I ain’t no ways tired”) seems disingenuous. Is he any more or less foolish in his statements than other candidates? I think not…….and at least he speaks foolishness off the cuff instead of pre-planned and carefully written foolishness.

  15. helencorrigan on August 2, 2015 at 7:33 pm said:

    Always a refreshing pleasure to read Dr. Hanson’s essay each week it is published. Keeps me optimistic in this garbage can of political aspirants and the news of yet another scandal and national embarrassment. Keep up the fabulous most important work of informing and inspiring your readers. We need this as we need air to breathe.

  16. When John McCain called his fellow Americans “crazies” he is only showing his contempt for his fellow Americans It reminds me when Maxine Waters said that she was not afraid of the Tea Party, in others words she is not afraid of the taxpayers (peasants all of them) but she is afraid of SEIU, the public sector unions, and LaRaza. John McCain never did anything to help his voters in Arizona, he never helped Jan Brewer and couldn’t care less if the people of Arizona are victims of crime caused by illegal immigrants. He seems to be pre occupied with Israel. He advocates Israel’s use of a fence and borders but could not care less about the United States.
    I was watching John Stossel who lectures us on the virture of immigrations he said that immigration raises the wages, then why is the government constantly raising the minimal wage.
    Out public universities are taking in foreign students because the foreign students paid full tuition, remember we have Americans who have paid taxes and deserve the opportunity to sen their children to a public universities. so when we accept a foreign student we are taking away from an American student

  17. dupere on August 3, 2015 at 6:38 pm said:

    “””” The complete breakdown of every Hillary and Bill Clinton speech.”” From zero hedge. $48 million for 186 speeches.

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