Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Voting ‘no’ on Obama’s immigration policies

by Victor Davis Hanson // TSM

Immigration reform activists in Washington, D.C., July 7, 2014. (Win McNamee/Getty)

Immigration reform activists in Washington, D.C., July 7, 2014. (Win McNamee/Getty)

Everyone finds a lesson in the Republican midterm tsunami.

One message was that so-called comprehensive immigration reform and broad amnesty have little national public support. Polls have long shown that, but so do last week’s election results.

Candidates in swing states who promised amnesties got no edge from such opportunistic posturing.

Candidates who pandered to identity groups and played the ethnic card lost in most cases.

Voters in liberal Oregon overwhelmingly rejected driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

In reaction, President Obama sulked, threatening to quickly push through an unpopular amnesty by executive order. Obama apparently knows that he enjoys neither public nor congressional support for his planned executive fiat.

In an increasingly multiracial society, voters — including many Mexican Americans — see mostly illogic, hypocrisy and chaos in the present relaxed immigration policy of the partisan-minded Obama administration. They grow weary of identity politics that privilege some immigrant groups over others based on no definable, much less consistent, logic.

Voters assume that liberal-elite advocates of open borders who mock finishing the border fence count on the fences around their own estates — whether Hollywood grandees, the former mayor of Los Angeles or the president of the United States.

They understand that quick assimilation and melting-pot integration — made possible only by measured, diverse and legal immigration — are not the goals of either ethnic lobbyists orDemocratic Party activists.

Were immigrants from Mexico or Central America soon to vote in unpredictable patterns, the political effort to wink at illegal immigration across the southern border would abruptly stop.

Midterm voters apparently understood that “comprehensive immigration reform” has devolved into something like comprehensive health care reform — a euphemism for Obama’s larger efforts at fundamentally transforming America.

For all the reformist rhetoric about merit-based and ethnically blind legal immigration, there is no evidence yet that the La Raza elite or the Democratic Party prefer race and ethnicity to be irrelevant in adjudicating immigration procedures.

It’s hard to find supporters of immigration reform who argue that the Kenyan, South Korean, Czech or Jamaican applicant for entry into the U.S. should be treated equally on the basis of skill sets, education or prior background — rather than as a future identity-politics voter.

Most Americans are in favor of granting green cards to foreign nationals who have been here for years as long as they pay a fine, are not on public assistance and have no record of criminal activity, and as long as the border remains closed. The majority of the millions residing here illegally might well qualify for eventual legal residence, and would appreciate recognition that they are working, not on state assistance, and have abided by the laws during their long stay in the U.S.

But will reform advocates say whether they would favor deporting those who just arrived in the cynical expectation of amnesty? Will they deport to their countries of origin those who sought public assistance instead of work in the U.S., or those who abused their guest status by committing crimes in their host country? So far, advocates of reform stay mostly mum on those topics. The result is that “comprehensive immigration reform” remains a mushy catchphrase that can mean anything and therefore means nothing.

At a time when ethnic, religious and tribal groups are killing each other across the globe, why are concepts of hyphenation, identity politics or mandatory bilingualism in official documents preferable to the exceptional American idea of a melting pot, a common culture and a shared national language?

Voters last week seemed to be saying that the entire immigration debate is morally upside down.

The true unethical position is that of the immigration hijacker who decides — without the force of law, public opinion or court sanction — to enhance his narrow political, cultural or economic interests. He cares little about the ensuing effects of his self-interest on collective infrastructure, social services, law enforcement, criminal justice or state budgets.

So what, exactly, do Americans want out of immigration?

It would seem that Americans appreciate the vibrancy, energy and new ideas that immigrants bring. But a great many Americans also insist that immigrants come legally, in manageable numbers, in ethnically diverse fashion, eager to learn English and assimilate quickly.

If advocates of comprehensive immigration reform are going to win Americans over to their side, they are going to have to find a new approach to the debate that they have now lost.

For now, the position remains the current one of ethnic-privileging one group over another.

The selfish position is the current one of burdening the host society by accommodating the language of the guest.

The surreal position is that of ingratitude of guests toward generous host country by demanding that its laws either be ignored or changed to fit their own particular agendas and preferences.

On matters of immigration, open-borders advocates have become reactionaries.

Last week’s midterm results proved it.

(C) 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

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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.

7 Thoughts on “Voting ‘no’ on Obama’s immigration policies

  1. immigration reform is nothing more than redistribution of already overburdened taxpayers tax dollars to support a parasitic class, who has no intention of assimilation, learning English, abiding by our laws, paying taxes, or allegiance to our flag. indeed they want anchor babies, wic, full medical, dental, food stamps, obamaphones, welfare checks and free housing and education in their native tongue. let the deportations begin. let the supreme court interpret the intent of the 14th amendment to our constitution .it was meant to confer full citizenship to former slaves and their children after the end of the civil war.and not to the progeny of criminals …. . during the war on poverty in the 1970’s, l iberals decided to confer full citizenship to these children whose parents are lawbreaking illegal aliens. the usa is fast becoming a third world cesspool.

  2. Contrast bending over backwards for illegals with this out from the new york times– ” Army cuts hit officers…” Hope the National Review keeps hitting the national safety issue hard for the next two years, United States safety is World safety. Send an open letter to John McCain. Thank-you Mr. Hanson.

  3. someone please explain the short and long term reasoning behind the democrats stand on illegal immigration from mexico. is it only the votes they are after???????

  4. stephan morrow on November 17, 2014 at 7:37 am said:

    I think this is a cold sober look at the reality of what’s going on. Very well expressed.

  5. Les Davaz on November 19, 2014 at 10:29 am said:

    My grandfather came to the US in 1913 and died in 1950, a subject of the Czar. His wife, my maternal grandmother, arrived at roughly the same time and became a US citizen in 1973. They both were legal immigrants who followed the rules, including in her case, a mastery of English that she never quite achieved. Notably, their parents didn’t awake in Minsk or Prague one day and say they were going to become Americans, and that was that. I resent the hell out of these millions of people in this country that have done just that, and I hardly think they should be rewarded with citizenship, EVER. Part of the other side’s argument is to confuse the latter with legal immigrants. That is the problem. The ONLY aspect of our immigration policy that begs reform is the vigorous security of our border with Mexico, period.

  6. Charles Gonzalez on November 20, 2014 at 6:42 pm said:

    I am a great fan of Professor Hanon’s books on our Greek and Roman ancestors, and his energetic and passionate critique of the decline in classics education in this country….the several volumes of his works that I have in my library are valued components of my own private effort to reverse that tide….however, he, like so many, have little or no understanding of the immigration issue in this country……his comments here are mainly focused on immigration advocates, many of whom I agree, take extreme positions…on the other hand any suggestion of self deportation, or actual mass deportation, erection of a thousand mile fences and the creation of a border army are not the solutions of a powerful superpower on par with the Professor’s beloved Athens…..the reality is that America has depended on and attracted workers from around the world for 150 years, and especially from Mexico and parts south for many decades…I am all in favor of deportation of criminals of any kind, what I and millions of other Americans of Latino heritage will not accept is segregation of honest, family oriented, hard working people to a life in the perpetual shadows of American life….by the way, when are we going to invest billions protecting ourselves from terrorists streaming in from the Canadian wilds?

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