Absurd—and Not-so-Absurd—Immigration

Trump’s plan of mass deportations en masse is unworkable, but that’s not an argument against weeding out criminals and those without work histories in the U.S.

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media

Photo via NRO
Photo via NRO

In the discussion of Donald Trump’s agenda for dealing with illegal immigration, lots of his proposals are said to be absurd. But are they all?

Mass Deportations?

Targeted deportations are not the same as mass deportations. Trump may want all of the latter, but just as absurdly the Democratic Party seems not to want any of the former.

We don’t know how many illegal immigrants are in the United States, only that the proverbial figure of “11 million” exists in amber since the last century, and despite massive influxes each year. So there is no way to ascertain either the size of the pool of illegal immigrants or how many have committed crimes. Rounding up every illegal alien and immediately deporting them is not feasible, but that does not mean that over one million with criminal records could not be returned to their home countries as undesirables.

Even liberal sources suggest that somewhere between 12% to 15% of that figure are likely criminals or have arrest records. Some states report a fourth to a third of their murders are likely committed by illegal aliens. That cohort makes up over 25% of federal prisoners.

In other words, the number of what Trump in politically incorrect fashion called “good people” (e.g., does he mean those without a criminal record other than entering the U.S. illegally?) is likely quite large, in both absolute numbers, and percentage wise.

The number of Trump’s supposedly “bad people” (convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor?), who as guests abused the hospitality of their host, could be small percentage-wise. Yet the number might still be well over one million in need of immediate and lasting deportation.

Would deportations of the more than one million (if one deported only criminals, and not as well those without work records and chronically on public assistance), as alleged, begin with a storm of jack-booted cops breaking down the doors of innocent barrio residences?


Every day, thousands of illegal aliens file false federal affidavits, use phony Social Security numbers, employ fake IDs, are pulled over for DUIs, and shoot and steal — the very violations of the laws that sanctuary cities sought to nullify.  The crimes are apparently numerous enough occurrences to win the attention of sanctuary cities, which would not exist if illegal aliens were all, as implied, “dreamers.”

In sum, government agencies would need only to follow passive enforcement of the law, and allow illegal aliens to come into contact with legal authorities of various sorts rather that conduct deportation raids. ICE, then, would need only to deport those who had criminal holds on them — as they insidiously came into contact with the criminal justice system. The number and frequency of those encounters could be quite substantial each day and cumulatively so by year’s end.

Make Mexico Pay?

Sending Mexico a bill, or charging tariffs on trade, to finish the wall as penance for its cynical manipulation of American magnanimity is childish and unnecessary. Instead, we should look at some  $40-50 billion that are sent as remittances home to Central America and Mexico each year, largely by illegal aliens themselves. Such a staggering sum might represent on average a $200-500 a month expense per illegal alien, a disposable sum that at best suggests existential poverty may not necessarily haunt every illegal alien resident, and at worse might remind us that government subsidies are sometimes used to free up income to send out of the country. Imagine if $40-50 billion were instead infused into the U.S. health care and legal systems for the indigent.

All the government would have to do, in the manner that most nations abroad already do, would be to impose a federal surcharge on all remittances by any sender who could not provide a U.S. passport to substantiate the transaction. At a 10% rate, billions could be raised ($4-5 billion a year?), and applied to the completion of the border fence. Within  four or five years, the cost ($20 billion?) could be easily met by those whose illegality prompted the wall to be built.


Trump uses imprecise, occasionally offensive, and self-contradictory vocabulary, but he is certainly not a nativist in the sense that many Latino illegal immigration activists are. So far he has not shrugged off the death of Kate Steinle as a “little thing” [1] as did Representative Gutierrez — to silence from the media. He is not calling for federal law to be suspended for 11 million Scots and Irish who have fled to the U.S., entered the country illegally, and resonated ethnic affinity with him. Adherence to the law is the classically liberal position, because it is ethnically blind and judges legal applicants as qualified or not according to non-racial criteria. It is precisely the La Raza movement that has injected race into the immigration equation, and illiberally demanded that one particular group — Latinos from Central America and Mexico alone by virtue both of ethnic affinity and potential political advantages in the future — be exempt from federal laws in a way others from Korea, Africa, and Europe are not.

Anchor Babies?

The citizenship language of the 14th Amendment — “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside” — is currently interpreted by courts as extending automatic citizenship to those born on U.S. soil to foreign nationals residing illegally on U.S. soil. But, as a number of legal scholars have argued, such an interpretation may not have been the intent of the original drafters of the amendment or even subsequent court decisions — and could be clarified to that effect by congressional legislation.

Are foreign nationals, illegally residing in the U.S, really subject to the “jurisdiction thereof” of the United States, or are they still subject, in terms of allegiance and law, to a foreign country in which, unlike America, they enjoy full legal status and jurisdiction such as voting, government employment, and political activity? And are sanctuary cities proof of that fact — by declaring that federal immigration law has no applicability or jurisdiction to foreign nationals residing in the U.S. illegally? Liberals are fond of pointing to foreign jurisprudence — European especially — to chide American legal backwardness. But is the anchor-baby tenet true of postmodern EU nations? In fact, is there any European socialist democracy that has adopted an anchor-baby policy?

In a practical sense, anyone who lives in an area with a large population of illegal aliens knows that it is a common tact for pregnant foreign nationals to deliberately plan on giving birth in the U.S., both to ensure citizenship for their children, and to create a proverbial anchor, by which they can either obtain legal residency for themselves or cite familial humanitarian claims later on if deportation suddenly looms. Is that not a means of circumventing and subverting the law by avoiding an application for legal green-card resident status? If “anchor baby” is a pejorative term, what then is the politically correct expression for that real fact?


The open-borders movement has tried to discredit the use of anchor baby without offering any other adjective/noun that denotes this reality. I suggest the inexact “maternity immigration” to include the role of both the mother and baby, recognizing it lacks the specificity of “anchor.” There still is not a proper adjective/noun replacement for “illegal alien.” “Undocumented immigrant” suggests illegal aliens lost or failed to get the proper documents — when that was precisely never the attention. What does the prefix “un” really mean? That someone left his documents at the border, wandered into Los Angeles, and, presto, discovered his absent-mindedness, and so became an un-documented person?

Breaking federal law is not a neutral matter of being without documents, but simply deliberately choosing never to obtain them at all. Alien (“not of this locale”) is not a pejorative term, but recognizes that Mexico and the United States are two different legal entities. Oddly, whatis an offensive noun is La Raza (“the race”), racial chauvinism at its worse. Raza has a terrible history of modern usage in fascist Franco’s Spain and Mussolini’s Italy, and has disappeared from popular accepted usage in both countries. Raza was brought back into contemporary American parlance by racial separatists, particularly in the 1960s. Mrs. Clinton just spoke at the National Council of La Raza, and yet has been vocal about accusing others of polarizing the debate through charged language. That is absurd.

The Absurd?

Elites have branded Trump’s immigration proposals as absurd, especially the inflated rhetoric about a wall, and good and bad people. His idea of mass deportations en masse is unworkable, but not an argument against weeding out criminals and those without work histories in the United States.

What is absurd?

Absurdity is ceding vast swaths along the southern border as a sanctuary area where federal law does not apply. Or allowing 10% of Mexico’s population to enter illegally, to reside illegally, and to redefine the very nomenclature of illegal alien — making demands on the host about its own laws, languages, and protocols. Sanctuary cities are absurd neo-Confederate ideas and harken back to the 1850s. Raza is a good Balkan word, the sort of racially charged buzz noun that leads logically to a Bosnia or Kosovo.

The debate over illegal immigration has radically changed in direct proportion to the growth of the illegal resident population to well over 11 million people. Jeb Bush implied that elements of illegal immigration are an act of love. Perhaps that is true for millions of illegal aliens, who work hard and for little pay, and usually do not violate further state and federal laws. I see them every day.

But not all foreign nationals from Mexico and Central America do that.

One would accept Bush’s blanket generalization only if he had the clout or capital to be exempt from the ramifications of his own ideology. When a car zoomed into the barnyard last night and tossed out a brood of puppies (twice now in one month), and when last week a man threw wet garbage from his pickup next to my mailbox (full of Spanish language magazines, diapers, and used baby clothes), and when last month someone stole my pickup (found by police abandoned and damaged in a Fresno alleyway, with Mexican beer, food, and Spanish-language ads inside), and when two weeks ago a non-English speaker came in the driveway looking for trailers of prostitution (caravanas) down the road, I felt that they all had expressed little love for animals, the environment, or young women, or for that matter themselves — or me.

In other words, I sensed no act of love.

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

URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/absurd-and-not-so-absurd-immigration/

URLs in this post:

[1] a “little thing”: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/latino/yuri-perez/2015/07/16/rep-luis-guti%C3%A9rrez-calls-murder-kate-steinle-little-thing


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13 thoughts on “Absurd—and Not-so-Absurd—Immigration”

  1. I’m a bit conflicted by this piece you have written, Dr. Hanson! What is your point? You certainly see the problems and dangers of illegals in this country, point out the deficiencies of others’ plans to remedy the problem and, yet, you don’t offer a solution to this problem!
    I get it that you don’t like Donald Trump! However, he is the only one who will stand up for this country and what he believes! He sees the danger of this problem, and has offered the only solution that makes sense!
    Let’s be clear, Mr. Trump has not said he will use the military or force to rid the country of these illegals! He would have them self-deport by enforcing E-Verify and cutting all public assistance. I believe this plan along with beefing up security (including the military) at the border will drastically cut the numbers of illegals here!
    I look at other candidates seeking the Republican nomination and they are either wimps or beholden to special interests! In other words, the same old BS!
    I believe it is time for this country to get tough or we will be history, very soon!

  2. Lawrence of Arabia.

    That wall between Mexico and the U.S. can be built too. India recently completed a 4,000 kilometer double fence between itself and Bangladesh. Twelve foot high double fence with razor wire in the gap between. Also assiduously patrolled by squads of para-military personnel with assault rifles. 4,000 Kilometers is 2,500 miles and longer than that border between the U.S. and Mexico.

    1. According to the news this morning, Hungary is building a wall. Has anyone bothered to read Mexico’s immigration laws? Very eye opening.

  3. George Ramos won a whole lot of votes for Trump. That pushy and will-not-let-you-speak is typical sort of behavior that the Spanish speaker engages in AND SEEMED TO ONLY PROVE THAT TRUMP IS ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY.

  4. It seems to me that if we finally follow the immigration laws we already have, that would go a long way to solving the immigration problem. If employers were really not allowed to hire illegals and the illegals could not find jobs, and if they could not go on welfare, and if we did not provide health care, education, etc., etc., don’t you think that an awful lot of them would just go back to where they came from? It has been estimated that we currently have 30 million illegals in the country and that an anchor baby is born every 93 seconds. We hardly have a country any more – and that is insane. We do not want the entire country to become the hellhole that California is becoming.

  5. That was an illuminating essay. Thank you Dr. Hanson for providing such excellent insight to the chronic, massive problem of illegal immigration. I fully empathize with your frustration and, perhaps, fear over the way illegals are abusing your property. Stealing your pickup, dumping trash by your mailbox and puppies in your barn, and strangers looking for mobile brothels sounds utterly intolerable and outrageous to me. You must feel under siege. I hope you’re careful though, as who knows what these desperate “dreamers” are capable of. Maybe if the Bush family was experiencing similar problems at their compound in Kennebunkport, Jeb might have a clue as to what is really going on?

    We must effectively address this problem and restore the rule of law. If we don’t, then we are quite simply doomed to further chaos and a Balkanization of our society. It won’t, however, be easy. Any attempt to change the status quo will be met with fierce resistance from ethnic chauvinist groups like La Raza and cheap hustlers like Louis Gutierrez who will have the full backing of the Mainstream Media and the Democratic party. In order to minimize the slings and arrows that will inevitably follow – ie: charges of racism and nativism, and accusations of cruelty – we will need to play it smart. Elian Gonzalez type raids may be legal and warranted, but the optics are terrible. I would suggest (1) consulting Israel on how to build an effective border fence and immediately start building it; (2) swift prosecution of local and state officials who violate Federal immigration law, and the immediate withdraw of funds to ‘sanctuary’ cities; (3) strictly enforcing E-Verify and increasing penalties for employers who knowingly hire cheap illegal labor. This would stop rewarding unscrupulous businesses who cheat and undercut legitimate ones and dry up the money spigot that is sucking cash out of our communities and creating the incentive for illegal immigrants to break our laws; (4) starting a DNA database of all illegals who are caught by ICE and make it available to all State and local law enforcement. If violators are caught a second time it should mean a mandatory 5 year prison sentence and the bill for their incarceration should be taken out of a tax on remittances.

    Nothing I’ve suggested is a panacea for our complex illegal immigration problem. Race, culture, politics and powerful, well funded (racist) groups like La Raza are all entwined in the debate. But Dr. Hanson and millions like him are entitled to the peace and security of the rule of law; Kate Steinle and thousands like her were entitled to the peace and security of the rule of law; and America’s future depends on the restoration of the rule of law.

  6. Excellent article that puts much concerning the politically correct nomenclature surrounding the immigration problem and Jeb Bush’s “act of love” portrayal in much needed perspective. It also gives the practical side of what and how the criminal illegals can be deported and how Mexico can be made to pay for the wall as Trump has asserted. The beginnings of an implementation plan to accomplish some much needed reform.

  7. Dear Dr. Hanson,

    Who are you working for now? Your arguments seem unduly wordy and seem to reflect a loss of proportion.
    Donald Trump is just trumpeting in the preliminaries of the politics game and he is winning. You seem as out of touch as the typical Rhino we have come to dismiss as ineffectual windbags. Disappointed here in what I’ve usually seen as astute commentary now posing as apologist for the DC crowd and their cronies.

    1. Come on Helen, do you really think Dr. Hanson is shilling for Jeb Bush? He gave plenty of anecdotal evidence of how illegal immigration has affected him personally and has explained in clear language why it is imperative that we enforce the rule of law. Consider this quote:

      “Absurdity is ceding vast swaths along the southern border as a sanctuary area where federal law does not apply. Or allowing 10% of Mexico’s population to enter illegally, to reside illegally and to redefine the very nomenclature of illegal alien – making demands on the host about its own laws, languages, and protocols. Sanctuary cities are absurd neo-Confederate ideas and harken back to the 1850s. Raza is a Balkan word, the sort of racially charged buzz noun that leads logically to a Bosnia or a Kosovo.”

      Hardly sounds like a Rino, does he? Maybe if Donald Trump could speak with the same erudite concision I might consider supporting him.

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  9. Charles Gonzalez

    I think the Professor has it about right from a realistic view for once. I would like to get a better grip on the actual # of felon illegals here, as the range is large. I have always felt the following; 1) whether 10, 11, 12 or 15 million in this country illegally, mass deportation along the lines of India/Pakistan 1947 was not going to happen here, and 2) illegal immigrants who abuse the privilege of living here forfeit any right to stay. So how, given the old saying about 20 foot fences creating demand for 24 foot ladders, do you address the issue . Simple I say; though my friends in the human rights/politically correct/fantasy driven community will object. Each illegal immigrant, whether Mexican , Polish or Irish(and there are many of those), once they are convicted of a felony they are implanted with a GPS chip, location unknown , so that once they are in their country of origin, any effort to return to the US illegally will be noticed immediately . Once notified, Border Patrol sends one of its thousand killer drones to track them at the border and woof, they’re gone, as fast and clean as any Taliban fighter in the mountains of Afghanistan. Absurd you say? Abuse of human rights? Immoral? Nope, just an appropriate response to a cancer that infects and impacts the proud, hard working Latino community in theUS who just work hard, support their families and, other than coming here, obey the law. So, the rights of the many outweigh the rights of the few pendejos who abrogate whatever rights they may have from a civilized society.

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