It's probably not true that a frog will allow itself to be boiled alive if only the heat is raised slowly enough, but it's an irresistible image nonetheless.
However, the anti-borders forces — on the left and the right — have counted on such passivity among the public to incrementally erode the American people's ability to decide who gets to move here from abroad. They have devised endless opportunities to appeal deportation decisions, prevented the implementation of needed control measures, pushed relentlessly to pierce numerical caps, and created strong incentives against government functionaries saying "no" to those who want to come. The motto over the doorway of the immigration office might as well be "It ain't over til the alien wins."
President Obama has turned up the heat over the past five years. Using "prosecutorial discretion" as a pretext, he has exempted the vast majority of illegal aliens from the consequences of their actions. He has formally amnestied — without legislative authorization — more than a half-million illegal immigrants who claim to have come here before age 16. He is signaling that sometime this year he will unilaterally, and illegally, amnesty half or more of the roughly 12 million illegal aliens now living in the United States.
All this generated some pushback, of course, but not enough to get the frog to jump out of the pot.
The border crisis seems to be changing that.
Tens of thousands of teenagers and families from Central America have poured into Texas, drawn by the Obama administration's lax enforcement policies. There should be an emergency response to this unprecedented crisis, featuring military backup, tent cities, expedited processing and uncompromising rhetoric. Instead, the illegal immigrants are simply being released into the United States with a summons to appear in immigration court. The majority will ignore the summons with impunity, but it allows them to reside and travel here legally until the court date, leading to its being nicknamed a "permiso," or permit.
The administration's frivolous approach to the deluge is clear from a recent request for an extra $3.7 billion to address it. The majority of funds would go not to enforcement but to efforts at resettling the illegal aliens in the United States.
The response of the administration and its supporters to the breakdown of the border in South Texas seems to have finally gotten a large share of the public to see what's happening. Even the White House's use of illegal-alien children as human shields for its anti-sovereignty policies has not managed to allay the increasing sense of alarm across the country.
Only a few peeps of concern have emanated from Democrats in Congress, most of whom are applauding the border breakdown. Republicans haven't been much better. Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain have taken the opportunity to repeat their support for amnesty and dramatic increases in immigration. Others at least are concerned, but have been distracted by the trivial issue of a 2008 anti-trafficking law, which does not even apply here.
In the absence of political leadership, the public is jumping out of the pot on its own. A new Gallup poll shows that immigration now tops the list of most important issues facing the country, higher than dissatisfaction with government, the economy, jobs or health care.
That concern is being expressed by ordinary citizens in their communities. Residents of Murrieta, Calif., were the first to act, blocking buses to prevent the relocation of illegal immigrants from the Texas border. Virtually the entire town of Lawrenceville, Va., came to a community meeting on relocating illegal-immigrant juveniles there, causing the federal government to back off. Similar resistance has happened in Vassar, Mich.; Oracle, Ariz.; Greece, N.Y.; Escondido, Calif.; and elsewhere.
The story isn't over in those communities, where illegal immigrants have already been relocated. Come September, thousands of illegal-alien "minors" (many of them adults lying about their age) will be entering unprepared public schools, creating a new wave of outrage.
Perhaps one particular decision by the White House highlights how concerned the administration is about public reaction: As of now, not a single illegal-alien detainee seems to have been sent to Louisiana or Arkansas, the states bordering Texas that are closest to the site of the border deluge. This is no accident. Those two states have Democratic senators up for re-election who are vulnerable enough to lose, but who might still be able to prevail. The White House appears to have decided not to send any illegals there to avoid the potential for political damage.
This weekend, protests are planned across the country against amnesty and for immigration enforcement. Such events don't usually draw large crowds, since for most people most of the time, immigration just isn't that important an issue.
However, this time might be different. The anti-borders crowd has overreached, doing us a favor by revealing their true intentions. It's time to jump.
Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.