- - Thursday, March 7, 2019

There are reasonable objections to President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to use military appropriations to build a barrier on the U.S.-Mexican border. We share those reasonable objections. The constitutional concerns, as laid out by Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, are stark. Should the president be able to appropriate funds that Congress has repeatedly denied him? It’s a reasonable question, and the president is likely to be rebuked by Congress.

What is plainly unreasonable is the claim that there is no crisis at the border. The president has repeatedly been accused of “manufacturing” a crisis. The situation at the border is fine, the president’s loyal opposition would have everyone believe. This is nonsense. In February, apprehensions of illegal border crossers reached an 11-year high of 76,000. “The majority of border crossers are not single men but families — fathers from Honduras with adolescent boys they are pulling away from gang violence, mothers with toddlers from Guatemala,” The New York Times reported. That makes it more difficult to turn them away. Many illegal migrants don’t try to evade capture, but simply show up at the border and apply for asylum.

The surge in illegal immigration has many fathers. The “push” factors are the same as ever. Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador remain violent and impoverished. Those who have the wherewithal to leave usually do, and as soon as they can.

What’s changed are the “pulls.” The United States has an economy roaring in a way that it hasn’t in at least two decades. Unemployment is at a 50-year low. Wages are rising. The American political climate is welcoming to illegal immigrants in unprecedented ways. The Democrats implicitly (and sometime explicitly) are all for open borders. In 2016 Hillary Clinton said that if elected president she would deport only illegal immigrants who had committed violent crimes. In the two years since, her party has grown even more extreme. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls strict border control an “immorality.” Other prominent Democrats want to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the branch of the Homeland Security Department that enforces immigration laws. Would-be migrants — who pay close attention to what is going on in the United States — are assured that one party will fight not to deport them if they come here illegally.

The Republicans, for their part, have hardly telegraphed a tough message on immigration and national sovereignty. The Republican-controlled Senate wanted to allocate a fraction of what the president demanded for building a barrier, which led to the declaration of a national emergency. Many Republicans repeat the business lobby’s cliches about “comprehensive immigration reform,” which would provide amnesty to the millions of illegal immigrants already here and encourage more to follow.

The president himself has encouraged more immigration. At least four times in the last month, Mr. Trump suggested increasing immigration levels, which would reverse immigration policy from a year ago. At a White House meeting with Silicon Valley executives, the president said, “It’s not a question of do we want [more immigration], these folks are going to have to sort of not expand too much We want to have the companies grow and the only way they’re going to grow is if we give them the workers.” The implication is clear: The corporate sector wants more workers, the cheaper the better.

At his well-received CPAC address, the president said “And now, we want people to come in, we need workers to come in.” The nation of immigrants will always welcome newcomers, but any nation has the right — and responsibility — to say who those newcomers can be, and how many. No apologies.

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