- - Wednesday, November 10, 2021

During the Jimmy Carter administration and the simultaneous economic disaster America was enduring, Bruce Springsteen’s contemporary Bill Chinnock released an album called Badlands. The most popular song from the album, “Something for Everybody” was a commentary on the desperate economic straits many citizens were enduring. 

One verse says: 

“Unemployment sent me to welfare, welfare demanded some proof
I was so drunk I couldn’t even remember my name
I tried, but there ain’t no use.”

The chorus of the song tweaks an age-old saying about the riches of America:

“There’s Something for Everybody
There’s something for young and old
The streets are filled with money
The sidewalks paved in gold.”



The old phrase “the streets are paved in gold” is so tightly woven into the history of United States immigration, particularly during the 19th century and early 20th century, that an Ellis Island museum exhibit that opened in 2018 was actually called “Streets Paved in Gold.”

It is a mythical term of course, but is indicative of the expectation of a better life in America. Many immigrants of the day were willing to endure tremendous hardship, including unpleasant, unhealthy and sometimes deadly passage aboard overcrowded, poorly ventilated ships in hopes of a new and better chance at success. They didn’t believe the streets were literally paved in gold, but rather, they understood a golden opportunity awaited them. 

Fast forward to 2021 and once again America is seeing a large influx of immigrants, this time primarily from Central America. It would be safe to assume many of those immigrants are also hoping for a better life. The big difference this time around is that thanks to the Biden Administration, the streets may literally be paved with gold for those who’ve chosen to enter the United States illegally. 

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Biden Administration Justice Department agreed to pay $450,000 per person and up to $1 million per family to illegal immigrants who had been separated from their families. That is $450,000 American dollars. For the average American that is almost nine years of work. Biden’s Justice Department officials apparently believe handing the equivalent of nine years payout to people whose first act on American soil was to willfully disregard U.S. law is a reasonable response. 

In all fairness, Mr. Biden himself thought it was a terrible idea. When the news reports first came to light Peter Doocy of FoxNews asked a pointed question. “Mr. President, as you’re leaving for your overseas trip, there were reports that were surfacing that your administration is planning to pay illegal immigrants who are separated from their families at the border,” Doocy said. “Up to $450,000 each, possibly a million dollars per family. Do you think that that might incentivize more people to come over illegally?”

Mr. Biden physically winced at the idea, disgusted that FoxNews would float such foolishness, going so far as to call the report “garbage.” A visibly irritated President seethed, “If you guys keep sending that garbage out, yeah. But it’s not true,” Regarding the payments, Mr. Biden repeated, “It’s not true,” then paused and said. “Yeah. $450,000 per person, is that what you’re saying? That’s not going to happen.”

Except once administration officials were able to corral the President and tuck him safely away from the public and the media, the story changed 180 degrees. The day after Mr. Biden denied the outrageous payment plan, White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre offered a very carefully worded statement saying the U.S. President is “perfectly comfortable” paying migrant families. 

He didn’t look perfectly comfortable when Mr. Doocy asked him about it, which raises some interesting questions and concerns. If Mr. Biden thought the idea was garbage, how on earth did he change his mind in just 24 hours? Who is really in charge at the White House and why aren’t they sharing these details with the duly elected President?  

Even outside groups knew more about Mr. Biden’s administration initiatives than the seemingly lost President. The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents some of the families separated at the border in lawsuits, offered that perhaps Mr. Biden was not “fully briefed” on actions by the Justice Department regarding those cases. How is it that the ACLU knew the specifics of an agreement before Mr. Biden even knew any such agreement was being considered? 

Poorly thought out policies like paving the streets with gold for illegals at the same time Americans are suffering from supply chain shortages, skyrocketing inflation and huge increases in fuel prices demonstrate just how out of touch this administration is. The fact Mr. Biden publicly opposed his own Justice Department’s agreement before some behind-the-scenes leash reeled him back in less than twenty-four hours later tells you just how out of touch he is with what is even happening on his own watch. 

Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that only 17% of likely U.S. Voters think undocumented immigrants should be able to sue the United States government. That’s about one out of six. 

That might explain an even more telling number in a USA/Suffolk University Poll. 64% of Americans don’t want Biden to run again. You read that right, nearly two-thirds do not think the President should run again, including thirty-nine percent of respondents who voted for Biden last year. It’s not even 10 months into his term and his failures and nutty ideas are piling up so high so fast that even his own party is abandoning him. Should they pivot and start to focus on the future of Biden’s Vice President, Kamala Harris? Most definitely not. That same USA/Suffolk University Poll found her approval rating at a dismal 28%. 

Perhaps the plunging poll numbers, Virginia election day losses and repeated embarrassments will convince the left to drop their unpopular agenda of critical race theory, pumping up gas prices in pursuit of a warm, fuzzy, feel-good green future and taxing anything that moves. More likely they’ll double down in the months they have remaining in control of all of Washington, only to take colossal losses at the ballot box in the fall of 2022. 

Regardless, you may want to consider putting on some tattered old clothes, heading to Mexico and then wading across the Rio Grande back into America. There could be a million-dollar jackpot in it for you and your family. Just don’t tell them you’re a legitimate citizen. For illegals, the streets are paved in gold. 

• Tim Constantine is a columnist for The Washington Times and hosts “The Capitol Hill Show” podcast every week from Washington, D.C.

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