National Insecurity at the Border

Friday, June 3, 2022
Image credit: 
Poster UK 2561, Poster collection, Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

Image credit: 
Poster UK 2561, Poster collection, Hoover Institution Library & Archives.

The blessings of geography, in the form of two vast oceans and two placid next-door neighbors, have shielded the American homeland from external attack for nearly the entirety of the past two centuries. For this reason, Americans have tended to view national security as something that takes place overseas. The major exception of the recent past, the 9/11 attacks, temporarily turned the American homeland into a top national security priority and spawned fears that terrorists would cross from Mexico into the United States to strike additional blows. When no further cataclysms materialized, the depiction of the homeland and the southern border as pressing national security issues lost steam, and the western hemisphere was once more excluded from the nation’s mental map of national security.

Omitting the southern border from national security priorities is incorrect today, and indeed it has been incorrect for at least half a century. Since the 1970s, transnational criminal organizations have shipped vast amounts of narcotics across the U.S.-Mexico border, and with them have come drug-induced deaths and violent crime. In 2021, the number of overdose fatalities in the United States exceeded 100,000 for the first time, driven primarily by a surge in fentanyl trafficking from Mexico. That tally exceeds the total number of Americans killed in the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq put together. Illegal immigrants may not commit crimes at higher rates than some segments of the legal population (if one excludes the crimes of entering and residing in the United States illicitly), but their crimes nonetheless increase the likelihood that the average American citizen will suffer harm.

America’s affluent classes have never considered these problems to be as serious as more distant foreign problems. Illegal immigrants do not commit many crimes in tony neighborhoods or overcrowd the emergency rooms of wealthy suburbia. Nor do they depress wages in high-paying fields as they do in working-class occupations. The mainstream media downplays the foreign origins of drug-related deaths and violent crimes to avert popular clamoring for stronger border security and immigration control, measures they construe as manifestations of racism and xenophobia. It should therefore come as no surprise that the mainstream media and much of the political class want the United States to shell out huge sums for Ukraine’s security but oppose increased spending for the security of their own southern border.

The same contempt for alleged nativism has caused the press to soft-peddle the impact of illegal immigration on the U.S. electorate. For a time, Americans were told that “demography is destiny,” but open celebration of demographic transformation faded after the Right began serious efforts to stem escalating rates of both legal and illegal immigration. Some proponents now advocate greater immigration by noting that the rising population of legal immigrants includes large numbers of talented and educated individuals with diverse political views.

It is certainly true that Asians, who now account for the largest share of legal immigrants, have been demonstrating a strong distaste for the Democratic Party’s policies on affirmative action, crime, and education. A trend more recent to emerge is declining support for Democrats among Hispanics. Polling has shown that President Biden’s approval rating among Hispanic voters has fallen from 69 at the start of his presidency to 26 percent in April 2022, lower even than the current national average of 33 percent. Dissatisfaction with liberal policies on the economy, crime, and transgenderism has more than offset whatever goodwill Biden might have generated with his immigration policies and his outreach to Latino YouTube influencers. In fact, surging criminality along the nation’s southern border has led a majority of Hispanic voters in border states to disapprove of the Biden administration’s handling of the border.

Focusing on legal immigrants, however, obscures the very different political ramifications of illegal immigration. In recent times, illegal immigrants have given birth to approximately 300,000 children in the United States per year. Each of these “anchor babies” receives citizenship, based on a dubious interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Children born to illegals now account for more than 8% of all children born annually in this country—enough to swing elections if a substantial majority of them vote as a bloc. In addition, more than three million “Dreamers” who entered the United States illegally under the age of eighteen are still in the United States, thanks to politicians who have maintained that entering illegally as children gives them a right to stay, and those same politicians are now trying to give citizenship to the “Dreamers.”

The Biden administration has precipitated the current spike in illegal immigration by allowing hundreds of thousands of illegally arriving families and children to stay in the United States in return for unenforceable promises to attend future immigration hearings. The apprehension and processing of these arrivals have overtaxed the U.S. Border Patrol to the point that it can devote little effort to intercepting the drugs and adult male criminals that continue to stream across. Democrats as well as Republicans predict that Biden’s plan to end deportations under Title 42, a Trump-era health order, will trigger a much larger flood. Soon we will be told that all these children deserve to stay too. And already the number of children born to illegal immigrants is soaring, though so far the government isn’t telling us by how much.

As the children of illegal immigrants become a larger share of the electorate, they will likely add more Democrats than Republicans to the voting rolls. The Democratic Party has achieved success in pandering to this group by allowing their illegal immigrant relatives to stay in the country and by providing social services to those relatives. Some of these voters, it is true, may eventually join the ranks of Hispanics disillusioned with liberal policies, but Biden’s recent tumble may be only temporary. Half a century of Californian history suggests that the Democrats will be able to weather the storm and retain the allegiance of many first- and second-generation immigrants through pandering.

Should illegal immigration continue to shift the political balance in the United States, further harm will come to American national security, if by security we mean the protection of the nation from foreign malefactors. The votes of anchor babies will yield more politicians who oppose interdiction of criminals and drugs at the southern border, who obstruct deportation of illegal immigrants no matter how serious the crimes they commit, and who diminish the wages and the safety of working-class Americans by promoting ever more illegal immigration. Millions of American voters have enough common sense and access to non-traditional media to understand this truth. Chances seem good that their votes in upcoming elections will close some of the wounds that current border policies have opened.