Amer­ica’s sec­ond civil war

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Ralph Z. Hal­low

The U.S. is in the mid­dle of a sec­ond civil war. On one side are Amer­i­cans who think we have a unique, en­vi­able and ex­em­plary cul­ture. On the other side are sanc­tu­ary city may­ors, their sup­port­ers ev­ery­where, and Democrats who de­sire di­ver­sity ahead of as­sim­i­la­tion.

The di­ver­sity-uberists say there’s no such thing as Amer­i­can ex­cep­tion­al­ism. And even if there is, so what? Un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants are peo­ple too.

My side in this war says it’s not about whether il­le­gals are peo­ple — of course they are. Rather, it’s about Amer­ica be­ing a na­tion of le­gal im­mi­grants, not il­le­gal aliens, about a cul­ture so en­vi­able a mix­ture of many cul­tures as to be worth pre­serv­ing.

Us­ing words I wish Pres­i­dent Trump as a can­di­date had used to de­scribe il­le­gal aliens, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions ap­peared to state this view on the day af­ter La­bor Day. He said it’s up to Congress in the next six months to fig­ure out the most ef­fec­tive and fairest way to end Pres­i­dent Obama ef­fec­tively ap­prov­ing the pres­ence of peo­ple il­le­gally brought into the U.S. as chil­dren. Their il­le­gal alien par­ents vi­o­lated U.S. law con­sciously; their chil­dren did not. It’s not an easy sit­u­a­tion to rec­tify.

Mr. Ses­sions said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­tion is in no way meant to re­flect badly on the chil­dren brought here. He’s right. Al­most all il­le­gal aliens cross our borders to es­cape cor­rupt, dys­func­tional economies in their home coun­tries, in­clud­ing and es­pe­cially Mex­ico. A rea­son­able ar­gu­ment is that Mr. Obama vi­o­lated U.S. laws and the Con­sti­tu­tion out of hu­man­i­tar­ian rea­sons, though we can’t dis­count po­lit­i­cal ones (more His­panic il­le­gals equals more votes for Democrats).

But as Mr. Obama has never said, and as Pres­i­dent Trump al­ways says, a na­tion with­out borders is no na­tion at all.

Orig­i­nally, the drive to re­duce il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion to neg­li­gi­ble num­bers was meant to ac­com­plish two things. One was job pro­tec­tion for Amer­i­cans at the low end of the pay scale along with tax­payer pro­tec­tion from bur­den­some pub­lic school, emer­gency room and so­cial wel­fare costs of il­le­gals un­able and/ or un­will­ing to fend for them­selves.

The sec­ond rea­son was and is to pre­serve a uniquely Amer­i­can cul­ture. Amer­ica has a 241-year his­tory of ab­sorb­ing and en­cul­tur­at­ing new­com­ers. But Amer­i­cans like me doubt my coun­try can as­sim­i­late ex­ces­sive num­bers of im­mi­grants not brought up to re­spect val­ues like in­di­vid­u­al­ity, per­sonal free­dom, rule of law, equal op­por­tu­nity, self-suf­fi­ciency with­out re­liance on gov­ern­ment as a first re­sort and the rights of oth­ers, in­clud­ing their free­dom of speech and assem­bly. And, per­haps most of all, peo­ple not brought up with a “can do” ap­proach in­stead of the “can’t do” that char­ac­ter­izes vir­tu­ally every un­suc­cess­ful cul­ture and econ­omy around the world.

Oh, and I al­most for­got, re­duc­ing the num­ber of new­com­ers not schooled in the value of a sin­gle na­tional lan­guage — English in our case. Amer­i­cans would do well to have to learn in their pub­lic schools flu­ency in at least one other lan­guage than English. (You don’t need me to ex­plain why this is a good thing.)

But it must be a sec­ond lan­guage of their choice. I and mil­lions of other Amer­i­cans never wanted a bilin­gual so­ci­ety — we didn’t want to have to hear a Span­ish and English greet­ing every time we dial up a busi­ness. We didn’t want to be asked to press “one” if we want to con­duct this call in English, two in Span­ish. Canada has nearly come apart at times be­cause of the sep­a­ratism you get when part of your na­tion of­fi­cially speaks English and part French.

I love Span­ish — and French. But what Amer­i­cans like me want is a melt­ing pot where all ci­ti­zens share English as their com­mon lan­guage, share uniquely Amer­i­can ethics, re­spect for the rule of law and es­tab­lished stan­dards of be­hav­ior. We want im­mi­grants to be proud of their her­itage but prouder still of their adopted cul­ture.

We do not want a salad bowl mix of unas­sim­i­lated cul­tures, a so­ci­ety where peo­ple cling to their na­tive lan­guages, cus­toms, be­hav­ioral stan­dards and ethics and do not think of them­selves as Amer­i­can.

As for Mr. Trump’s ini­tially harsh char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Mex­i­can il­le­gals, it helped get him elected not be­cause peo­ple like me agreed that most Mex­i­can il­le­gals are mur­ders, rapists, etc., but be­cause we thought the harsh rhetoric meant fi­nally an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent would turn out not to be a liar in promis­ing to seal our bor­der.

On that score Mr. Trump seems some­what suc­cess­ful. The promised im­pen­e­tra­ble wall doesn’t yet ex­ist, nor is there a re­al­is­tic like­li­hood that Mex­ico will pay for it. But on our south­ern bor­der, il­le­gal cross­ings are way down. Would-be trans­gres­sors ap­par­ently no longer think that once across the bor­der, they will be “home” free for­ever, if not longer.

The Trump pres­i­dency’s hall­mark should be the most strin­gent pos­si­ble en­force­ment of the law at our borders, plus or­der­ing all law en­force­ment of­fi­cers to hunt down and to in­stantly, if not sooner, re­turn to sender every il­le­gal alien, whether brought here as a child or not, who has been con­victed of a crime in the U.S.

Congress should let il­le­gals brought here as chil­dren but who have been crime-free con­tinue to ap­ply for re­new­able green cards — i.e., work per­mits. This amnesty of sorts should ap­ply to kids brought here up to the day Congress en­acts the law Mr. Trump asked for.

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