“We shall keep open our borders for legal migration while the people in this country want to close them,” said President Trump on Thursday night. The message traveled across Twitter. Many people might think it sounded like Trump was indicating his support for a “kindred spirit” of mass deportations. But, in fact, Trump said this, and not a solitary person has taken him up on it.
For months, many voices in Washington have been supporting a “kindred spirit” of mass deportations – however reminiscent that language may sound to Trump and his supporters. What can he mean by a “kindred spirit”?
For anyone under the illusion that Trump’s idea for a “kindred spirit” of deportations will be some form of amnesty for all 11 million undocumented immigrants — or the barbed wire-clad vision of “Open Borders” — think again. Even if Trump were to support a proposal for a “kindred spirit” of mass deportations that offered actual amnesty for those in the country illegally (which is very unlikely), our current president would not be the one to implement it. That would be Congress.
It’s even more unlikely, however, that a president was thinking about mass deportations at all this week. For Trump, yesterday’s even more banal threat of a “big, beautiful Southern border wall” and a solemn proclamation of “International Women’s Day” was the appropriate place to be. (“These accomplishments and contributions all demonstrate that women matter,” Trump said, at the White House.) It’s hard to see how any of this required the government to be closing the borders while the new Mexican ambassador was arriving. There was no need to spend time on international diplomacy while Americans were suffering from a wall.
The most confounding thing about the time we are living in is that Trump said this speech. The president sounds no different from anybody else – hard to imagine he ever has – who speaks, spouts nonsense about everything, and makes great speeches. The difference is that he has more people who believe in the sincerity of his message.
That’s where they come from, and it’s where the walls are. You couldn’t find an alien in outer space who understands Donald Trump’s position on women or mass deportations. To judge by the reaction of the people who are given to politically incorrect ideas, it’s all nonsense.
Immigration is being treated as a political issue. It is not. Our immigration laws are rigid – they’re written, under American constitutional principles, to protect legal immigration and border security. They are not written to accommodate mass deportations. To treat the DACA crowd as better people than the rest of the populace, to treat undocumented immigrants as “criminals” and drug dealers, all because they are here illegally, ignores fundamental contradictions in our immigration law. And so does treating immigrants who are legal immigrants as “illegals” and offering amnesty to the very people who are part of the illegal population.
I’ve long been the sort of person who agrees that, to a certain extent, what the U.S. needs to do is end mass immigration. But it should be done differently than what we are doing right now. Mass deportation should be the goal. It is also not realistic. In any case, we can stop mass deportation as easily as we can stop mass immigration, by simply making the goal legal immigration.
Conservatives who support mass deportations have nothing to fear from those who are open to legal immigration. Conservatives of all stripes agree that the E1 Visa program, which grants millions of visas to the children of people with green cards, is problematic. I’ve argued persuasively that we could resolve that problem easily – and completely – by using the E1 Visa program to give legal visas to the children of the children of people in this country legally. For those who support ending mass immigration, this would be the best way to do it, and it would be the only good way to do it. Any other approach is outright absurd.
So, when you hear people say that Trump will end mass deportation or E1 Visa programs or whatever, please keep those statements in mind. It’s gibberish. It’s total nonsense.