In a recent meeting between the President and a bipartisan group of lawmakers trying to broker a new immigration policy “deal”, President Trump, in a response to part of that committee wanting to reserve open immigration status for Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries, said something to this effect, “Why do people from #$%!hole countries want to come here?” This has ignited a firestorm in the mainstream press, and among keyboard warriors on social media that firmly believe in the narrative that the author of “The Art of the Deal” is essentially a xenophobic, racist, white supremacist.
Now, I firmly disagree with his choice of language. I do not use such language myself. I especially do not use such language to refer to people and cultures. For sure, The Donald is no statesman, and I wish we had a person in the Whitehouse with stronger moral fiber, or at least a deactivated Twitter account. But his question, if we change the language, is a valid one. Let’s ask the question that he asked in another way.
Bipartisan Lawmakers: We want to reserve the status of Haitians, El Salvadorans, and multiple African nations to come here easily as part of the new immigration deal.
The Donald: Why do people from ”under developed” countries come here?
The point he is making by asking such a question is that if we continue with our loose immigration policy as it is, then those underdeveloped countries will continue to lose many of their citizens to us, leaving them perennially underdeveloped, and also perennially in need of our assistance. The phrasing of the question was bad, but the question itself is valid. We have to stop yelling racism at everything. If you think somewhere would not be a good place to live, it does not necessarily follow that race is the reason. Perhaps his comment was aimed at the murder rate per 100,000 persons in those countries.
El Salvador has the #4 highest murder rate in the entire world at 41.2 persons per 100,000 persons. African Countries make up a considerable number of the top 25 worst countries as far as the murder rate per 100,000 persons is concerned. Botswana is #24 in the world with a murder rate of 18.4 persons per 100,000 persons. Nigeria is #20 in the world with a murder rate of 20 persons per 100,000 persons. Rwanda is #17 in the world with a murder rate of 23.1 persons per 100,000 persons. The Democratic Republic of Congo is #14 in the world with a murder rate of 28.3 persons per 100,000 persons. South Africa is #10 in the world with a murder rate of 31 persons per 100,000 persons. Swaziland is #8 in the world with a murder rate of 33.8 persons per 100,000 persons.
Clearly these are places that people would not choose to immigrate to if given the choice. I’d venture to say that most people that read this piece, outside of missionaries and aid workers, would never even willingly choose to travel in these countries. Why? Because they are xenophobic racists, or because they are sensible? The average murder rate in the world is around 5 persons per 100,000 persons. All these nations are significantly more dangerous, some of them many times more dangerous than the rest of the world. They can accurately be described as terrible countries to live in.
Of course, this ignites feelings of compassion, and it should. We are a very compassionate people. Americans do a lot of good in the world. But there are real questions surrounding our immigration policy and its impacts. “Are we really helping those countries in the long term?” Also, “Are we enabling their immediate national neighbors to avoid their responsibility in the region?” And finally, “How does this effect our own nation? What are the challenges that we will face domestically due to our policies?” Immigration is good, and a necessary part of U.S. economic policy. But, we are under no obligation to be the destination spot for immigrants from those countries. And our immigration polices maybe hurting not only Caribbean, South and Central American, and African countries individually, but possibly entire regions and continents over the long haul. Sustainability is a word often thrown around in environmental contexts, but what about immigration policy? Is our current policy financially sustainable?
It is unfortunate that it takes human beings enduring difficulty to form them into better persons, but such is the truth. Suffering goes on for much longer than we want it to or think that we can bear. This can be said of people groups too. In order for a nation to grow and reach its potential they often must endure difficulty. In ancient Greece there was the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. In Europe there was the Black plague, The Hundred Years War, and countless other difficulties including serfdom, dictatorships, ethnic wars, and famine. Our history in the U.S. directly precedes the English Civil War and the English Bill of Rights, which greatly informed the founding generations view of how to keep civil peace through religious toleration. The short march to our own Revolutionary was caused by taxes put on us by the British to refill their coffers after they emptied them in the bloody frontier war we call the French and Indian War. A war where women and children were as apt to be victims as men. We learned our lessons in hardship. And while, yes, it is easy for me to sit behind my keyboard and suggest that immigrants in difficult places in the world might need to stay and make things better for their nations in the face of escalating murder rates. Nevertheless, it might just be the truth. I am the beneficiary of sacrifice and civilizational building through the dreaming and suffering of my ancestors. Nations are not built in any other way. I wish there was a Staples type easy button. The fact is, there isn’t.
Take a look at our pie in the sky view of democracy. We leveled the country of Iraq, wrote a constitution for them, and erected voting booths. George W. Bush naively stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier and announced “mission accomplished.” Was it? No, because democratic institutions are, like Rome, “not built in a day.” Democratic Republics are forged in the fires of history, not whipped up like so much instant pudding. You can’t add milk and stir. Our civilization goes back thousands of years to the Greeks themselves. Early American documents quote their works more than any other source outside of the Bible. We came to societal order, republics, rights, and self-governance through millennia of trouble and failure.
We often confuse love with feelings. I am afraid our immigration policy has become like our parenting philosophy. Instead of “helicopter parenting” we engage in “helicopter colonialism.” We won’t admit it, but the U.S., especially those on the left, view everyone else in the world as over grown children who need our beneficence. A lot of what they say sounds like love, and I’m sure it feels like it too. Just like it feels like love when we help our children at times when we should let them fail because it makes us feel bad to watch them fail. We have ruined the character of many through “helicopter parenting.” Having raised a generation that will not grow up and move out of our basements, it is clear that the wisdom and moral clarity required to raise healthy children has largely departed. We no longer know love when we see it. Perhaps our sound-byte culture with its shallow platitudes and virtue signaling are insufficient to form parenting philosophies or immigration policies. Perhaps our children and the people of the world are not chess pieces to be moved around at the whim of our tender feelings. Perhaps there are things we cannot see, and unintended consequences we are not wise enough to foresee. Perhaps we should ask, “Why do people from ”under developed” countries come here?” I would suggest we follow that question up with, “What are our REAL motives for wanting them to come here?” “Helicopter colonialism”, I believe, can be as dangerous and debilitating to those we are trying to help as “helicopter parenting” has been to our own children. And we should take care to think soberly and judiciously about our immigration policy before we ruin the moral character of other noble people by transforming them into dependent victims in the same way that we have our own children.