David Brat, a Tea Party-sponsored candidate, trounced House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary in Virginia. Brat, a political newcomer, precipitated what pundit Larry Sabato calls one of the most dramatic upsets in American political history.
It seems that the tables turned when Brat, in the last minutes of the campaign, made the immigration chaos on our Southern border a major issue. Brat’s victory tells us that Americans are angry over uncontrolled illegal immigration. In politics, as in physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
[sharequote align="center"]In politics, as in physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.[/sharequote]
Cantor stood for immigration reform, which many see as a road to amnesty. Brat pointed to the uncontrolled anarchy on our Southern border. His message mobilized voters to release their anger.
They could not direct it at President Barack Obama or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Cantor became a target of convenience, sending a strong message to Republicans and Democrats alike. American taxpayers are tired of picking up the tab for the social problems of Mexico and Central America.
Seventh District US Congressional Republican winnder, David Brat displays an immigration mailer by Congressman Eric Cantor during a press conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, May 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
There is an invasion on our Southern border. Tens of thousands of children, some unaccompanied, have illegally crossed into Texas. They have overwhelmed the Border Patrol and the charitable organizations that minister to illegal immigrants.
Eighty thousand children are expected to swarm through the border this year. They are a logistical, health, and public relations nightmare.
Unable to absorb this number of illegal immigrants, the Border Patrol refocused its mission on finding ways to disperse the children. Some went to military bases, such as the Ventura California Naval Base. Border patrol officers put others on Greyhound buses and sent them to Tucson, Nogales, and Phoenix.
The self-appointed immigrants’ rights organizations were quick to place blame on the United States government. For them, the government is at fault for not having prepared for this onslaught. They expect to recieve billions more tax dollars to deal with the problem. The government estimates that the multitude of illegal immigrants will cost at least $ 2.28 billion, 1.4 billion more than the administration originally planned.
However, the question of how thousands of children, many unaccompanied, got through Mexico is one immigrant rights groups do not engage. Mexico’s immigration policy is barbaric. Any illegal immigrant caught crossing Mexico’s southern border will be robbed and beaten by Mexico’s corrupt police.
There is no Attorney General Eric Holder in Mexico that will rush to send government lawyers to sort out the illegal immigrants’ qualifications for asylum or propose that the Mexican government is responsible for humanitarian aid to those who illegally entered the country.
Women and children look through a box of cloths that were donated by volunteers at the Greyhound bus terminal, Thursday, May 29, 2014 in Phoenix. About 400 mostly Central American women and children caught crossing from Mexico into south Texas were flown to Arizona this weekend after border agents there ran out of space and resources. Officials then dropped hundreds of them off at Phoenix and Tucson Greyhound stations, overwhelming the stations and humanitarian groups who were trying to help. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Mexico is dependent on remittances from the illegal migrants it sends across the border. It wants those Yankee dollars going back to Mexico, not to Honduras, El Salvador, or Guatemala.
[sharequote align="center"]So just how do thousands mostly unaccompanied and impoverished children get across Mexico?[/sharequote]
So just how do thousands mostly unaccompanied and impoverished children get across Mexico? Obviously, whoever takes these illegal migrants to America’s porous borders offers a kick back to the Mexican government.
Why would the Mexican government tolerate such a large number of Central American illegal immigrants going to America, immigrants who will never remit money back to Mexico’s coffers?
These children are hemorrhaging the Border Patrol’s abilities to monitor the border. The administration is mobilizing the Border Patrol to deal with a humanitarian problem with the poster face of a child. As a result, the permeable border is now even more permeable, making it even easier to slip through drugs, contraband, and illegal immigrants.
The children are a diversionary tactic and one that has worked quite well to the benefit of the Mexican government, the drug cartels, the administration, and the immigrant rights groups.
The administration, in an election year, will spin this as showing the need for immigration reform, as if policies that are more lenient will produce fewer waves of illegal immigrants. The immigrant rights groups will add their voice to that refrain. But in Virginia, voters are not listening.
After all, for immigrant rights groups, it is the obligation of the American taxpayer to pay for the socio-economic problems of Mexico and Central America at a time when America’s veterans are dying from inadequate medical attention.
U.S. Border Patrol agents look for footprints along the highly polluted New River which crosses from Mexico into the United States and forms part of the U.S.-Mexico border on November 15, 2013 in Calexico, California. The river and border fence separate the large Mexican city of Mexicali with Calexico, CA, and is a frequent illegal crossing point for immigrant smugglers. Credit: John Moore/Getty Images
The liberal elite rushes to deal with these as short-term problems that can be fixed by throwing money at them, without considering the long-term social consequences.
To these groups, the reason these children are swarming through our borders is that they running from the breakdown of the social order in their own countries.
In his seminal work on immigration, The Uprooted, Oscar Handlin discusses both the push and pull of the decision to become an immigrant. Immigrant rights groups want to talk about the former but seldom the latter. The vague reference to Central America, which comprises five different countries, makes the push issue problematic. Certainly, there are economic problems in these countries, but not all of these societies are spiraling into chaos.
The economic opportunities in America for people at the bottom of the social and educational hierarchy are also limited. The last thing America needs is low skilled workers who do not speak English and might not be literate in their native tongue.
What pulls these people toward America is the idea that they won’t be turned away. President Obama might boast that he has an outstanding record on deporting illegal immigrants, but like most things that emerge from this administration, it is a matter of definition.
The border patrol plays catch and release with immigrants coming over the wire, and the administration cynically counts these as deportations in a sad manipulation of data to hide its true policy and serve political ends. Catch and release even applies to illegal immigrants with criminal records that should be deported.
Central American immigrants ride north on top of a freight train on August 6, 2013 near Juchitan, Mexico. Thousands of Central American migrants ride the trains, known as 'la bestia', or the beast, during their long and perilous journey through Mexico to reach the U.S. border. Some of the immigrants are robbed and assaulted by gangs who control the train tops, while others fall asleep and tumble down, losing limbs or perishing under the wheels of the trains. Only a fraction of the immigrants who start the journey in Central America will traverse Mexico completely unscathed - and all this before illegally entering the United States and facing the considerable U.S. border security apparatus designed to track, detain and deport them. Credit: Getty Images
We have a policy of open borders. If you can elude catch and release, there is a very low probability you will be deported.This chaos at the border is a result of not enforcing existing immigration laws. This has created the accurate perception that the government will not turn away illegal immigrants who make it beyond the border.
In the 1970’s, it was common among Latin American Marxists to characterize cocaine as the Latin American atomic bomb, a drug that would spark rampant addiction and ruin our society.
Even cocaine, however, will not take down our society as rapidly as the press of tens of thousands of unskilled illegal immigrants who will end up on the dole or incarcerated in prisons. Their despair here will be only modestly different than it was in their own countries. Their anger will be directed toward the society that did not fulfill their dreams.
One can feel for the plight of these unaccompanied children, but it is far better to think about the plight of our nation if we persist in absorbing the social and economic problems of other nations. Apparently, that is the conclusion to which some of Virginia’s voters came to in the dramatic defeat of Cantor.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati. He also served on the faculty of the University of California, Davis and the University of Illinois, Urbana.
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