The flaw in our immigration debate

Garret Fisher, Columnist

America has juggled the issue of immigration since our inception. Unsurprisingly, this problem has again reared its ugly head with the formation of another migrant caravan currently camped on our southern border. This almost yearly event, coupled with the ever-present issue of illegal immigration, has stoked these tensions tremendously.

Persistent issues of this nature must be discussed and debated in order to respond. However, our lack of coherent debate on the topic leaves us woefully incapable of reacting effectively. The right will call the left open-borders fanatics, and the left will devolve into the typical ad hominem attacks of racist, sexist, bigoted, et cetera. The derision flung from the left towards “bitter clingers,” as dear Obama once labeled the right, is a primary reason for the heated rhetoric and emotion that surrounds this topic continuously.

The crux of the immigration issue in the minds of the American left flows mostly from a deeply ingrained idea that their political adversaries are infected with deep and abiding racism. Case in point, illegal immigration. Many American liberals would have you believe that individuals on the right favor strong borders and limiting immigration mostly out of small-minded hatred or fear of non-whites.

This theory disregards the plethora of reasons one would have for wanting to protect national borders, including protecting low-wage workers, controlling who comes in and out of our country and preventing crimes committed by those who shouldn’t be here to commit them. However, once you believe your opponents are hateful bigots, it becomes far easier to dismiss their ideas outright.

Unfortunately, these beliefs have been bolstered by the perceived racism of the Commander in Chief. I will make no attempt to defend every single statement or comment our President has made. Many of them are indeed indefensible. But deliberate efforts to construe every action of Trump and by proxy the American right as hideous racism is wrong. Regardless of your stance on his actions, there are a variety of reasons for wanting to stop unknown quantities of people from simply walking across your border besides loathing their melanin levels.

Racism, though, is the keystone of these policies, or so you will hear from many prominent lefties. Jane Coaston of Vox opens a piece titled “The scary ideology behind Trump’s immigration instincts” by openly saying Trump’s immigration policies are a result of his eugenics-fueled attempt to stop “white genocide”, a.k.a. demographic replacement. Another article by Paul Kramer of the New York Times immediately accuses Trump of racism due to his less than favorable remarks about some third-world countries. Obviously, in his mind, the only reason Trump would criticize the quality of a country would be due to the “predominantly black and brown” nature of its people. Then of course there’s Hillary Clinton’s casual campaign remark that labeled half of Donald Trump’s supporters, about 31 million people judging by the final vote tally, to be “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it.” These examples and many more have clear implications; if you oppose leftist immigration ideas, you are very likely a racist bigot.

The point made here is not that racism doesn’t exist in our politics. That is a foolish claim. Instead, our goal should be to give our detractors the benefit of the doubt on these problems. That way, we can come to a respectful understanding of each other’s sides.

Garrett Fisher is a junior political science major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]