America’s national debate over immigration has descended into a food fight.
While most of us have quietly maintained reasonable views on the issue, extremists on both sides have shouted down their opponents and resorted to vulgar rhetoric and even violence.
In particular, those seeking virtually no restrictions on immigration have been all too comfortable hurling one of the ugliest, laziest, and most unintellectual accusations possible — that those who disagree with their positions must be motivated by racism.
These imputations have been largely unchallenged for too long. It’s time for an honest, nonconfrontational and candid conversation on the relationship between race and immigration policy.
The consistent goal of myself and my organization has been to create an America that is safe and prosperous for all its citizens and legal residents. Nowhere in that goal is there a provision that says one race of American citizens should benefit at the expense of others.
Unfortunately, fringe elements with truly racist ideologies have attempted to hijack the immigration issue for their own ends. Anti-borders zealots have seized upon this small but vocal group and tried to make them the face of the movement to secure our borders. This is a shameful fabrication.
Simply put, any racial superiority ideology is incompatible with true, “America First” immigration reform. The two do not and cannot coexist. While the historical fact is that America’s actions have not always matched its ideals on racial equality, no other country has done more to remedy that past.
In the global economy of the 21st century, America has benefited from the myriad skills and perspectives of its vibrant population. To seek a monochrome America would be to weaken its advantages in an increasingly competitive world.
While trying to graft extremist beliefs onto a majority of citizens who simply want to live in safe, prosperous neighborhoods, those seeking a borderless country have also tried to characterize America itself as racist and anti-immigrant.
This is another grotesque falsehood, and it flies in opposition to the facts. America has a larger immigrant population than any other country in the world. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 90 percent of legal immigrants to the United States in 2016 came from countries with nonwhite majorities.
The anti-Trump resistance made enormous political hay out of the accusation that the president wants to decrease immigration from primarily nonwhite countries. Lost in that furor was the report that President Donald Trump was also seeking more immigration from Asian countries because of their tendency to produce highly skilled workers.
So the issue really isn’t race at all. Rather, it is being selective about whom we allow to enter based on the value they can bring to the United States.
Research has consistently shown that while a majority of Americans are sympathetic to the plight of the children of illegal alien parents in America, they also favor a border wall and an end to chain migration and the visa lottery.
With public opinion against them on these issues, anti-borders groups resort to name-calling and ad hominem attacks to vilify those seeking a responsible immigration policy.
The most appalling example of this is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has traded in its legacy as a civil rights organization for its new role as the bully of the public square.
Emboldened by the news media and much of corporate America, the SPLC labels as a “hate group” anybody who does not agree with its far-Left extremist positions on immigration and other issues.
“It begs the question, what is to be done when the self-appointed judge, jury and executioner of ‘hate groups’ is a ‘hate group’ itself?”
But the SPLC does not merely oppose the groups it smears with the “hate group” label. It also looks to choke off sources of funding with the aim of destroying these targeted groups and silencing views that dissent from its own.
It begs the question, what is to be done when the self-appointed judge, jury and executioner of “hate groups” is a “hate group” itself?
America has been, should be, and always will be a compassionate country that seeks to help those suffering from persecution. However, to open our doors to the global population without restriction would cause our country to cease being the place where our freedom, economic strength, and quality of life set the standard for the rest of the world.
America’s best days are ahead, and there should be no place in our future for those advocating racial supremacy. Similarly, we should shun those who irresponsibly employ false accusations of racism to push an extreme political agenda that the American people would otherwise summarily reject.
Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.