Trump’s Immigration Policy Is the Worst of Both Worlds
On Friday, President Trump signed a “compromise” immigration bill that guts immigration enforcement and repudiates his own powers. Among other harmful provisions, the bill creates a loophole that prevents the deportation of anyone sponsoring (or claiming to sponsor) an “unaccompanied” illegal alien minor, provides more permits for foreign seasonal workers, and gives foreign nations about $50 billion in aid—nearly 40 times what is spent on America’s own border. The bill also prohibits the construction of a wall unless local authorities approve, which is unlikely in border areas Democrats control and that drug cartels influence politically. Though President Trump blustered at a Friday press conference, this was an act of staggering weakness and betrayal of his base. Illegal immigrants are already swarming the border in huge numbers, and this bill is likely to spark a new wave.
President Trump is concealing this defeat by declaring a “national emergency” to obtain money to build his long-promised border wall. Not surprisingly, the media is already whipping up hysteria, citing a supposed “uproar.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have called the move a “lawless act,” Democrats in Congress have introduced a resolution to block the emergency declaration, and President Trump’s own statements make it likely it will be blocked in the courts. The bill he just signed is likely to undermine his own legal case. Some Republicans are also denouncing the plan, with Senator Susan Collins warning it sets a bad precedent, even though the United States is already in 31 separate active “states of emergency” because of various issues around the world.
The state-of-emergency declaration is worse than a crime; it is a mistake. President Trump did not need to issue the declaration to build the wall. Under federal law 10 USC 274/284, President Trump could have ordered fence construction without a state of emergency. He was urged to do this by Congressman Mark Meadows, among others. Dissident-right podcasters at Fash the Nation also discovered Public Law 85-804, which gives the president wide powers to enter into contracts for the “national defense” without regard to Congress. President Trump could also simply order the military to secure the border. Many of these measures might end up in court—but his state-of-emergency declaration will, too. These measures would at least allow the president to establish facts on the ground in the form of existing border defenses and create leverage against the Democrats. They would also allow the president to appear moderate and reasonable—he would not be doing anything new; he’d simply be using his existing authority to do his job to protect the country.
President Trump has not advocated any of the measures that would force Mexico to “pay for the wall.” He has not mentioned a remittance tax. When asked directly about Senator Ted Cruz’s proposal to use the confiscated money from convicted drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to pay for the wall, the president merely said it was “interesting.”
There were a host of proposals on President Trump’s campaign website that have also been forgotten. Before the midterms, he promised an executive order on birthright citizenship. This was never mentioned again after the elections.
Instead, President Trump has chosen the route that will create the maximum amount of opposition both in the courts and among the public. President Trump’s declaration that “I didn’t need to do this” also undermines his own action. One suspects the main motivation for the “emergency” declaration is to create the appearance of action rather than the substance. This way, if the courts or the Democrats block the action, President Trump can blame others for the border crisis and campaign on immigration again in 2020.
Yet by 2020, the immigration issue probably won’t work for him. A good strategist breaks the enemy’s will and ability to resist. President Trump has great political instincts when it comes to identifying issues that could motivate potential supporters. Yet he is no strategist; he is something of an anti-strategist. Over the course of his administration, he has systematically disempowered his own supporters, motivated his enemies, and done nothing to build his own coalition. He fires up his enemies rather than demoralizing them.
Democrats are now the ones eager to use the immigration issue to inspire supporters. Instead of seeking compromise with President Trump on immigration, Democrats such as Kirsten Gillibrand, who once supported immigration-law enforcement, now court confrontation by calling to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
President Trump inspires no fear among Democrats. This is because he did not undertake any serious effort to win over Democratic voters in the Rust Belt. Left-wing journalist Michael Tracey observed that President Trump “had a mandate” to change the direction of the GOP after he embarrassed all their “leading lights” in the Republican primaries. Instead, the newly elected President Trump pushed the priorities of then-Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. During the period of united Republican government, nothing substantial was passed on infrastructure, healthcare, or, most importantly, immigration. The mantle of populism now belongs to the Democrats.
President Trump also did nothing to challenge the technology companies deplatforming his supporters or to confront the antifa gangs attacking them in the streets. His supporters will be far less prominent online during the 2020 campaign because of censorship on Twitter and Facebook. Though President Trump is “in power,” his followers are under siege.
One of the establishment’s great strengths is that it disguises the sources of power. Certainly the people aren’t sovereign; Americans elect politicians based on their campaign promises, but those promises do little to affect their conduct in office. In the American system, judges have great power to unilaterally declare law and force sweeping social changes, from gay marriage to desegregation. However, the groundwork for their decisions is laid in advance, and one would have to be naive to think judges are simply “following the law where it leads.” The media has great power, but “the media” is not a singular actor, and powerful journalists from Mark Halperin to Jack Smith IV have been destroyed by the very machine they once served. An “authoritarian” system is easier to oppose, because you at least know who holds sovereignty.
President Trump doesn’t appear to run his own administration, let alone the country. Despite his histrionics, he is remarkably weak when it comes to dealing with Congress. However, the Left can pretend it is living in the world of The Handmaid’s Tale or Vichy France because President Trump talks like an authoritarian, even if he doesn’t act like it. The “state of emergency” declaration and the juvenile gloating from the president’s supporters makes the situation even worse. Like Louis XVI, President Trump inspires resentment but not awe.
The White House’s strategy seems fundamentally defensive, trusting in the American people to react against the Democrat Party’s extremism on immigration. Yet this is a failed strategy because of mainstream media hostility and the ongoing censorship of pro-Trump independent media. Instead of President Trump shifting the Overton Window in the direction of immigration enforcement, his presidency’s main effect has been to push the Democrats in the position of open borders. For example, probable presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke now supports tearing down some existing border defenses.
On immigration, it’s questionable whether Donald Trump in office is better than Hillary Clinton would have been. It is reasonable to assume that Republicans would have maintained control of Congress in 2018 if Hillary Clinton was in the White House. It’s doubtful a Republican Congress would have passed this amnesty bill for the benefit of a Democrat president. Hillary Clinton, like Barack Obama, would have used executive orders to liberalize immigration. However, that is arguably less damaging than creating immigration loopholes via statute, like President Trump has just done.
Thanks to all the loopholes in the bill the president has just signed, “the wall,” even if it is ever built, is now what the Democrats have claimed all along—a pointless waste of money. Worse, from the perspective of white advocates, it is a waste of time and energy. The main argument for supporting President Trump was that he would reduce illegal immigration, deport at least some illegals already here, and provide political space for European-Americans to act in their own defense. Instead, Trump has accelerated the decline. Given that he and his family are directly endangered by his opposition, one can’t even accuse him of being “controlled opposition” or paid off. Instead, he appears driven by incompetence and cowardice, concealed by boasting.
President Trump has rendered himself powerless in terms of policy, though he is still a symbol of American nationalism. Politically irrelevant, he matters metapolitically, and his rise showed that there is a vast white constituency hungry for nationalist policies and opposition to mass immigration, globalism, and political correctness. The Trump movement is over not because it failed, but because it was betrayed. The fighting spirit is still there, and a new champion may emerge out of nowhere, like Donald Trump himself did in 2015. In the meantime, white advocates must fund our institutions, build networks and power on a local level, and keep working to make overt white advocacy mainstream. Take heart. White America lives and has not yet begun to fight.