Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

There is no sanctuary without walls

Jerry Stratton, February 1, 2017

No sanctuary without walls

I was in the dentist’s office last year, and overheard a conversation about a guy up from a South or Central American country whose house had been shot up by police for exposing corruption. He was here under an assumed name, and needed dental work, so the dentist had blocked out time for the patient under an obviously fake name. The dentist was explaining to the dental assistants why a fake name was on their calendar. The patient needed a fake name in the United States because his persecutors might also be here.

Because we have no walls to keep them out.

Without walls, we’re not just letting this person in. We’re letting in the people who want to kill him, too. If we don’t treat sanctuary seriously, we are doing people who need sanctuary a dangerous disservice. Sanctuary isn’t sanctuary if you let everyone in.

Letting in both the people escaping corruption and violence, and the people causing corruption and violence is denying sanctuary. Sanctuary cities are anything but sanctuaries when they let violent criminals walk free, especially when they’re allowed to walk free because they’re here illegally, as sanctuary cities do. Even when it means shielding illegal immigrants from drunk-driving laws.

This is the typical one-dimensional thinking of the anointed. Letting refugees in is a good, without question. But letting people in who merely say they are refugees is to let in the persecutors as well, and provide no refuge at all.

Incidentally, long before Donald Trump, I wrote that the ideal immigration policy would be to let everyone in at the doors—with a vetting process—and then we would know that everyone not coming in at the doors shouldn’t be let in.

The one policy that Trump has been riding successfully is his immigration policy. His opponents argue that we should not deny sanctuary to people escaping corruption and violence. But what they mean is that we should stop anybody from coming in. If they say they’re a refugee, or a 12-year-old, we are not supposed to question that. Even though it puts real refugees (and real 12-year-olds) at risk. It isn’t just If we don’t have borders we don’t have a country, as Trump said. If we don’t have borders we cannot provide sanctuary.

My preference for political discourse would be reasoned debates where everyone comes to the table explaining what they want, what they’re willing to give, and what they can’t compromise on. That’s the way George Bush negotiated (both of them) and so many other establishment Republicans. But it doesn’t work against opponents who ask for everything, say that everything is uncompromisable, and take all of their opponent’s compromises as the starting point, not the end.

I saw a meme on Facebook a few days ago that’s being sent out on social media throughout the left:

If you can differentiate between white Christians and the KKK/Westboro, then you can differentiate between Muslims and ISIS.

This is perfectly reasonable. It should be posted at every airport and border crossing, and every immigration bureaucrat’s desk. And yet, a year ago the idea that we should be vetting Muslims who enter the country to see if they are part of ISIS was anathema to the left. The idea that we should look at immigrants to see who is coming here for legal reasons and who for illegal reasons was the sign of a far-right demagogue. When a Ted Cruz suggested this reasonable position, the left called him racist.

Now, I see friends on the left saying they even support “stricter vetting”. The left is even social mediaing Benjamin Franklin’s maxim that those who exchange liberty for safety end up with neither1. This is a quote that self-defense rights activists have been using for years. When people are denied the right to effective self-defense, they will demand that government err on the side of keeping potential criminals out or in prison.

The left has shifted because Trump did what the left does. He demanded more than is reasonable and acted as if it were non-negotiable. It appears to be working. Here’s what his temporary travel ban, temporary until the respective agencies can vet travelers, will do: it will stop the bickering over when we can vet, and all of the effort will go to actually implementing a vetting process. Which, as the left is now memeing, is not that difficult a process. If our current immigration officials refuse to do it or if it’s impossible under our current immigration system, then we need new officials or a new system.

In response to Nobody wants immigration reform: “Immigration is not a problem to be solved.” A confident and successful electorate could understand that issues are more important than who you hate. Unreasoning partisanship, however, is a problem that often seems as if it has no solution.

  1. They don’t mean it yet. The one person I got into a discussion about it with remained adamant about banning most defensive firearms in the United States. But it’s a start.

  1. <- Refugee distrust