By Tyler Bauer
On Thursday, President Trump spoke yet again about immigration and his desired wall at our southern border. While he usually is aggressive and demanding, President Trump showed a more reserved and patient side. President Trump even said he’d give Mexico a “one year warning” to stop illegal immigration.
If the idea of a “one year warning” seems odd, that’s because it is odd. President Trump has repeatedly called illegal immigration a crisis and referred to the situation at our southern border as a national emergency. I’ve said before that this isn’t true and that illegal immigration and the situation at our southern border didn’t amount to a crisis or national emergency.
By giving Mexico a full year to stop illegal immigration, President Trump is proving my point. If we really were living in a state of emergency, President Trump wouldn’t be negotiating a solution with Mexico, and he certainly wouldn’t be waiting a year before doing something.
To nobody’s surprise, President Trump followed up a self-defeating statement on Thursday with faulty logic on Friday. Yesterday, while discussing the situation at the southern border in Calexico, California, President Trump said, “Our country is full.” President Trump claimed that immigration across our southern border is burdening our immigration system. While it is likely true that our immigration system is burdened to some extent, President Trump’s claim that “our country is full” doesn’t stand up to criticism. To be fair to President Trump, I’ll deconstruct a few different ways his comments could be interpreted.
The first possible interpretation is perhaps the interpretation most favorable to President Trump. Although he didn’t say as much, one can assume that he meant to say that illegal immigration – rather than immigration as a whole – is burdening our immigration system. In this respect, President Trump is probably right, as illegal immigration does place a burden on our immigration system. However, President Trump is focusing on the wrong area when it comes to this topic. President Trump wrongly assumes that the best way to stop illegal immigration is to better secure our southern border. While this may help, the number of illegal immigrants caught crossing the southern border pales in comparison to the number of illegals who have overstayed their visas after legally entering the country. Though I disagree with his policies, President Trump is well within his rights to focus on illegal immigration at the border; however, this focus ignores the bulk of the problem.
The second possible interpretation is less favorable to President Trump. With this interpretation, President Trump appears to want to limit all immigration at the southern border by closing the border. Though he didn’t say as much yesterday, he said exactly this on Tuesday. Closing the border – and, as a result, all immigration from the south – doesn’t help our “overburdened” immigration system. After all, we would still be receiving immigrants – legal and illegal alike – from just about everywhere else in the world. Therefore, rather than lessening the burden on our immigration system, he appears to be singling out Mexico specifically. As for why he would single out Mexico specifically, your guess is as good as mine.
The third and most unlikely interpretation of President Trump’s comments is that our immigration system is overburdened by all immigration, not just illegal immigration. I reached this interpretation due to the fact that he explicitly said, “Our country is full.” In this case, the logically consistent thing to do would be to limit all immigration. However, if our country is truly “full,” he couldn’t just stop at limiting immigration. A “full” country implies that the burden goes far beyond our immigration system; logically, it would follow that all aspects of our country would be burdened. Healthcare, infrastructure, education, and so on – in a “full” country, it would all be overburdened. If this were the case and our country were truly “full,” restricting immigration wouldn’t be enough to ease the burden. President Trump would have to restrict the birthrate, too. After all, adding a citizen via immigration is really no different than adding a citizen via birth. Both will use the roads, go to school, and more. Therefore, if we truly lived in a “full” country and President Trump actually wanted to address the issue, he would have to go far further than he seems willing to go.
Overall, I think the first interpretation is the most likely interpretation of President Trump’s comments in the past few days. Regardless of which interpretation most closely fits President Trump’s views, though, one thing is clear: President Trump isn’t really serious about immigration. If you need proof of that, look no further than the fact that President Trump isn’t treating immigration like the national emergency he says it is.