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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Wall funding debate shows DC elites fiddle while the nation burns

As official Washington pauses this week to reflect on the life of the late President George H.W. Bush, the current president, Donald Trump, announced talks on funding for a proposed U.S./Mexico border wall have been put on hold (along with other budget bills yet to be passed) to observe a proper period of mourning.

Jamie McIntyre and Travis J. Tritten reported at The Washington Examiner, “On his flight home from the G20 summit in Argentina President Trump indicated he’s amenable to delaying a showdown over funding for his Mexico border wall in deference to the week of mourning for the death of former President George H.W. Bush Friday night. Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Trump said if Congress wants to pass another continuing resolution to keep the 25 percent of government that is still unfunded open past Friday's deadline, he'd be Reagan Bush April 1980willing to go along.

“’If they come — which they have — to talk about an extension because of President Bush’s passing, I would absolutely consider it and probably give it,’ Trump said.”

Alas, something done in the DC swamp that doesn’t appear to be politically motivated. Considering the circumstances, delaying a very public battle over next year’s appropriations and the all-so-necessary border wall is entirely justifiable. Neither Trump nor congressional Democrats want to appear petty and insensitive at this moment in history.

If anything, the political class will likely wait until next Monday before resuming the partisan he-said-she-said rhetorical strife again. By Tuesday folks will hardly recognize anything’s different, with Nancy Pelosi and “Chucky” Schumer back to vowing to never grant a dime to Trump on the subject, violent illegal migrant caravan parked at the border notwithstanding.

Of course other important legislative business is likely being pushed to the side as well, such as senate confirmations for President Trump’s judicial nominations. Will outgoing Arizona Senator Jeff Flake have the decency to drop his obsession over the utterly ridiculous “Protect Mueller” bill in the interim? Probably not. Insecure attention-seeking grandstanders like Flake only care about their own personal vendettas and insecurities.

Needless to say the national media has something else to drone over in the coming news cycles. Will they call a ceasefire in their all-out assault on the Trump administration? Will speculation over the invisible and absurd Robert Mueller investigation be driven from the headlines?

The next few days will be instructive. For now, as long as folks are talking about the late President Bush’s legacy -- and immigration -- it’s helpful to glimpse back to the spring of 1980 when Bush and then GOP frontrunner Ronald Reagan discussed the subject during a candidate forum (moderated by Walter Cronkite of all people).

The debate was held on April 4, 1980 and confirms the issue has been around a LONG time. (If you’d like to view the video, click here. You’ll be shocked to see how familiar the main themes remain).

Questioner, David Grossberg: “Do you think children of illegal aliens should be able to attend Texas public schools free or do you think their parents should pay for their education?”

George H.W. Bush: “Look, I would like to see something done about this illegal alien problem that would be so sensitive and so understanding about labor needs and human needs that that problem wouldn’t come up. But today, if those people are here (looks skyward as if searching the ceiling for guidance), I would reluctantly say they would get whatever, you know, what society is giving to their neighbors.

“But the problem has to be solved. The problem has to be solved. As we have kind of made illegal some kinds of labor I’d like to see legal, we’re doing two things. We’re creating a whole society of really decent, honorable, family-loving people that are in violation of the law, and secondly, we’re exacerbating relations with Mexico.

“The answer to your question is much more fundamental than whether they can attend Houston schools it seems to me. If they’re living here… I don’t want to see a whole thing of six and eight-year-old kids being made to feel they’re uneducated and made to feel they’re living outside the law.

“Let’s address ourselves to the fundamentals. (Emphatically) These are good people. Strong people. Part of my family is a Mexican. (Audience applauds)

Ronald Reagan: “I think the time has come that the United States and our neighbors, particularly our neighbor to the south, should have a better understanding and a better relationship than we’ve ever had. And I think we haven’t been sensitive enough to our size and to our power.

“They have a problem of 40-50 percent unemployment. This cannot continue without the possibility arising, with regard to that other country that we talked about, what Cuba is stirring up, of trouble below our border and we could have a very hostile and estranged neighbor on our border.

“Rather than talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some mutual recognition of our problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit and then while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And then when they want to go back, they can go back.

“They can cross. And open the border both ways by understanding their problems. This is the only safety valve they have right now with that unemployment that probably keeps the lid from blowing off down there. I think we could have a fine relationship and it would solve the problem you mentioned also.”

A few things struck me about Bush’s and Reagan’s early 80’s views on the border issue and how to resolve the problem of people residing in this country illegally.

First, Bush unabashedly described it as the “illegal alien problem,” an insensitive phrase which in today’s overtly politically correct world would be taboo, one where liberals swear no one is “illegal” and the subject’s been dumbed down to a large extent. We’re now labeling aliens as “undocumented workers” or individuals without legal status. Perhaps even more noticeable was Bush and Reagan didn’t refer to the children of illegal aliens as “DREAMERS” or some other inane and soft-sounding reference to a state-of-being for humans who arrived here (or were dragged here) before adulthood.

Second, both Bush and Reagan appeared to be for what today would be referred to as a “guest worker” program, to provide official government permission for non-citizens to travel here, work, pay taxes and then leave whenever they felt like it or were compelled to do so by expiration of their visas.

Reagan even said he’d hope to “open up” the border to allow free passage for both sides. It’s shocking how today’s Democrats and liberals don’t pick up on The Gipper’s words and use them to bolster their contemporary arguments against “building a fence” and closing the southern border. The obvious difference is the two Republican presidential hopefuls couldn’t possibly foretell the future and see how badly the situation has escalated.

Notions of educating illegal children and dealing with capable people jumping the border to avoid chronic unemployment is child’s play compared with what President Trump is combatting now. Think of the difference: Mexico’s economy is fairly healthy by comparison (to back then at least), waves of would-be central American migrants are beating on the proverbial golden door in San Ysidro demanding entrance and included among them are known criminals, drug dealers and possibly Islamic terrorists hoping to avoid detection.

Through decades of experience and study we know not all of the people who desire to come here are doing so with good intentions and hopes of earning an honest day’s wage with the eventual goal of returning to their home countries when economic conditions improve there. We also understand that the political left’s primary mission is to dissolve borders so as to wreck the entire concept of America -- namely the notion of constitutional exceptionalism and superiority of national sovereignty over global governance.

Third, President Trump’s already proposed an imminently workable compromise immigration program which would reasonably and permanently deal with the illegal alien threat while also furthering America’s tradition of welcoming newcomers and encouraging them to arrive here prepared to assimilate.

Perhaps unlike in Reagan and Bush’s time, constructing a physical barrier is eminently necessary today, not only to deter future “caravans” from making the trip north (to take advantage of lax immigration laws), but also as a national security measure. A wall alone won’t do the trick, but when combined with other protective means -- electronic border surveillance, national employment verification and a preference for immigrants who speak English and bring skills with them -- the allure of invading the United States will erode away quickly.

As would be expected, Bush framed the illegal immigration problem as a human dilemma -- what to do with the people themselves? In contrast, Reagan not-so-subtly deemed it a national security peril. Failing to deal with the ill effects of illegal immigration all these years has indeed resulted in instability below the border -- as Reagan predicted -- though it’s not quite from Cuba’s direction as he suggested it might be.

The Communist menace ain’t what it used to be. In the 21st century the true danger involves loss of American principles the way they were meant to be, sacred natural rights and individual liberty sacrificed to politically correct notions of open borders and global citizenship. Islamic terrorists could never conquer America through destroying the U.S. military, though they could wreck our country’s resolve to protect itself through loss of faith in ourselves and our exceptionalism.

Lastly, as Trump recently proposed, birthright citizenship must be ended. Neither Reagan nor Bush directly addressed the topic though the incentive for many of these migrants to come here involves hopes of getting free “stuff” on the American taxpayers’ dime. Birthing a child in the United States means eligibility for government benefits, right?

This cannot continue. Ned Ryun wrote at Fox News, “Why, exactly, is it humane to demand that American taxpayers pay for the costs of those coming in illegally? Why is it humane to demand that our children bear the cost of the impending economic disaster that our current quasi-open borders and essentially open social welfare systems will bring about? What about the humanity of our American veterans who sacrificed in defense of our country? Why should we be spending tax dollars on illegal immigrants for ‘humanity’s sake’ when many of our veterans are not given the care, and even respect, they are due? …

“So what happens in the very near future when this low and unskilled labor force, many who have come and continue to come via our broken immigration system and porous border, have no work? Violent protests in the streets? Those thrown out of work being thrown instead into our already failing social welfare systems? Guess who funds the results of all that? The American taxpayer, us, our children, paying life-crushing, draconian taxes.

“If we allow such immoral political leadership to continue, in both Republican and Democratic circles, then all of us will be working for the government. Every last one of us. And that will be the end of our free society.”

Ryun is right; both parties resist dealing with illegal immigration. GOP establishment elites are beholden to the party’s Chamber of Commerce-type big business donor interests, liberal corporate titans who demand access to cheap labor which in turn undercuts wages. This unskilled labor force can be held at arm’s length and exploited without concern for the harm being done to greater society.

For their part, Democrats just want the votes. Statistically, the more non-English speaking, poorly educated people there are the greater the chance they’ll vote for the party that freely unlocks the doors to the federal treasury and adheres to their demands for “rights” even though they’re not citizens.

Republicans’ complete control of Congress along with the White House the past two years didn’t result in progress in treating the illegal immigration plague. Paul Ryan and House GOP leaders could’ve easily prompted votes on various conservative proposals that, if passed, would’ve funded the border wall, tightened restrictions on legal migration and, to some extent, offered legal status to some classes of aliens here without sanction.

They didn’t push it. What excuse do they have now?

Meanwhile, Democrats purposely withheld cooperation on any reasonable immigration resolutions because they sought to preserve the issue ahead of this year’s midterm elections. They predicted Republicans would suffer politically if they dealt with the problem, but in reality, Democrats gambled that nothing would be done.

They won. Republican leaders caved, leaving President Trump to take the fall for their inertia and incompetence -- and the party paid the price at the ballot box a month ago, didn’t it?

The one-week rhetorical ceasefire in the battle over border wall funding will make little difference in the scheme of things. Both parties’ leaders have treated illegal immigration as a political hot potato for decades. Sooner or later something must be done -- or migrant caravans will keep coming.

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