Between you and me, I'm in favor of deporting every single Dreamer just because of the stupid name "Dreamer".
Failing that, I'm in favor of deporting Senators-for-Life Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch, who sponsored the original "DREAM Act", which failed. That's to say, despite repeated efforts over the course of this century, it has not become law. It's not an act, it's a bill - and a flop bill, which means it's just a pile of moldering papers sitting somewhere in the basement of the Orrin Hatch Archive and Senatorial Library soon to be built in Utah.
Readers will know I strongly dislike the contemporary habit of acronymic legislation: The "DREAM Act" is, more precisely, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. The Tea Act that so excited His Majesty's subjects in British North America was, in fact, called "An act to allow a drawback of the duties of customs on the exportation of tea or oil to any of his Majesty's colonies or plantations in America; to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the East India Company's sales; and to empower the Commissioners of the Treasury to grant licenses to the East India Company to export tea duty-free". If only Lord North had thought to call it the TASTY Act (Telling Americans we're Still Taxing You), the whole unpleasantness of the Boston Tea Party and subsequent events might have been avoided.
But the DREAM Act is not merely an example of fatuous aconyms. It also demonstrates the larger point I've made over the years - of how culture trumps politics. The DREAM Act bombed as politics, but the stupid name took hold in the culture - to wit:
DREAMers Like Me Have Flourished Under DACA. Trump Might Take It All Away
...and a zillion other headlines: "The Dreamers Are Ready to Fight President Trump." "This Dreamer Is Ready to Go to the Army. Will Trump Let Him?" "Congress, It's Up to You to Protect the Dreamers." Etc.
So we have gone from "illegal aliens" to "undocumented workers" to "Dreamers". And Republican voters wonder why they never win anything. Sixty years ago, the US Government was happy to call its "comprehensive immigration reform" plans "Operation Wetback", and President Eisenhower was willing to use the term in public. Now we expect jelly-spined finger-in-the-windy legislators to stand firm against "Dreamers". Yeah, right. As for Europe, if Chancellor Merkel and the EU start calling their legions of sturdy young Muslim "refugees" Dreamers, it's game over.
Okay, if it's unreasonable to deport a fine upstanding colossus of the Democrats such as Dick Durbin, could we at least deport Orrin Hatch? A former Republican presidential candidate, he was all over the airwaves yesterday claiming to be tough on border enforcement ...but only once we've legalized all these "Dreamers". Presumably it was some obscure staffer of Durbin's, acting at the behest of the lobbyists, who came up with the beguiling name "DREAM Act". But Hatch might have understood the concession he was making. The sentimentalization of public affairs that accompanies these acronymic abominations is embarrassing to a self-governing republic in and of itself. But it's especially damaging on this particular question - because mass unskilled immigration is the biggest issue facing the western world right now, and that grotesque sentimentalization embodied by hogwash like "Dreamers" makes mature, rational discussion of public policy impossible. Republican voters have minimal expectations of the likes of Orrin Hatch, but they had at least the right to expect he would have grasped something that basic.
"I'm A Dreamer. Aren't We All?" as Janet Gaynor sagely observed in Sunny Side Up. I dream of a villa on Lake Como, but I don't see why the Italian government should be in the least bit interested in my dreams, or in adjusting their laws to accommodate me. As the founder of Davos, Klaus Schwab, has speculated:
Imagine one billion inhabitants [of the developing world], imagine they all move north.
I ran his math:
A billion man march, eh? The population of the developed world - North America, the European Union, Japan, Oz, NZ - is about a billion. Of the remaining six billion people around the planet, is it really so absurd to think that one-sixth of them would "move north" if they could?
As we had cause to reflect on Labor Day, no developed nation in the year 2017 needs mass immigration. To judge from the press coverage, the average DACA beneficiary is a twelve-year-old beatific moppet. In fact, Obama amnestied those aged 30 and under in 2012 - which means some of them are 36 now, which means (given that they're either undocumented or using fraudulent documents) some of these dreaming moppets are in their forties. No matter. Those who aren't telegenic infants are, we're assured, serving in the US Army or helping with Harvey relief. As Tucker Carlson scoffed last night, the proportion of Dreamers serving in the military is tiny. And as a statistic it might be more useful if we could compare it to the number of Dreamers serving in, say, MS-13.
Yet Orrin Hatch assures us that Dreamers have to be "of good character". And DACA supposedly requires that a Dreamer...
.. has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
But this is rubbish. First, because US Immigration checks nothing. (I was told at the time of my own application that the relevant bureaucrat would spend six minutes on it, which is not enough time to read it, never mind check it. And I would imagine that since then the time allocation has only shrunk.) Second, because anyone with even the most casual acquaintance with the dank toilet of the US justice system knows that all over the map criminals are pleading down felonies to misdemeanors every minute of the day (a career criminal who stole from me did it in New Hampshire just last year). Third, because, thanks to the genius jurists of the Supreme Court, criminal aliens are specifically required to be advised of any immigration implications to their case, and so prosecutors more or less routinely tell them to cop a deal to avoid attracting the attentions of ICE.
That's to say, the left hand of government tells Americans not to worry, no felons are eligible - while the right hand of government is frantically pleading down felonies to misdemeanors precisely in order that the felons remain eligible.
And, of course, the minute Dreamers become legal, chain migration will take care of the rest, including their parents, who broke the law in the first place - because, despite the assurances, no one will check that, either.
Nevertheless, in the eyes of the American people, and certainly their media, a Dreamer is a class valedictorian about to sign up for a tour in Afghanistan. So good luck to any Republican legislator minded to argue against that. Thus the power of a single word to frame the issue: "Illegal aliens" are lawbreakers who should face the consequences. But Dreamers are an identity group, like the transgendered or gays or African-Americans: it's as innate as biology or orientation; why blame them?
Perhaps the most depressing aspect of the last 24 hours is the way it has utterly upended the extraordinary events of summer 2015, when Donald Trump did something truly radical for a candidate of either party: He talked about the problem of immigration policy not from the perspective of the Dreamers but of those on the receiving end of their dreams. Back then, several members of the current Trump Administration were outraged by this. In an unprecedented move, Nikki Haley used the official Republican response to the State of the Union to attack not President Obama but candidate Trump and those foolish enough to "follow the siren call of the angriest voices". As I responded:
Unfortunately for her, this sentimentalist twaddle is not where the Republican base is. She's looking at immigration policy from the point of view of the seven billion hard-working soon-to-be-vetted Americans-in-waiting around the planet. But one of the changes this election season is that the party base is considering immigration policy from the point of view of the 300 million Americans who are already here.
That was the extraordinary transformation Donald Trump effected two summers ago. Now we're back to all the usual "sentimentalist twaddle" - "hard-working", "family values", "living in the shadows" and (from delusional Republicans) "natural conservatives".
To be sure, Republicans are still prepared to criticize Obama for his chosen method of immigration "reform" - via executive order, or, as George III would have called it, Royal Proclamation. "We can't burn the Constitution just to do what you want," Sean Hannity told Jorge Ramos on Fox last night.
But why not? We're burning everything else, as one act of illegality leads on to another, and another: The unlawful entry of millions of unskilled immigrants has led to the unlawful corruption of state databases that implicitly accept the use of stolen Social Security numbers, and the unlawful issuance of drivers' licenses by multiple states to non-legal residents, and the unlawful creation of "sanctuary cities" premised on the nullification of US immigration law, and now even the proposed repeal by certain municipalities of the defining privilege of citizenship in free societies - by the introduction of voting rights for non-citizens. Why should the separation of powers be quaintly adhered to when nothing else is?
In his Royal Proclamation, President Obama, as the Coyote-in-Chief, was doing no more than what millions of Undocumented-Americans have done: Who says I can't do it? I've just done it. What you gonna do about it? From Undocumented Americans to Undocumented Legislating is but a small step. Shortly after DACA, my daughter and I were accused by an intemperate CBP agent of an arcane infraction of our own immigration status and, in fact, threatened with a call to ICE to deport my little girl. Evidently she's no Dreamer, notwithstanding that I brought her to this country through no fault of her own. I cocked a cool eyebrow worthy of Roger Moore: "Oh, yes?" I said. "So you're saying that this is a rare sub-clause of US immigration law still in effect?"
He disliked the cut of my jib, and even more so when I pointed out the President had no more right to engage in one-man legislating than I did. But our interaction was beginning to attract attention, so he waved me through. Yet this is very much where North American and European life is headed: those who flout the law with contempt are indulged; those deferential to the bureaucracy will be chastised ever more. I mean, is there anything more absurd than a constitutional argument over whether it's the President or the legislature who should surrender to mass organized law-breaking by illegal aliens?
The left is quite explicit: Borders are fascist and racist, and thus the organizing principle of the world for the last four centuries - the nation state - is an illegitimate concept. The globalist establishment is not that upfront about it: they're more of the view, publicly, that the nation state is an obsolescent and increasingly irrelevant concept. This is, in fact, "burning the Constitution", and even the very concept of constitutions, and of the Peace of Westphalia - for the two most fundamental aspects of any state are borders and citizenship. If there are no borders, there are no citizens, only competing tribes of identity politics - like Dreamers. And, if , as his name surely suggests, a Dreamer trumps a citizen, and if anyone on the planet is a potential American, then American citizenship is objectively worthless.
Words matter. Which is why seeing too many of the conservative commentariat meekly swallow the open-borders crowd's framing of the issue is so dispiriting. In this case, the Dream is a nightmare - of the end of nations, and of ordered societies.
~If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club, feel free to comment away - especially if you're a Dreamer. If you're not a member but you'd like to be, you can sign up for a full year, or, lest you suspect a dubious scam by a fly-by-night shyster, merely a quarter. And don't forget our new gift membership for a friend or loved one. For more on The Mark Steyn Club, please see here.
Mark will be back with another episode of his current nightly audio adventure, The Secret Agent, later today, Wednesday, and he'll be live on TV with the aforementioned Tucker Carlson tonight at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific.
Comment on this item (members only)
Viewing and submission of reader comments is restricted to Mark Steyn Club members only. If you are not yet a member, please click here to join. If you are already a member, please log in here: