San Francisco sued the regime over the executive order to defund sanctuary cities. City leaders declared our unyielding rhetorical commitment to remain a haven for immigrants. Other cities issued similarly defiant statements, including Boston and New York. Even Birmingham, Ala., bravely voted this week to declare itself a sanctuary city.
Here are FIVE THINGS on immigration that will BLOW YOUR MIND.
1. Immigrants don’t want to live here. The U.S.-born newcomer to San Francisco is not the norm, with dreams of app-strewn streets (spring rolls and Whatsapp, both), fleeing the unceasing torment of a safe suburban life. Throughout human history, most people would rather stay put. Migrations are driven by famine, violence, persecution and grinding poverty — the real extreme vetting. They get a better life from trading death by cholera, murder and malnutrition for death by diabetes, heart disease and texting while driving.
2. Historically, undocumented immigrants from Mexico want to come to the United States to earn money. They want to send money back and buy a house in Mexico. Immigration patterns do not rise and fall based on how much the U.S. enforces dumb laws, but on economic cycles. Migrants are looking for work, and the border is just the worst commute ever. Like the N-Judah. In the desert. With guns.
3. In actual operations, “sanctuary city” is not dramatic. City personnel can’t stop U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from working here or deporting people, and The City has to comply with warrants or face federal prosecution. At most, all “sanctuary city” means is that city personnel are expected not to HELP immigration deport people any more than they are legally compelled to. If San Francisco really wanted to be a sanctuary, it would rezone the ICE building for high-rise housing.
4. The immigration system creates felonies. Politicians talk about deporting “bad people” or “criminals” and think they must be deporting people convicted of violent crime. Not so. Illegal entry is an infraction, like a parking ticket. We are literally sending paramilitaries to deport people who committed the legal equivalent of running a stop sign. Getting caught twice for illegal re-entry is a felony, which still hasn’t hurt anyone.
5. Immigration enforcement is a huge waste of money. We imprison people for months and then deport them. We build $80 million courthouses just to deport people. It would be a more efficient and humane immigration policy to take the $6 billion we currently spend and hand sacks of cash to every single migrant instead, like a reality show. “You made it this far. We’ll give you what you would earn in five years in cash right now if you turn around.”
The appeal to Republican extremists of attacking sanctuary cities is to weaken two core Democratic constituencies at once: immigrants and cities. Both groups vote Democratic by large margins. They want to defund city government to make all government fail, and they want native-born city voters turning on immigrants.
The Women’s March drew more than three million people, making it the largest protest in American history. More than 1 percent of the entire U.S. population was in the streets. The previous record-holder for biggest protest was the May 2006 immigrant rights marches, drawing 1.5 million people nationwide. If those two groups got together, the Republicans would be kaput.
If you want to control immigration, there are easier, cheaper and less violent ways. End the drug war, for starters. The North American Free Trade Agreement dumped cheap U.S. corn on the Mexican market, forcing Mexican corn farmers to go in search of work. Invest in initiatives that will end poverty in Latin American and allow people to have a decent standard of living there. The way to “Make America Great Again” is to “Make Mexico Mejor Again.” If you want #MAGA, you need #MMMA.
Personally, I don’t want to limit immigration, because I enjoy having immigrants in my community and think everyone should go wherever they damn well please.
Nato Green is a San Francisco-based comedian, writer and activist. See his monthly comedy show Verdi Wild Things Are at the Verdi Club on Feb. 9.