The Chinese Virus that has knocked 23 percent out of the stock market and boosted unemployment claims by 16 million in a month still hasn’t inspired Congress or President Trump to call for an immigration moratorium. The jobless numbers have even awakened Conservatism Inc.’s Charlie Kirk—he’s called for an end to work visas, a position many Americans share. Yet however nationalist Congressional Republicans sound in denouncing China for inflicting the deadly pathogen on the world, not one has suggested closing the borders to protect American jobs and health. It amounts to a catastrophic and ominous failure of leadership.
That failure reached its peak in the virus relief package, which blocked Pentagon money for building a border wall but provided $350 million in “refugee” aid. Only one Republican, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, objected.
How bad is the virus for the economy and the unemployed? When an immigration booster like Kirk is worried, you know it’s trouble. The Turning Point USA founder, a favorite target for nationalist mockery during the “Groyper Wars,” has suddenly offered surprisingly cogent ideas. Tops among them: an immigration moratorium:.
“We need a total moratorium on ALL visas until employment levels go back to pre-pandemic levels—put our citizens first!” he tweeted on April 3.
We need a total moratorium on ALL visas until employment levels go back to pre-pandemic levels—put our citizens first!— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) April 3, 2020
He repeated the message last week.
Put US citizens FIRST! [Links added]
“There’s a ruling class in this country that doesn't represent this generation and it’s indefensible,” Kirk correctly said in a video attached to that tweet.
Millions of college students went into debt to get a high paying job— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) April 10, 2020
This is now the toughest job market in American history
Foreign nationals should NOT get preference until our students can get jobs
Pause ALL visas until we’re back to full employment
Put US citizens FIRST! pic.twitter.com/rhSLOWVEZc
Even more significantly, the USA Today/Ipsos survey just found 80 percent support for tough immigration measures.
About 8 in 10 support drastic steps on immigration: imposing mandatory quarantines for people who have traveled to any other country and temporarily stopping immigration from all other countries. Seven in 10 want to ground all international flights. Almost half, by 49%-34%, want to ground all domestic flights.
[Exclusive: In four devastating weeks, Americans' fears of the coronavirus have exploded, by Susan Page, USA Today, April 13].
That’s a powerful America First message. So why hasn’t any ambitious Republican tossed the idea into the Capitol’s hopper?
The answer: Timid leaders.
Of course, the idea would go nowhere in the Democrat-controlled House, but that doesn’t mean Gaetz, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, or another ambitious immigration patriot shouldn’t propose it.
My candidate to carry the GOP’s lance and banderole is Rep. Steve King, who has been remarkably quiet since losing his committee assignments last year over a fake news smear. Although the Iowan lacks the power and political capital to advance a bill, he could at least propose it and hope a colleague tries moving it.
So why no action in the Senate?
Because the upper chamber contains not a single Jeff Sessions or Kris Kobach whose chief focus is immigration. A few senators raise the occasional battle cry against open borders, but when the fighting starts, they slip away. Even Tom Cotton, David Perdue, and Josh Hawley, three GOP reliables who reintroduced the RAISE Act that would cut legal immigration in half, don’t lead on the issue.
Granted, Hawley, Cotton, and other GOP lawmakers want to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. and punish China. But that, it seems, is as far as they’re willing to go.
Widely seen as presidential timber, Hawley is eager to lead on bold legislation that attacks our dependency on China and Big Tech’s power. His plan to combat the China virus with far more government intervention in the economy and stiff penalties on China has, of course, discomfited our ruling-class elites [Josh Hawley sets up potential clash in GOP with coronavirus push, by Burgess Everett, Politico, April 6, 2020].
So why is he ignoring the virus-immigration angle?
My guess: Having mastered inviting favorable coverage in D.C.’s media fishbowl, Hawley thinks the connection will tarnish his brand. Many Main Stream Media profiles of the senator tout him as the “future of the GOP” and a challenge to the party’s free market orthodoxy [Josh Hawley’s Mission to Remake the GOP, by Emma Green, The Atlantic, November 24, 2019]. That won’t last if he links the pandemic to Open Borders in general or China in particular.
Cotton is too focused on hawkish neoconservative foreign policy to become the Senate’s premier immigration patriot. Establishmentarian Perdue is a weak sister on cheap foreign labor.
Then there’s Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who would prefer to ignore immigration altogether. He’s Business First, not America First. Taxes, the economy, and judicial appointments are his main concerns—the latter with some justification given the power of the open-borders Kritarchy that has attempted to usurp the president’s authority on immigration.
All this is why McConnell doesn’t want Kris Kobach in the Senate. He wants loyal toadies, not uncontrollable immigration patriots [GOP fears loss of Senate as Democrats handed opportunity in Kansas, by David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, January 07, 2020].
And one more thing. McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, another ruling-class elitist, is a Chinese immigrant.
But neither the Treason Lobby’s Control of the House nor GOP weakness in the Senate means immigration patriots should give up. Several years ago, my predecessor as Washington Watcher analyzed why Republicans hadn’t taken up an immigration moratorium in response to the 2008-9 Great Recession. The primary reason: The conservative grassroots didn’t demand it, so Republicans felt no pressure to adopt it. In contrast, remember what killed the Bush-McCain-Kennedy amnesty in 2007? An uprising of Middle America.
But times have changed. The hoi polloi now have an ally with a megaphone just as loud as that of the MSM-Treason Lobby combine. Fox News talker Tucker Carlson regularly blasts open borders, as does his colleague, Laura Ingraham. Even Rush Limbaugh, the longtime and most successful propagandist for Conservatism, Inc., talks about the dangers of mass immigration.
And now immigration patriots have Charlie Kirk on their side.
But aside from a moratorium, a bold GOP lawmaker—again, a Gaetz, Gosar, or King—might propose plenty of ideas:
Note that, unlike Republicans, Democrats don’t hesitate to pushing their immigration agenda at every opportunity, as the WuFlu relief bill showed. Now, they’re trying to halt deportations, release illegals from detention facilities, and even send them free money [Democrats Introduce Bill Giving Coronavirus Relief To Illegal Aliens, by Jason Hopkins, The Daily Caller, April 3, 2020].
It’s time that Republicans answer in kind. And if even Charlie Kirk gets it, maybe the Congressional GOP will too.