John Derbyshire: That OTM Caravan—A Warning About The Most Important Graph In The World
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Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, available exclusively on

From his speaking and tweeting earlier this week, after a briefing from Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, it is plain that President Donald J. Trump did not know, until Secretary Nielsen enlightened him, that there is no legal way for the U.S.A. to prevent most foreigners from just walking into our country, then settling here permanently. Why should he have? I doubt one citizen in a hundred knew it.

The drill is, you get yourself to Mexico or Canada, go to the US border, present yourself to a border agent, and ask for asylum. The law says that your asylum application must then be formally recorded and considered. The considering of course takes for ever.

Ideally, you'd be detained in custody while it goes on. In practice, there are nothing like enough detention facilities because Congress won't appropriate the funds. So most applicants are just given an appearance date, then released. They disappear into the U.S. interior and hook up with relatives, friends, or their gang boss from back home.

That's a rough sketch of what happens, although a fair one, as can be seen from the number of asylum applications outstanding—300,000 currently, up from 16,000 five and a half years ago.

It doesn't apply to persons from contiguous nations—Mexico and Canada—who can be refused entry. Hence the term you often see in coverage of the situation at our southern border: "OTMs," which stands for "Other Than Mexicans."

The Trump administration has recently fiddled with the process to try to reduce the backlog, with what success we don't yet know. [ US will target asylum backlog by reviewing newer cases first, by Amy Taxin, AP, January 31, 2018]

We'd better hope for some success: If the rate of increase is constant for another five and a half years, the number of asylees will be kissing six million. Then another five and a half years at the same rate gets you over a hundred million. It's a geometric progression, see?

So here's this caravan of OTMs coming up through Mexico to our southern border. Thursday's Daily Mail had a very good photo-montage of the caravanners, putting faces and bodies to the news coverage.

A striking number of the bodies belonged to pregnant women. Why would that be, I wonder? A lot of others belonged to winsome-looking children. Surely we wouldn't be so heartless as to turn away little kiddies, would we?

However, if you discount some for the tabloid Daily Mail's natural preference for the picturesque, it's plain that the biggest cohort of caravanners are unattached young men, a lot of them sporting tattoos.

I have nothing against young men, and not very much against tattoos. Looking at these faces and bodies, though, I do seriously doubt that any of this cohort, if permitted to settle among us, will take up brain surgery, theoretical physics, or the composing of symphonies.

That's by the by. If this caravan were composed entirely of credentialed professional doctors, engineers, architects, and lawyers, I still wouldn't approve of their being allowed to settle in my country by virtue of merely showing up at the border.

I don't mind these people, or dislike them. I certainly don't hate them, as the infantile language of the Cultural Marxists would say. Some of them look like nice ordinary people. Check out, for example, William Castillo and his family from El Salvador in the Daily Mail montage. I'd guess Mr. Castillo is a hardworking guy who wants his best for the little boy. Heck, if I were an ordinary working Joe in El Salvador, I'd want to get out of there, too.

The world's full of people like that, though: hundreds of millions, billions of them. If even a minor fraction of them—half a billion, say—settled in the U.S.A., we would have a radically different country. I rather like our country the way it is.

So, "hate"? Not really. I wouldn't even scold these caravanners as people intending to break our laws. In fact, they don't actually aim to break any laws. What they aim to do is take advantage of our terminally stupid laws on asylum—laws that the U.S. Congress could fix in a one-hour session, were it not for the fact that our legislators are too useless and corrupt to do what is necessary.

"Hate"? I am, as regular listeners surely know, a genial fellow. One or two personal and particular grudges aside, I don't hate anybody.

There are, though, persons of whom I can say that if, while watching a Netflix movie in my living room, I were to glance out my window and see that person covered in tar and feathers and being chased down the street by a jeering mob of my fellow-citizens, I would not rise from my Barcalounger and go to their assistance.

William Castillo is not one of those people.

Chuck Schumer's one, though. Paul Ryan's another; and Nancy Pelosi, and Mitch McConnell, and Maxine Waters, and Lindsey Graham, and John McCain, and Luis Gutierrez, and Kamala Harris, and Steny Hoyer, and Elijah Cummings, and Jerry Brown, and …

And here's a thing I confess I didn't know: This business of shepherding Central Americans up through Mexico in caravans to the U.S. border has been going on for fifteen years. [Who's Pueblo Sin Fronteras, the group behind the migrant caravan that drew Trump's ire?, by Nicole Acevedo, NBCNews, April 4, 2018] The organizers, an outfit called Pueblos Sin Fronteras—People Without Borders—actually boast on their website, quote, "more than fifteen years," but fifteen years is what our own media outlets say.

Who knew? Well, the folk down in Central America plainly knew. The Mexican government must have known: It's their territory the caravans have been passing through year after year. The people financing Pueblos Sin Fronteras surely know, and presumably have known for all fifteen of those years.

It's we, the poor taxpaying shlubs of the U.S.A., who didn't know. Nobody told us. Must've slipped their minds.

The latest news is that our President has ordered National Guard troops to the border. The number isn't clear; between two and four thousand, we are told. That's not even a band-aid. It's actually fewer troops than George W. Bush's Operation Jump Start.

You remember George W. Bush, right? And how passionate he was about securing our borders, right? Right.

The troops being sent will not of course be shooting people down as they cross the border. What I'd guess they'll be doing is taking over some of the Border Patrol drudge work to free up Border Patrol agents to deal with asylum applicants.

Of which there may not be many. The size of the caravan seems to have dwindled considerably. The government of Mexico has been handing out permits so that the caravanners can stay in that country.

I'd guess that a couple of hundred of them will press on to the U.S. border, claim asylum, and end up in our unskilled workforce, our ob-gyn wards, and our welfare rolls, as seems to have been the case with previous years' caravans.

That couple of hundred will be a drop in the ocean. Border Patrol apprehended thirty-seven thousand individuals between ports of entry on our Southwest Border during March. February, twenty-seven thousand; January, twenty-six thousand; Fiscal 2017 (which ended last September), 304 thousand. Caravan or no caravan, the invasion goes on.

But the caravan story is a warning, a harbinger, a portent. Of a whole lot more—a whole lot more—people from outhouse countries trying to get into the stable, prosperous, free nations that they see on their TV and movie screens and hear about from friends and relatives who have emigrated there.

Random observation from the current press. This is actually The Economist, March 31st:

In a Pew poll, about 40 percent of respondents in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal said they planned to move to another country within five years. Asked whether they would move at once if they had the means and opportunity, 75 percent of Nigerians and Ghanaians said yes. Polling by Afrobarometer in Nigeria last year suggests why. Most of those thinking of leaving said it was to find work or escape economic hardship.

[Europe is sending African migrants home. Will they stay?]

That's from an article about sub-Saharan Africans who reached Libya in hopes of getting to Europe, but who instead are being flown back to their home countries free of charge, courtesy of a joint effort by the EU and UN to stop the flow of so-called "asylum seekers" into Europe.

The returnees are glad to get out of Libya, where—according to The Economist—they were being sold for $400 a head in slave markets. But once they get back home they are itching to escape again:

One mother, on receiving her daughter from Libya, said she would simply try to fly her to Europe instead.
That's with things as they are today. If you follow Steve Sailer's posts you'll be familiar with what Steve calls The World's Most Important Graph. That's the one of UN population projections through the rest or this century, the one that shows Africa's population soaring up into the four billion zone while Europe's flatlines.

Not very long ago—a mere generation, twenty or thirty years ago—it was possible to believe that any Third World country, with sensible economic policies, could become a Denmark, a U.S.A., an Australia. The Cold War was won; we were witnesses to the End of History.

Nobody believes any of that now. History may have ended, but human biodiversity didn't. Countries with a decently high mean IQ, and some track record of civilizational attainment, and not in thrall to crazy religious or ideological cults, will do well. The rest will sink into squalor and desperation.

There are some open cases. India may have a chance, Brazil possibly, Southeast Asia and some Arab countries.

Black Africa, though, and most of Latin America north of the white "cone" nations—Chile, Argentina, Uruguay—… is it possible to have any hope for these places?

I was just recently reading something about Venezuela. Four million people have fled the place. [Fleeing Venezuelans need refuge in the US, Latin America and elsewhere, By Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Fox News, March 31, 2018.] Inflation is six thousand percent per annum. There are food riots; people are eating their pets.

And this is a country with major oil reserves!

What's that you say? "Resource curse"? Norway has major oil reserves; where is their resource curse?

On the horizon, five or ten or fifteen years from now, we can foresee great movements of people—tens and hundreds and millions of people, by land and sea and air. Very few of them will be white, so it will be interesting to see whether our current, compulsory hypocrisies about race will hold up under the onslaught.

This week's caravan of a few hundred may not be that consequential in itself. It did, though, give us a clue—a foretaste—of the shape of things to come.

2010-12-24dl[1]John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com:FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge.His writings are archived at

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