The cakewalk is over for open borders enthusiasts.
The immigration reform movement has gotten smarter and more resilient during the last year. And as our numbers have increased, so has our influence.
In my recent column "Immigration: The Line Holds in Congress," I reported that a coalition of concerned Americans had wrestled Congress to a draw over two terrible bills, the Save Our Summer Act of 2004 and the AgJOBS bill, a de facto amnesty for as many as 3 million Mexican illegal aliens.
Because activists put heavy pressure on Congress, the bills never came up for a vote.
But I believe our victories registered on Capitol Hill are part of a bigger and equally encouraging picture that is playing out nationwide.
From many examples, I'll cite three.
Rubio is a Mexican national deported in July after officials found that her presence in the US violated her 1997 deportation order. At the time of her deportation, Rubio was eight months pregnant.
The usual suspects spared no effort to get Rubio back into the US.
Her lawyer, Luis Carrillo, asked that Rubio be allowed to return for humanitarian reasons. Carillo, citing the 14th Amendment, further argued that since Rubio's unborn child could survive outside the womb, he is already a U.S. citizen. Therefore, concluded Carillo, he should not have been deported.
But Immigration and Customs Enforcement rejected all pleas. According to an ICE representative, Virginia Kice, the argument that the fetus is a citizen is invalid because unborn babies are not granted citizenship.
Said Kice about 14th Amendment citizenship:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States are considered citizens. It doesn't say all persons who were conceived in the United States." Is a fetus a citizen? Deportation case may decide, Associated Press, August 1, 2004
ICE rejected a half a dozen tired arguments that frequently carry the day in these kinds of tear-jerking stories—that Rubio, a pregnant woman with pressing medical conditions, will be separated from her family, including her two young children; that she will have to find medical care in Mexico; that she was improperly represented during her initial deportation proceeding, etc. etc.
But for a change, the sob stuff fell on deaf ears.
"The laws are very harsh, and they lead to separation of families. They should have had compassion that Friday and never put her on that bus [to Tijuana] … they should have told her to come back Monday with her attorney."
This is a sad story. But the blame lies with Rubio, who broke American laws to come here—and with American immigration enthusiasts, from the court house to the White House, who allowed her to think that our laws don't matter.
This Department of Homeland Security program will transport willing illegal aliens from Mexico back to their homes. Even among immigration reform advocates, it is controversial.
We have for years been begging the federal government to deport aliens. So although this repatriation program is only a tiny step limited to a few flights a week from the Arizona-Sonora region, I view it as a sign of raised awareness among federal officials that the US cannot forever be a sponge for every alien who sneaks across the border.
The DHS hopes that those returned deep into Mexico will think twice before paying a coyote for another effort to enter the US.
However, my friend and vastly more experienced VDARE.COM colleague Juan Mann takes a dimmer view of what he calls VRs:
"Voluntary return or "VR" by the U.S. Border Patrol allows Mexicans to go home scot-free, without being subject to the bars against adjustment of status built into the immigration law for aliens who are either formally removed in Immigration Court, or who receive an 'expedited removal' order under Immigration Act Section 235(b)."
Although I understand Juan Mann's point, I am sticking with my more optimistic take. I look at VRs as a politically correct version of "Operation Wetback."
In any case, as noted above, we've been demanding illegal alien deportation. At least we've got something.
Repatriation, which will be reevaluated after it expires on September 30th, may be the start of something big.
Who knows, maybe daily flights from your city to Mexico will begin in October.
But now the Department of Homeland Security has ordered the Montserratians to leave the US by February 27, 2005. It has declared that volcanic eruptions—still occurring eight years later—could no longer be considered a "temporary" environmental disaster.[DHS press release, PDF]
Commenting, a Homeland Security official stated:
"It [volcanic activity] no longer constitutes a temporary disruption of living conditions that temporarily prevents Montserrat from adequately handling the return of its nationals." [ U.S. Is Ending Haven for Those Fleeing a Volcano, by Nina Bernstein, New York Times, August 9, 2004]
From a philosophical perspective, this is a huge announcement that should delight us. Even though it applies to only an infinitesimally small number of immigrants, the deportation order may indicate that the concept of Temporary Protected Status will be comprehensively reviewed.
Or better yet—eliminated! VDARE.COM readers will remember the fraud and multiple extensions that were common in the late 1990s when TPS was extended to Hondurans and Nicaraguans.
Preposterously, the Hondurans and Nicaraguans are still legally here waiting for their next deadline, January 5, 2005.
No matter how much or how little weight you give to the three cases I've outlined, the bottom line on each of them is: "We're Sending You Home!"
We would all like immigration reform to be sweeping and dramatic. But we have some way to go before it's the subject of a State of the Union address.
The examples I've given you do, however, represent how we will ultimately prevail—by building a foundation of small victories that will pave the way for more consequential ones.
As we accumulate successes—which will include Congressional wins—we'll gradually add to the Immigration Reform Caucus. More members seem certain in 2005.
Finally, by the end of the decade, tough talk about immigration reform will be commonplace across a broad political spectrum.
But it's happening.
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.