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Heather Mac Donald
Time to Take Illegal Immigration Seriously
The newsweekly dramatically breaks with elite orthodoxy.
16 September 2004

The cover says it all: two fists ripping a hole in the American flag. And with that striking image, Time magazine just may have started a revolution in the mainstream press’s attitude towards illegal immigration.

For decades, public outrage over illegal immigration met only scorn or indifference from the elite media. The New York Times recently dismissed opponents of border trespassing as the
“ ‘what part of illegal don’t you understand’ crowd.” But with its September 20 cover story, WHO LEFT THE DOOR OPEN?, Time magazine has crossed over to the other side. The 9,000-plus-word article meticulously documents the destruction wrought by illegal aliens. More important, it seethes with indignation at the Bush administration’s unwillingness to stop that destruction. The story’s tone—calling border trespassers “invaders,” who seek to “mask their unlawful presence”—was once confined to the ghetto of talk radio. No longer. And if Time—that venerable voice of the establishment—can fume that it is “outrageously easy to sneak in,” maybe politicians will start to pay attention when the public voices the same complaint.

WHO LEFT THE DOOR OPEN? explodes every myth that open-borders proponents churn out. The most crucial one is the “we can’t turn off the flow” myth. According to this lie, the border invasion is an unstoppable fact of nature that has nothing to do with government action or inaction. The only solution, say the apologists, is to legalize illegality.

Time is having none of it. “Who’s to blame for all the intruders?” the magazine asks. “The problem is one of the U.S.’s own making. The government doesn’t want to fix it.” The biggest cause of border trespassing, argues Time, is the government’s decades-long refusal to enforce the law against employing illegal aliens. Simple solutions—like a fraud-proof Social Security card—have never been tried.

Second biggest myth of the open-borders advocates: illegals take jobs Americans spurn. Wrong again, says Time. It’s bottom-of-the-barrel wage rates, not hard work, that American workers reject.

Third myth: illegal aliens are an economic plus for the country because they cheerfully provide inexpensive services that raise everyone’s standard of living. Give me a break! guffaws Time. WHO LEFT THE DOOR OPEN? catalogues the costs to the public: increased risk of terrorism; local hospitals driven out of business by border interlopers demanding free care; police forces and county jails reeling under the burden of illegal-alien rapists, murderers, bank robbers, and car thieves; Southwestern ranchers and homeowners who daily face “revolting mounds of personal refuse” on their property, not to mention broken fences and missing property; and a corrosive assault on the “U.S. tradition of encouraging legal immigration.”

Fourth myth: the demonization of Proposition 187. No lie is dearer to the elite press than the charge that only a nativist bigot would object to illegals’ exploitation of America’s public largesse. So California’s 1994 passage of Proposition 187—denying taxpayer-funded goods like free education and free hospital treatment to illegal aliens—has until now been characterized as one of the darkest moments in America’s long history of racism towards “people of color.” And along comes Time and actually sympathizes with public anger over the illegal capture of benefits. The government’s failure to enforce immigration laws “breeds anger and resentment among citizens who can’t understand why illegal aliens often receive government-funded health care, education benefits and subsidized housing,” says the magazine. Presumably, Time is not joining the assault on a current Arizona referendum to require proof of citizenship for voting and welfare receipt—a cheeky populist demand to obey existing law.

Time’s groundbreaking story shreds the Bush administration’s justification for its recent amnesty proposal: we’ve tried enforcement of entry laws, and it doesn’t work. No, responds Time: neither yours nor any previous administration has ever tried enforcement. And what is worse, notes the magazine, the recent amnesty proposal has served only to double the rate of illegal entry.

The lock on elite opinion has been broken. Let the debate begin.

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More by Heather Mac Donald:
De-policing New York
Cinderella Man
New York’s Welfare Reactionaries
More . . .
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