Trump needs to shut down the border, but not for commerce

American civilization, indeed Western civilization, faces an existential challenge much greater than Russian militarism, Chinese autocratic capitalism, and election tampering. Some 750 million people worldwide would like to migrate, mostly to the United States and Western Europe.

China and Southeast Asia have accomplished great economic progress but poor protection of human rights and too few opportunities to escape poverty remain endemic. In Latin America, conditions are even worse as failing economies, rampant violence, religious fundamentalism, and gang rule manufacture state entropy. During the 19th century and early 20th century, the expense and physical difficulties of picking up and leaving made an open immigration policy not particularly threatening in America. The European origins of most immigrants, other than the Chinese who came to work on the railroads, made assimilation easier back then.


The radical liberals who have now captured the Democratic Party, mainstream media, and university faculties refuse to admit it, but European ideals about the value of the individual and the efficacy of democracy and free markets made America possible. In particular, those very values cemented our national prosperity and political freedoms. If immigration is not to dilute these, America must acculturate new arrivals to those values or risk an Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezPhiladelphia mayor: Trump would 'go to hell' if he had to go back to where he came from Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout The four Republicans who voted to condemn Trump's tweets MORE tyranny that lowers worsening conditions in places like Chicago to those in Caracas.

Overall, immigrants certainly bring much needed science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills, and entrepreneurs and make the United States richer, something academic economists rant like chorus in a Soviet opera. But what conservatives on campuses are not permitted to even whisper is that immigration also lowers the real wages of native workers in less skilled occupations. For example, wages in Iowa meat packing plants have stagnated at $16 an hour for four decades now.

Milton Friedman observed that we cannot have open borders and the modern welfare state. Simply half of immigrants to the United States are poorly educated and qualify for means tested entitlements. Absorbing four million or more poor folks each year would bankrupt state budgets. The rewards for investing and innovating make capitalism run, but those beget inequality. Our compact to keep the engine going is a robust social safety net. We can debate how much, but not whether it is needed.

Illegal entrants at the southern border, most declaring asylum and many totting children, jumped to about 100,000 apprehensions last month, according to officials. The word is out as Congress and the federal courts have President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE in a bind, and he must either let them in or close the border entirely. If he does not, then millions will follow and overwhelm the social safety net, deprive native citizens of reasonable economic security, and inspire more rampant disaffection with democracy and capitalism.

Like all societies, the United States depends on schools to teach children our values and the efficacy of our political and economic arrangements. Unfortunately, liberal authoritarianism endemic to American universities denigrates the character and values of white Europeans who established our republic and flat out teaches socialism is good and free markets are bad. It endorses the idea that the government owes everyone not just a helping hand to become productive, but an income for life if they do not care to exert themselves to acquire a useful skill or even work at all.

Those universities with their obsessions are training our teachers to diss our culture as exploitative. Too many immigrants and children of recent arrivals leave high school these days identifying more with their country of origin than when they started their education. Democrats see electoral advantage in championing open borders, de facto naturalization, and voting rights for those who enter illegally. Those are the surest ways to turn the working class into an angry mob conveniently aligned with cynical liberal critics of free enterprise and constitutional democracy.

Business leaders tell us terrible tales about the commercial consequences that will follow if President Trump closes the southern border and disrupts supply chains. Cowed by the media speech police, executives neglect to relate one simple truth. President Trump can shut down the border to the movement of people but continue to permit the flow of the commercial vehicles carrying goods and air travel for business. That would keep the economy flowing, but not the hungry horde. Until such time as Democrats in Congress and liberal judges stop impeding reasonable immigration enforcement, closing the southern border is the only reasonable answer.

Peter Morici is an economist and professor at the University of Maryland.