By: John Hayward
Back in the Sixties, Marxists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven came up with a great strategy for overloading and collapsing democratic welfare states, paving the way for socialist tyranny. Basically, the idea was to hit the system with a tidal wave of demands it couldn’t refuse, and couldn’t possibly fulfill. The Left would then insist that the moral argument for the system remained intact, so the only way to meet those impossible demands was to scrap every vestige of Constitutional restraint and republican self-government, instituting a totalitarian system that in theory would forcibly restructure society to promote “fairness” and give all those government dependents what they “deserve.” (In practice, of course, what you actually get is an iron-fisted dictatorship that cooks up reports to make itself look good, or simply tells the unhappy citizens to shut up and obey when things deteriorate to the point that no volume of phony reports can paper over the problems – say, when the glorious worker’s paradise of Venezuela runs out of tap water.)
Cloward and Piven were specifically interested in replacing welfare programs with a government-guaranteed annual income for everyone – an idea that still emerges from the more absurd quarters of the Left occasionally – but the basic idea of overloading the republican system and replacing it with centrally-planned tyranny can be applied in many different ways. Take a look at the humanitarian crisis on the southern border, which I wrote about two weeks ago. It has since burst onto the front pages with some astonishing stories, including leaked photos of illegal alien children – many of them 12 years old and younger – “warehoused” in overcrowded facilities, where there are growing concerns about sanitation and disease. CBS News in Houston writes of unaccompanied minors sleeping on plastic boards in a Nogales, Arizona warehouse after being flown in from south Texas. According to some estimates, there are nearly a thousand children in that warehouse now.
There’s nothing complicated about what is happening here. Barack Obama invited these people to send their children to the United States as refugees. He’s already made illegal use of executive orders to gut the immigration system; he’s talking about doing it again, and the people of South and Central America can hear him just fine. There have been anecdotal reports of a message being spread throughout Central American countries, by everything from word-of-mouth gossip to news media: “Go to America with your child, you won’t be turned away.” It will come as no surprise to learn that the Mexican government is not doing much to halt the train of amnesty-seekers headed for American soil. On the contrary, corrupt Mexican officials are trying to get a cut of the profits from the refugee-smuggling trade.
And it’s not just the President sending those signals, since there’s a vibrant bipartisan amnesty chorus in Congress. Obama will only seize power to rewrite the laws if Congress doesn’t do it fast enough for his taste, or if he sees electoral advantage in taking matters into his own hands.
Young illegals are particularly cherished by the American ruling class, which has dubbed them “Dreamers” and frankly describes them as superior in motivation and potential to native-born young people. There is every reason for families who live in South America to think their children will be given citizenship, plus special perks (such as access to discounted college tuition rates) if they can get them to the U.S. border. The Obama Administration is even talking about providing the young illegals with attorneys. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has become involved at President Obama’s direction.
This tidal wave of illegals is not an accident, and not entirely a result of conditions in Central America (which have deteriorated lately, but were already bad enough to inspire any sane person to seek a new life elsewhere.) These people were summoned. And now that they’re here, the system is collapsing beneath their weight. In addition to the refugees flown to Arizona in the CBS News story above, the El Paso Times reports two planeloads of illegals arriving for processing. “The vast majority of individuals transferred were family units from Central America and Mexico with children,” according to an El Paso official.
Contrary to popular mythology about President Obama being some sort of deportation hard-liner, the truth is that most of his “deportations” were actually catch-and-release scenarios played out at the border – people who were essentially repulsed rather than caught and deported. Such people were not counted as “deportations” in the past – remember what I said about the government cooking the books to make itself look better? Well, catch-and-release only works when the illegal aliens in question come from Mexico. There’s no practical method for sending the wave of families and unaccompanied minors surging in from Central America back to their homes. They’re most likely here to stay. And even though the Obama Administration had every reason to know they were coming, the immigration system was curiously unprepared to deal with them. Cloward-Piven tactics work even better when the system is hollowed out and made ready for speedy collapse.
Does the amnesty chorus recoil from this humanitarian crisis in shame and ask, “My God, what have we done?” Do they accept this stunning proof of a point often raised by amnesty critics: lax border security and indulgence of illegal immigration causes the flood of illegal aliens – rational people who respond to incentives – to intensify? Of course not. They’re using the horror they have created as leverage to get amnesty moving even faster. So they’re specifically portraying the very same incentives that brought the flood of minors to our border as a point of agreement from which a deal can be built. And note Rev. Ryscavage’s portrayal of many amnesty demands as part of a bidding process designed to wear down those who take citizenship and border security seriously. The White House is “asking for a lot of stuff that privately they don’t think they’re going to get,” so when they get what they really wanted all along, it’ll be portrayed as a bipartisan compromise, opposed only by extremists. Â They won’t be shy about pointing to the very humanitarian crisis they have deliberately created to argue that their demands must be immediately met – a tactic that will further exhaust resistance from those who are already weary of being slandered as cruel xenophobes, and holding the line against an amnesty demand the Beltway-media complex portrays as inevitable.
Soon we’ll have millions of new citizens placing heavy demands on our maternal government, with hundreds of thousands more streaming in every year, eager to claim the prizes that have been offered to them. The governments that mismanage the nations from which these poor souls are fleeing will feel even less pressure to make things better – they’re happy to use the United States as a dumping ground for excess population. The Cloward-Piven effect will spread inward from the border, and outward into every aspect of our centralized system. If you think the bleating about “income inequality” is bad now, wait until you hear what it sounds like after a few years of tidal-wave migration – especially if it’s combined with minimum-wage hikes that make it difficult to hire the new arrivals, and a regulatory morass that makes it hard to launch or expand businesses that might hire them. And you won’t have to wait long for ObamaCare’s planned collapse into ruin, paving the way for single-payer health care.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) had it exactly right, in an interview he granted to Breitbart Texas:
“We need a president who is willing to uphold the law,” Cruz said. “On issue after issue the Obama Administration has openly ignored, defied, and unilaterally tried to change the law. With respect to securing the border, the Obama Administration has handcuffed the courageous men and women who serve in Border Patrol. Morale in ICE is at an all-time low because the political operatives leading this Administration are preventing them from doing their job and upholding the law.”
He continued, “Just a few months before the last election the president illegally and unconstitutionally granted amnesty to some 800,000 people illegally. If the president wants to change federal immigration laws, the Constitution lays out a way to do so–you go and make your case to Congress and you convince Congress to change the laws…unfortunately for President Obama, following the Constitutional structure is apparently too cumbersome. One of the consequences were seeing on the border is a humanitarian crisis that is a direct consequence of Obama’s lawlessness.”
What’s happening on our southern border right now is horrifying, but it’s not unexpected. The people who caused it will never feel an instant of remorse for what they’ve done. And they’ll grow increasingly less interested in what the legal citizens of the United States have to say about immigration policy. What’s your plan for dealing with the thousands of unaccompanied minors who are being shipped to our doorstep?
Update: Another thought that occurred to me while discussing this post with Jim Vicevich on the radio this morning: if the Administration had taken steps to prepare for the wave of refugees it knew was coming – and make no mistake, it knew, because if nothing else, we have a national-security apparatus that monitors such things – they would have looked really bad at a crucial moment in last year’s immigration debate. “Hey, why are you guys building huge refugee centers in south Texas…?”
But this way, the situation is dropped in our laps as a done deal, a fait accompli. They’re here, they can’t be deported, there’s nothing we can do except give the amnesty chorus at least part of what it wants. Turning this into a deliberate humanitarian crisis was a political power play. Imagine the tenor of our “national conversation” on immigration if the Administration had forthrightly informed the American people that hundreds of thousands of unaccompanied minors were being flung at the border, obliging the government to spend millions preparing to receive them… and it was largely happening because their parents had every reason to believe they would be well-received.
Update: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer responded angrily to these Cloward-Piven tactics, as the feds begin dumping illegal immigrants from Texas into her state without warning her first. When she complained, the feds said they have no intention of stopping.
Fox News: “Federal officials told Brewer Friday that the practice will continue for the foreseeable future, and this weekend more than 1,000 illegal immigrant children will be â€œdumpedâ€ in Arizona. Adults and family units will also arrive, though Brewer was not told how many, her office said.”
“This is a crisis of the federal governments creation, and the fact that the border remains unsecure“ now apparently intentionally – while this operation continues full-steam ahead is deplorable,” said Brewer. Exactly, Governor. Just wait until you’re told you must comply with various Washington directives in order to receive federal assistance for the man-made humanitarian crisis that just got dumped in Arizona’s lap.