Even as border crossings have plummeted and interior arrests have soared since inauguration of the president — due, no doubt, both to his tough campaign talk and his unshackling of federal immigration agents through executive orders — there are warning signs that we may be sliding back toward the Washington business-as-usual mentality of unacknowledged virtually open borders where legal immigration is concerned.
First there was the cave-in on budget negotiations in which provisions maintaining controversial accounting methods for the notorious H-2B program for unskilled workers got slipped into the short-term appropriations bill, along with a reprieve of the corrupt and useless EB-5 "investor" visa program.
Then there was the deeply disturbing incident involving the sister of Jared Kushner (son-in-law and advisor to the president) pimping his name and connection to the White House in presentations to EB-5 investors in China.
And then we find that Mr. Trump is alleged to have promised Big Agriculture that they have nothing to fear from his administration where immigration enforcement and unfettered access to high-volume temporary worker programs are concerned.
Now there are the rumors that Trump may be favorably disposed toward the ENLIST Act, a bill that would give illegal aliens the right to enlist in return for green cards — a poor idea that has been floated before without success, and that has been panned as unnecessary by distinguished retired military service members. No wonder, given that present enlistment programs are working just fine at keeping the armed forces supplied with excellent candidates, and indeed turn away many American citizen applicants for inability to meet the high physical, mental, emotional, and educational standards the military is able to maintain. Why compromise those standards to open the doors to aliens whose very presence in the country is illegal, who may or may not speak competent English, and who cannot easily or inexpensively be adequately vetted (as we have seen again and again and again)?
As our Executive Director, Mark Krikorian, recently discussed, none of these things is necessarily a betrayal, per se, by Mr. Trump of his vocal base of immigration restrictionists, given his campaign remarks about big, beautiful doors inside the big, beautiful (unfunded) wall. But it's going to feel like one.
How could they see it otherwise if the market is flooded with hundreds of thousands of cheap foreign laborers on the bottom and middle, and with fat-cat foreign "entrepreneurs" at the top, despite all of the president's campaign rhetoric and promises to open up new jobs for un- and under-employed Americans?
The short-term problem seems to be that he thought everything could be done by executive orders and, having discovered that isn't true and that he needs the help of recalcitrant congressional Republicans — including those of the "more is better" immigration school like Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) — the president appears to be inclined to give these foxes the run of the henhouse where guestworker and other "legal" immigration programs are concerned, perhaps in the belief that they will then support him in his other endeavors.
The long-term problem, though, is that whether he wishes to acknowledge it or not, Donald Trump's base did indeed "hire" the president not just to eliminate illegal immigration, but to rein in an out-of-control legal immigration system that brings in 1.5 million aliens annually, thus depressing wages at the lower end of the economic ladder, and making jobs difficult to find in the middle of the ladder, particularly for new college graduates seeking employment in certain industries (such as information technology) that have relied heavily on in-sourcing of long-term guestworkers who underbid them to get those jobs.
And then there are those millionaires and billionaires buying green cards in corrupt programs that in truth employ nobody in any meaningful, direct, or permanent way. They merely serve as a plentiful source of funds to real estate and business developers. Many of these investment projects have proved to be fraudulent, and many others didn't get built or finished. The program is riddled like the proverbial Swiss cheese with lawsuits, prosecutions, and civil enforcement actions.
You just can't square the circle between continuing unfettered access to massive guestworker and investment programs by greedy employers and shady project-selling middlemen on one hand and, on the other, giving the people who constitute Mr. Trump's base a fair shot at good jobs with decent pay.
Lose your base, Mr. President, and you will be a one-term president. There is no art of the deal in which you can maintain their trust and confidence while giving way to congressional Democrats and Republicans who are catering to those employers and middlemen, who don't believe in your agenda anyway, and who will in the end drop you like a hot potato at the first sign of trouble. The warning signs are already there, are they not?