Supporting Illegal Immigration of Children, while Ignoring the Killing of Children with Drones, Bombers, and Special Forces

Stephen H. Unger
July, 18, 2018

Over the past several months more than 2 thousand children of illegal immigrants have been separated from their parents, who were held in custody. The children were confined in various makeshift camps. This was a traumatic experience for both children and parents. There has been an enormous amount of publicity about this on a daily basis. E.g., there were over 10 articles, letters, or comments about this in the 6/19/18 edition of the NY Times.

But there is virtually no discussion in the mass media of why millions of people have been coming here illegally over the past decade. No mention of how the US government has consistently supported corrupt and oppressive governments in the Americas that are making life miserable for so many people. Silence about the consequences to poor Americans of having to compete with desperately poor illegal immigrants for jobs in which they must work very hard, under bad conditions, for very low pay. No discussion of the consequences to the children of Americans who are unemployed as a result of illegal immigration. No discussion of the inevitable results of overpopulation due to uncontrolled immigration.

President Trump has terrible positions on some critical issues, such as the environment, and gross income inequality. Much of what he says about the illegal immigrant issue is questionable. But all the other political entities--including even the Green Party--are worse than Trump with respect to immigration. All of them, in effect, are in favor of open borders--no limits on immigration.

Immigration and the Environment

Note that, in addition to the detrimental effects on American workers, significant immigration is environmentally disastrous due to its effect on population. During my lifetime, the US population increased from 124 million to 327 million. The detrimental effects include serious water and soil problems.

Effect of Immigration on American Workers

Since President Trump took office the number of unauthorized border crossings has fallen, largely due to an increase in border security. Even so, 300,000 apprehensions in a year is a large number. We don't know how many people get thru undetected.

Re the claim of 4.5% unemployment (U-3 for June 2018) [1]. This is a rigged number. People working as little as 10 hours a week are counted as employed. People who have given up and stopped looking for jobs for 4 weeks are not counted as unemployed. There are millions in this group. The actual percentage of unemployed is now around 8.1% (U-6).

But unemployment numbers say nothing about the quality of jobs available, or pay rates. The availability of large numbers of people here illegally, who have no bargaining power and who are willing to work very hard for very little, forces Americans to accept the same miserable conditions. Employers prefer the illegals, who are necessarily very docile--often accepting wages below the legal minimum (the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, is very low)--and who work hard under poor conditions.

E-Verify is a US Department of Homeland Security website that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States [2]. An invaluable tool for preventing illegal immigrants from getting American jobs, it thereby encourages them to leave the country..

What Should We Do?

We should help poor people in other countries by supporting only decent governments, and by substantially expanding aid programs, such as the Peace Corps, designed to help poor people where they live.

We should at least double the minimum wage. In order to prevent the resulting necessary price increases from handicapping American manufacturers, we should simultaneously impose suitable tariffs on imports produced by grossly underpaid workers in other countries, such as China. This process would increase prices here for some items, but not by much; salaries usually represent a small proportion of consumer prices.

Those Americans who do get jobs in the categories often filled by illegals must accept the low wages that the illegals are happy to accept (and the same miserable working conditions). One consequence is that only about a quarter of jobs in agriculture are filled by American citizens. It is claimed by defenders of this system that Americans are not willing to work hard. But, if there were no immigrants available to work very hard under poor conditions, employers would have to increase pay and improve working conditions, using more machinery where appropriate.

Residents of other countries who enter the US illegally to find jobs, are committing a serious--not a "victimless"--crime. The victims are Americans, usually poor Americans, who have to compete with the intruders for jobs. The illegals are preferred by many, perhaps most, employers, because they are willing to work harder for less pay, under poor working conditions. Their illegal status makes them vulnerable to being cheated and paid even less than what they agreed to accept. To have any chance at all to get jobs, American workers must accept the same pay and working conditions as the illegals. The winners in this situation are the employers--often big corporations. (Many middle-class Americans also benefit, by having access to cheap labor for lawn maintenance, housekeeping chores, roof repairs, house painting, etc.)

How to Stop the Flow

When people are streaming over our borders by the hundreds of thousands, it is virtually impossible to catch most of them and bring them, in a timely manner, to court to deal with claims, often spurious, for asylum. Even a hundred thousand immigration cases in a year would overwhelm our courts. The actual number is far greater. Note that there are, literally, several billion people in the world, any one of whom would likely be better off economically in the US. Obviously we can't allow more than a very small number to come here. The most practical approach would be to require those claiming refugee status to apply for asylum before entering the country, and to be allowed into the country only if asylum is granted. This could be done, for example, via American consulate offices in the country of origin. Those caught entering illegally should not be considered for admission, and should be sent to large-scale prison camps, perhaps former military bases, pending deportation. Families could be kept together, and all of them entered into the E-Verify data base.

The government of Mexico should be held responsible for allowing people to invade the US over its Northern border. It would be reasonable to bill Mexico for the costs entailed in dealing with the illegal immigrants entering from the South. One might also ask why those who feel endangered in Latin-American countries, such as Honduras [3], should not seek refuge in countries such as Mexico, where, with respect to language and culture, they would fit in much more comfortably than in the US.

The great concern expressed by the media for child welfare seems to be very specialized. Incredibly, they seem to consider separating children of illegal immigrants from their parents to be far more serious than maiming or killing them! Children in the Middle East, e.g., in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan [4][5][6], have been the victims of American drones and bombers for years. Many tens of thousands have been killed or maimed, or made orphans when their parents have been killed. How often does the NY Times publish stories about children killed by American drones or bombers? The US government has carefully avoided gathering statistics on civilian casualties resulting from its actions [7]. It is obvious that many thousands of civilians have been killed, a substantial portion of them children. (Note that over a million North Korean civilians were killed by the US in the Korean War, and that several million civilians were killed by the US in the Indo-China War.)

Executions Without Trials

Apart from general casualties of bombing, some individuals have been singled out for special attention. President Obama convened a weekly meeting at which he, conferring with advisors, decided which individuals accused of being terrorists, would be targeted by drones. Note that these were not fighters being targeted in war zones, but people who were singled out by the president as hostile to the US, and then executed, with no semblance of due process.

A dramatic example was the targeted killing (September 30, 2011), by a drone in Yemen, of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, born in New Mexico. Two weeks later, his 16 year old son, and a 17 year old nephew, were among those killed by another drone [8]. On January 29, 2017 a special forces team in Yemen, killed Awlaki's 8-year old daughter, along with at least 7 other children and many adult civilians.

The fact that Awlaki's son, and nephew were killed by a drone illustrates that drone killings are not confined to combatants. And the killing of his little daughter, along with other non-combatants, indicates that the special forces teams are also killing a lot of innocent people. All this is in addition to many thousands of civilians being killed by conventional US bombers.

You can read numerous stories (often with pictures of little girls in distress), emotional columns, and letters to the editor every day in the NY Times about the children of illegal immigrants being taken into custody by border security forces. But you will seldom see stories in the news media about the many thousands of children killed by American soldiers or airmen in the Middle East. One might infer that being separated from their parents is a fate far worse than being killed (or maimed)!


[1] Tim McMahon, "Current U-6 Unemployment Rate", Unemploymentdata.Com, July 6, 2018

[2] Wikipedia, "E-Verify"

[3] Stephen Zunes, "The U.S. Role In The Honduras Coup And Subsequent Violence", Huffpost, June 19, 2016

[4] Juan Cole, "The American Genocide Against Iraq: 4% of Population Dead as result of US sanctions, wars", Informed Comment, 10/17/2013

[5] John Horgan, "Where Is Outcry Over Children Killed by U.S.-Led Forces?", Scientific American, September 10, 2015

[6] CNN Wire Staff, "Drone strikes kill, maim and traumatize too many civilians, U.S. study says", CNN, September 25, 2012

[7] Medea Benjamin, "America dropped 26,171 bombs in 2016. What a bloody end to Obama's reign", The Guardian, Jan. 9, 2017

[8] Glenn Greenwald, "Obama Killed a 16-Year-Old American In Yemen. Trump Just Killed his 8-Year-Old Sister", The Intercept, Jan. 30, 2017

Comments are welcomed and can be sent to me at unger(at)cs(dot)columbia(dot)edu

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