So Elon Musk — who’s had some success in life — uses the “first principle” approach to problem solving:
Boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, ‘OK, what are we sure is true, or as sure as possible is true?’ And then reason up from there.
Let’s try Elon’s approach with the current migrant disaster. Here are five things we know for sure:
1. Our country has benefited, and likely will continue to benefit, from a steady flow of legal immigration;
2. Our current political asylum law has a huge loophole that allows applicants to remain here for years as their case awaits a hearing. Roughly 85% of these claims will be denied — but the claimants won’t leave.
Further, our asylum law grants Venezuelans, Cubans, Haitians (and a few others) special status to enter the country without even having to ask for political asylum – it’s assumed.
3. Criminals commit crimes; a country is better with less criminals.
4. With mass migration comes increased crime. Block out all the noise for a moment — here’s the fact referred to in the headline: in 2019, before the current open-border policy, 67% of all federal arrests were related to immigrants in some way.
5. We have an immigration/crime problem – both parties now agree on this, though it took the Democrats facing political annihilation to finally admit it.
The United States is seeing an unprecedented increase in crime (in both nature and numbers). Gangs that were not here before are now here, and they’re bringing with them their disrespect for law and order.
We are seeing pickpocket crews from Venezuela; shoplifting teams from Colombia and Mexico; migrant burglary rings; sophisticated, organized thieves on mopeds; Venezuelan sex traffickers branding women.… You get the point.
It’s not hyperbole — this is happening.
So: What to do with these five truths?
The simple answer: Continue legal immigration, but close the loophole in the political asylum law so that we don’t continue to (inadvertently) admit criminals. Nobody gets in until they prove they qualify for asylum.
The Senate’s answer: Codify the loophole in the political asylum law and create a massive new administrative apparatus; address the war in the Middle East; add the China/Taiwan issue; add the centuries-old dispute between Russia and Ukraine.
When people in government and the public sphere wonder why U.S. voters have lost faith in our institutions, here’s Exhibit A. Forget the actual merits of the bill for a moment. Did the Senate really believe, in the current climate, that there would be an agreement to admit 150,000 asylum seekers per month?
And the belief that a sound method for this was to hinge it to some of the world’s oldest conflicts? A standalone bill that addressed asylum wasn’t a tall enough order?
So why was it done this way?
To be honest: I’m not really sure. I get why President Biden wanted it, of course —it allows him to mitigate a vulnerability in an election year. But why would Senate Republicans agree to something guaranteed to be DOA? When they hold the leverage?
Look, I get that bipartisanship is a political reality, and it’s the only way we move forward. But the first lesson any child learns is that his actions have consequences. As General Colin Powell once said: “You break it, you own it.”
Biden broke it — that has to matter. So he owns it, and the simple fix is there for him. Both legally and diplomatically, he has had the ability to just close the border, as even his staunch ally The Washington Post agrees.
So: What now?
Mister President, here’s a suggested way out of the corner you’ve painted yourself into: Use Executive Order to close the loophole now. Before all else, stop the bleeding.Suspend all new asylum claims. Then publicize that internationally.
That would be a version of Remain-in-Mexico in all but name — allowing you to deny that you are simply reinstituting a Trump initiative.
Were the President to do that, it would show that he is serious, and that he gave a bit. It would also undoubtedly give him a bump in public opinion on the issue.
A presser where he simply announced this, and then pressed forward on a real bill — one without all the add-ons— would grant him the high ground on the issue. Simply put: He’d look like he was doing something.
But as a taxpayer, I must reiterate: We need a bipartisan, standalone border bill. And we also need to address funding for overseas conflicts that implicate our interests and alliances.
But for God’s sake, turn off the migrant spigot first. Then we’ll talk.