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The Martha's Vineyard Imbroglio
A mere 50 migrants and everyone loses their minds.
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Thoughts and prayers for the people of the monochromatic and utterly homogenous Martha's Vineyard — where the median home price is over $1,000,000 and 80% of residents voted for Biden — who were forced to deal with 50 illegal immigrants showing up the other day courtesy of Ron DeSantis. It took a mere 24 hours before state officials called in 125 National Guard to remove these migrants from an ultra wealthy Massachusetts enclave. Think about that.
Texas governor Greg Abbott and Florida governor Ron DeSantis are giving Democrats just a tiny, tiny taste of the border crisis, and it's led to some apoplectic reactions. Via the Operation Lone Star initiative, Texas has sent buses of illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities with Democratic mayors—most recently, to Kamala Harris’s residence in Washington, D.C. This, as DeSantis sent two planes carrying illegal immigrants to MV.
After Abbott sent just a few buses to Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot accused him of “manufacturing a human crisis.” Oh, the irony. Chicago advertises itself as a welcoming home to individuals with no legal status to reside in the US. Lightfoot has said that Abbot's Operation Lone Star is “un-American” and “racist,” which doesn't really make sense. How does routing migrants to a city that welcomes them qualify as such?
Meanwhile, in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams gave a press conference appealing to the Biden administration: “We need the federal government’s help—money, technical assistance, and more.”
Abbott responded, “I hope [Adams] follows through on his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief.”
In Washington, D.C., yet another sanctuary city, Mayor Muriel Bowser responded to a few bus loads of migrants by admitting “Our ability to assist people in need at this scale is very limited,” before declaring a public-health emergency.
Washington D.C. and El Paso have similar populations. Bowser is currently claiming that they're dealing with a crisis because over the past six months, 7,000 migrants have been given bus tickets to go there. Meanwhile, in El Paso, the feds are forced to release 1,000 migrants a week.
Note well, however, that it’s only wrong when Republicans do this:
I'm already on record as saying that I think bussing/flying illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities is a brilliant move by Abbott and DeSantis, and that the reactions do a better job than any other tactic of exposing that the people with “All Are Welcome” yard signs are really imposing onto others the consequences of their pious virtue signaling.
The MV debacle has been wildly successful in this regard. You don't exactly have to be an inveterate political operative to ascertain that the point of this “stunt” wasn't to show that the rich white liberals of New England would mistreat these illegal immigrants, but that forcing them to deal with a mere 50 illegal immigrants would provoke a huge mobilization (they called in the National Guard, for God's sake), with the implied contrast of the Biden administration refusing to help border communities dealing with 8,000 a day. It is absolutely a stunt, but it’s one that has successfully highlighted that there's an ongoing crisis that the Biden administration has exacerbated, and that the preening sanctimonious moralizers don't care about illegal immigration or the consequences until it slightly affects them.
The people of Eagle Pass, Texas are probably just as kind and generous as the people of MV. If the Vineyard freaked out over 50, what do you think is happening when 450,0001 show up in Eagle Pass? ⬇
Some shmuck named Ken Burns likened this episode to the rise of the Nazis (because of course), saying that the relocation of migrants is “straight out of the authoritarian playbook.” Far from it. These migrants are never shipped off against their will. They literally sign waivers and pick which city they want to go to.2 While many within the mainstream media compare DeSantis to Hitler, the truth is that the migrants who arrived in MV are grateful to him for sending them, and that they wanted to stay—but were promptly expelled.
It cannot be lost on the average voter that there was absolutely spastic coverage of 50 migrants showing up in MV for a single day, while much poorer border towns receive zero coverage and no help and local residents are practically suffocating in illegal immigrants. The most ridiculous part of this whole affair was that the uber-rich, snow-white residents of MV created a GoFundMe that raised over $40,000—and the migrants were there for a single day! The organizer is an Ivy League alum and New York communications executive who donated six times to Kamala Harris. Her wedding on MV was featured by the New York Times, and her family's $1.6 million home there sits near a private association beach.
The reaction of this progressive enclave and the corporate media has proven that requests for resources and assistance at the border by Republican governors are rational responses from leaders charged with maintaining order within their jurisdictions.
A Flashpoint in the Class War
The Martha’s Vineyard episode has laid bare that rich, white progressives love policies that make them feel good about themselves, but only so long as they benefit from them economically while the working class pays for it. This is why the debate over immigration policy and our porous southern border is best understood through the lens of labor, as immigration has always been a flash point in the class war between managerial elites and the working class.
Elites living in states with urban hubs personally benefit from lax enforcement of immigration laws. According to Pew Research Center, immigrants make up nearly half of all household servants in the US, and are employed by a relatively small number of affluent households. As Lynn Stuart Parramore writes for Salon, “A big chunk of the wealthy is happy to support mass immigration of cheap labor so that these workers can continue to be underpaid.”
The sanctuary city laws forbidding local law enforcement from collaborating with federal officials in identifying and deporting illegal immigrants — laws which are touted by the Left as benevolence made manifest — save money for managerial elites by maintaining their access to local pools of low-wage, untaxed, unregulated housekeeping and nannies, as well as other luxury service labor that allows college-educated professionals to maintain their privileged lifestyles. By one estimate, 90% of nannies in New York City are paid off the books by employers who ignore employment rules and tax laws.
New America's Michael Lind notes that a more or less constant influx of illegal immigrants also serves to maintain the populations, economies, and real estate prices of urban hubs. Because of how unaffordable big cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are, there's been a decades-long net outflow of legal citizens. If it weren't for this steady stream of illegal immigrants, New York City, for example, would’ve lost population and its property tax base would’ve shrunk by $500 billion over the past thirty years. Absent perpetual repopulation from abroad, cities like New York and San Francisco could very well slide into economic decline because the labor market would tighten.
The “luxury industries” so essential to sanctuary city economies would cost more in a tight labor market, while urban real estate prices might tumble, with disastrous consequences for the wealth of local elites. If forced to pay higher wages to their servants, more and more elites would likely be forced to leave their beloved sanctuary cities as well. Conversely, securing the border and curtailing low-wage immigration would help working-class Americans employed by the production and mass-service industries of the heartland. Unlike the affluent white liberals who reside in sanctuary cities, these folks can't afford foreign-born nannies, housekeepers, and landscapers.
Opposition to illegal immigration by native white working-class workers is often dismissed as bigotry. And yet, if this were the case then these bigots should be just as hostile to educated nonwhite immigrants as they are to low-wage nonwhite immigrants. But this isn't so. The determining factor in one's attitude toward immigration is class. Less-educated workers are more likely to favor immigration restriction than more-educated workers.
As it happens, there's broad cross-class support in favor of skilled rather than unskilled immigration, which is why there's never been significant backlash against East Asian and South Asian immigrants, who tend to be college-educated professionals. The backlash is almost always against less-skilled and disproportionately poor Latin American immigrants, even though Asian immigrants are nonwhite as well. This difference in attitude is explained by split labor market theory, which holds that native working-class backlash is always greatest against particular groups of immigrants, regardless of skin color or ethnicity, who are viewed as competitors for jobs or welfare and public services.
It’s simply not in the nation's interest to continue importing lesser skilled and unskilled workers to compete in the most vulnerable parts of our labor force. The sooner we acknowledge this, the better.