Victor Davis Hanson

Some 11 million to 15 million illegal aliens are now residing in America, most after crossing into America unlawfully. Once a federal law is arbitrarily not enforced, all sorts of bizarre paradoxes arise from that original contradiction. As proof, examine the following illogical policies and contradictions involving illegal immigration.

Take, for example, profiling -- the controversial questioning of those who appear likely to be illegal aliens. Apparently, American border guards have developed criteria for profiling those deemed likely to be unlawful aliens. Otherwise, how would they have arrested and deported hundreds of thousands in 2009?

Yet apparently, at some arbitrary point distant from the border, those who cross illegally are not supposed to be asked about their immigration status. OK, but exactly why did procedures so radically change at, say, five, 10, 20, or is it 100 miles from the border? A border patrolman often profiles, but a nearby highway patrolman cannot?

The federal government is suing Arizona for the state's efforts to enforce the federal immigration law. The lawsuit alleges that Arizona is too zealous both in enforcing immigration law and encroaching on federal jurisdiction.

But wait -- for years, several American cities have declared themselves sanctuary cities. City officials have even bragged that they would not allow their municipalities to enforce federal immigration statutes. So why does Washington sue a state that seeks to enhance federal immigration laws and yet ignore cities that blatantly try to erode them?

Something is going very wrong in Mexico to prompt more than half a million of its citizens to cross the border illegally each year. Impoverished Mexican nationals variously cite poor economic conditions back home, government corruption, a lack of social services, and racism. In other words, it is not just the desirability of America but also the perceived undesirability of Mexico that explains one of largest mass exoduses in modern history.

But why, then, would Mexican President Felipe Calderon, whose country's conditions are forcing out its own citizens, criticize the United States, which is receiving so many of them? And why, for that matter, would many of those illegal immigrants identify, if only symbolically, with the country that made them leave, whether by waving its flag or criticizing the attitudes of the Americans who took them in?

And how does Mexico treat the hundreds of thousands of aliens who seek to illegally cross its own southern border with Central America each year? Does Mexico believe in sovereign borders to its south but not to its north?


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.