Finally, a moment in a Presidential debate that I've been waiting for since 2000
: the Death Ground Immigration Question got asked.
The "Death Ground
" is an interesting concept developed by the classical Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu
: it's the point where you have no options but to fight or die. In the immigration debate, it means confronting immigration enthusiasts with the fact that immigration imposes very real costs on specific groups of Americans—something they never acknowledge, ultimately because the consensus among labor economists
has long been that the costs at least match the benefits
, which however go to very different groups of Americans a.k.a. donors
This was the question asked in the Fox Business debate Thursday night
MARIA BARTIROMO: Senator Rubio?(APPLAUSE)Under current law, the U.S. is on track to issue more new permanent immigrants on green cards over the next five years than the entire population of South Carolina. The CBO says your 2013 immigration bill would have increased green cardholders by another 10 million over 10 years.Why are you so interested in opening up borders to foreigners when American workers have a hard enough time finding work?
It's profoundly significant that Marco Rubio
made absolutely no attempt to answer—he just ran away as fast as he could, a comic spectacle that's worth savoring at length:
RUBIO: Well, first of all, this is an issue that's been debated now for 30 years. And for 30 years, the issue of immigration has been about someone who's in this country, maybe they're here illegally, but they're looking for a job. This issue is not about that anymore.First and foremost, this issue has to be now more than anything else about keeping America safe. And here's why. There is a radical jihadist group that is manipulating our immigration system. And not just green cards. They're looking — they're recruiting people that enter this country as doctors and engineers and even fiances. They understand the vulnerabilities we have on the southern border.They're looking — they're looking to manipulate our — the visa waiver countries to get people into the United States. So our number one priority must now become ensuring that ISIS cannot get killers into the United States. So whether it's green cards or any other form of entry into America, when I'm president if we do not know who you are or why you are coming, you are not going to get into the United States of America.BARTIROMO: So your thinking has changed?RUBIO: The issue is a dramatically different issue than it was 24 months ago. Twenty-four months ago, 36 months ago, you did not have a group of radical crazies named ISIS who were burning people in cages and recruiting people to enter our country legally. They have a sophisticated understanding of our legal immigration system and we now have an obligation to ensure that they are not able to use that system against us.The entire system of legal immigration must now be reexamined for security first and foremost, with an eye on ISIS. Because they're recruiting people to enter this country as engineers, posing as doctors, posing as refugees. We know this for a fact. They've contacted the trafficking networks in the Western Hemisphere to get people in through the southern border. And they got a killer in San Bernardino in posing as a fiance.This issue now has to be about stopping ISIS entering the United States, and when I'm president we will.
CIS' Mark Krikorian
, in his demolition of Rubio's response
, regrets that Rubio "got away with it," but he really didn't—Senator Ted Cruz instantly cut him down:
CRUZ: But Maria, radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago; 24 months ago, we had Al Qaida. We had Boko Haram. We had Hamas. We had Hezbollah. We had Iran putting operatives in South America and Central America. It's the reason why I stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King and led the fight to stop the Gang of Eight Amnesty bill, because it was clear then, like it's clear now, that border security is national security.
This provoked even more frantic flailing from Rubio, which—shamelessly and again significantly—included an attack on Cruz for supporting increased legal immigration (a position he has since repudiated
The exchange was truncated before Cruz could return to the economic costs of immigration (which he has shown he understands
). But it went on long enough to show that the immigration enthusiasts are all too aware they can't defend themselves. If forced on to the Death Ground, they must die.