The World Cannot Afford an Unserious America


March 14, 2024

By Brian Lonergan

The 20th century, for all its faults, tragedies, and tyrants, at least had one thing to keep things from going completely off the rails. The United States of America, by virtue of its strong economy and even stronger military, was a serious actor that kept a manageable order in the world even as critics accused it of heavy-handedness.

Today, with visible signs that the United States in decline—largely from self-inflicted wounds—our citizens and the world are discovering what results from an unserious, self-loathing America. It is a hellish present with even less hope for future generations.

What constitutes a serious country? One characteristic would be that it clearly defines and protects its sovereign borders from harmful outside forces. On that count, America is failing badly. The number is rapidly increasing, but approximately 8 million foreign nationals have illegally entered the United States from its northern and southern borders since January 2021. 

Among that number are 294 individuals apprehended at the southern border who are on the government’s terror watchlist. Of course, this number only accounts for those who have been caught by Border Control agents. In the last three years there also have been nearly 2 million “gotaways” —those who evade border agents and melt into U.S. communities. Thanks to our government’s refusal to secure our border, the idea of America being protected from outside threats by vast oceans on either side and non-threatening neighbors to our north and south has become a bygone notion from a nearly forgotten era.

As is the case with too many problems in America today, the current path of tolerating and encouraging illegal migration is not sustainable.

A serious country would also value its children and do everything possible to protect them from harm. Our leaders, instead, have utterly failed in this obligation by surrendering our borders. This has resulted in a booming child-trafficking business from Mexico into the U.S., as well as a tidal wave of fentanyl and other illicit drugs into our communities. Fentanyl, largely manufactured in Mexico with materials shipped from China, has become the leading cause of death among U.S. adults 18-45 years old.

Despite the focus group-tested rhetoric from our political leaders, all Americans live today with greater threats to their lives—especially women and children.

Since our government unofficially invited the world to break into America, there has been an alarming growth in the number of Angel families—those who have lost loved ones due to the actions of people here illegally. For the few who have received attention—Kate Steinle, Mollie Tibbets, Sarah Root—there are hundreds, maybe thousands of others whose families grieve in anonymity, as our political elites and corporate media coldly dismiss their pain.  

Faced with these tragedies, reasonable people are outraged and loudly proclaim “never again.” Anti-borders activists are not impressed, however, and toss about red-herring arguments such as suggesting these crimes would take place in America even without “newcomers.” This must be cold comfort for Angel families, who must live with the reality that their son or daughter is no longer alive solely because of someone who should never have been in the country. 

This feckless, insufficient response to the deaths of our children appears to have reached peak derangement with the murder of nursing student Laken Riley in Georgia. The circumstances leading to her death could not be clearer. Her alleged killer entered the country illegally. He was picked up in New York on a child endangerment charge, but avoided deportation due to the city’s sanctuary policies. Looking to flee New York, he settled in the college town of Athens, Georgia, another sanctuary community. Absent the scourge of sanctuary ideology, Riley unquestionably would be alive today.

With an obvious cause and an even more obvious solution of ending sanctuary policies, how do our elected leaders respond? By expressing regret that the president referred to her alleged killer as an “illegal” and blocking proposals that would detain other illegal aliens charged with violent crimes. One congressman blamed Riley’s death on the lack of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities for aliens, a pointless argument since New York defied requests to transfer Riley’s alleged killer to ICE in accordance with their sanctuary policy, anyway.

Given the seriousness of the threat, these reactions are akin to Byzantine scholars debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin while the Turks besieged Constantinople. It’s that absurd.

As is the case with too many problems in America today, the current path of tolerating and encouraging illegal migration is not sustainable. The world and U.S. citizens in particular need a serious America, and that starts with our leaders and policies. We must demand better from both or America as we know it will perish.   

Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) in Washington, D.C, and co-host of IRLI’s “No Border, No Country” podcast.

Also published at Chronicles, March 14, 2024.

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