A lot of people have only one thought about mass deportation: “These people are here illegally, so they must be removed.” The reasons their presence is illegal or the consequences of removing them apparently don’t concern them. They’ll gladly help with any program of removal. Finding a way to discourage them, at least to reduce their enthusiasm, could save lives.
The left’s favored approach is to yell “Racist!” at them repeatedly. No doubt people think this ought to work, but so far its effectiveness has been limited. The election itself shows that.
I’ll admit that the approach which I find natural won’t work much better. I’d say that these people are living peacefully, earning a living, and being productive, that most of them overstayed their visas rather than sneaking across the border, and that the government is the aggressor in removing them. I’d draw analogies such as “illegal couples” in the Old South and ask if they should have been prosecuted simply because miscegenation laws existed. The reasoning is sound, but in most cases I’d get an answer like “So why didn’t they leave when their visas expired?”
But there’s another approach which could be more effective. That’s to talk about the human consequences of mass expulsion. One part of me says this won’t help; the pro-expulsion people would just say, “Who cares if illegals and anchor babies suffer?” But studies have shown that appealing to human sympathy generally works better than arguing abstract principles.
Yes, I just said in my last post that we should deal in principles, not personalities. But this isn’t about changing principles according to the people involved. It’s a way of concretizing the principles. People understand human stories more readily than abstractions.
We could talk, for example, about the Crystal City internment camp and how the United States treated ethnic Japanese, Germans, and Italians during World War II. Jan Jarboe Russell’s book does a splendid job of showing how individuals experienced being put into a prison camp for no crime. We can talk about the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II. Millions of people had to leave or couldn’t return, and by even the most conservative estimates thousands died in the process.
That approach will have limits, too. A lot of people have been seen accounts and videos of police violence and don’t care. Persistence can shift ideas in the long run, one person at a time; we’ve seen it on interracial marriage, marijuana, same-sex marriage, and other issues. Persuading people in time to avoid a disaster next year? That’s harder. But I think presenting the issue as human reality stands the best chance.
At least, it has to work better than denouncing opponents vociferously.