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Rep. Ilhan Omar Represents Everything Wrong With America’s Immigration System

Ilhan Omar speaks in Congress
Image CreditCNN/YouTube

Immigration and border policy should first serve the interests of Americans, to the exclusion of all other peoples and nations.

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There’s a clip going around of Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar talking to a group of Somalians about her allegiances and priorities as a U.S. congresswoman. What Omar says is instructive, not just about her general worldview but mostly (and more importantly) about how backward and destructive our immigration system is.

Omar is a woman of the left, but her speech over the weekend was pure blood-and-soil nationalism — for Somalia, not America.

She tells them she’s a Somalian first and a Muslim second. She doesn’t even mention the United States or her citizenship here. She promises to use her power and influence in Congress to protect her nation’s interests. (Again, that nation being Somalia, not America.)

Speaking in Somali, Omar tells the cheering crowd that her “top priority” is to expand Somalia’s territory. “As Somalis, one day we will go after our missing territories,” she says, referencing disputed regions in Kenya and Ethiopia.

She brags that the U.S. government “will only do what Somalians in the U.S. tell them to do. They will do what we want and nothing else. They must follow our orders, and that is how we will safeguard the interest of Somalia. We Somalians must have the confidence in ourselves that we call the shots in the U.S.”

In light of Omar’s candidness, it’s fair to ask: Why is she allowed to serve in Congress? Why is she even allowed to remain in the United States? Omar is an immigrant and a U.S. citizen, but clearly she is not an American. She appears to have no allegiance to her adopted country — a country that took her in, sheltered and protected her, provided a safe haven from the chaos and violence of her homeland, and elevated her to a position of power and influence.

Omar herself is of course an antisemite and a radical leftist. Her remarks are only important because they illustrate how her presence in the United States is a searing indictment of our entire immigration system and much of our foreign policy over the last 40 years. We should never have allowed people like her into our country, and by “people like her” I don’t have race in mind. I mean people whose national allegiances lie with other lands and other people, and whose priorities and way of life are incompatible with American republicanism and our national character.

All of this is salient now as the border descends into mayhem, Texas and other states face off with the Biden administration over out-of-control illegal immigration, and Senate GOP leadership pushes a bill that would codify outrageous levels of illegal border crossing into law.

Given all this, we need to take a step back and remind ourselves what immigration is for and whom it should serve. It might be unpopular to say so these days, especially given the widespread fiction that the American way of life is merely propositional, unaffected by culture or religion or character, but the fact remains that immigration policy should serve the interests of ordinary Americans. And the primary way, historically, it has done so is by restricting who can come here and under what circumstances.

This goes all the way back to the founding. Every piece of major immigration legislation adopted by American leaders, from the late 18th century through to the middle of the 20th century, was designed to preserve American self-government and our national character. It’s not that they wanted no immigration, it’s that they wanted to prevent the importation of a noncitizen class that would undercut and destabilize the republic. They understood, rightly, that meant a general policy of immigration restriction.

That principle, which held from the founders up until the middle of the 1960s, was predicated not on bigotry (whether based on race or religion or political ideology) but on a preference for America and Americans, for our way of life over and against that of other people and nations. As my colleague Sean Davis said recently:

America is for Americans. Being American is more than checking a box on a government form. It means learning and speaking our language, appreciating our culture and history, obeying our laws, embodying our work ethic, and preserving the traditions and attitudes that once made this the most prosperous, powerful, and free nation on earth. If you’re not down with that, you’re not an American, and you don’t need to be here.

Perhaps today, as both Republican and Democrat leaders in the Senate try to impose a new border regime that will explicitly allow some 2 million illegal immigrants into the country annually, the idea that we would restrict immigration for the good of the country seems quaint. But it isn’t. In fact, it goes to the heart of why we would debate border policy at all. Democrats today don’t really believe in borders, and they denounce all immigration restrictions as racist because they reject the notion that America should be for Americans and that government policy should prioritize American citizens and their prosperity. Their grand project is to undermine and destroy the American republic, and importing mass numbers of noncitizens is one way they are going about it.

In this, they share a common philosophy with Democrats of the past. Today, Rep. Jerry Nadler feels free to talk openly about how we need illegal immigrants to pick our vegetables and harvest our crops. For him, importing a servant class of noncitizen laborers is a necessity, and not at all incompatible with his vision for America. His view is not much different than that of antebellum Democrats, who saw black slaves in much the same light. Then as now, Democrats have no intention that these people would ever become citizens with equal rights as someone like Nadler. Nor do they much care to preserve the character and way of life of their country, which they are constantly trying to destroy, consistent with their revolutionary left-wing ethos. 

Indeed, they know that mass illegal immigration will destroy the country — and that’s why they want it. As the great Thomas Sowell once wrote, “The illusion that you can take in large numbers of people from a fundamentally different culture, without jeopardizing your own culture — and everything that depends on it — should have been dispelled by many counterproductive social consequences in Europe, even aside from the fatal dangers of terrorists.”

Sowell wrote that at the end of 2015, well into a migrant crisis in Europe triggered by the Syrian civil war. Look at Europe today. The mass importation of people who do not share the values and way of life of European peoples has created social and cultural problems that can only be solved with mass deportations. Look no further than the mass pro-Hamas demonstrations in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel.

Now look at America, and understand where this is heading. 


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