Sweden, Borders, and Donald Trump

Sweden has decided that they have accepted enough migrants, and so they have decided to institute border controls on basically all methods of transit into the country. For Sweden, it’s simply a matter of how many of these migrants they can realistically afford to hold, and also a growing concern about the effect of the migrant crisis on public health.

I am not here to debate whether the Swedes did the right thing by closing their borders or not. That’s really for the Swedes to decide. The important thing is that Sweden was able to close their borders when they wanted to, or at least to exercise a reasonable degree of control over who was entering their country.

I disagree with Donald Trump quite a lot – to the extent that he even says things that you can determine whether they should be agreed with or disagreed with, I usually find myself in the “disagree with” camp. Included in that category is most of his immigration platform, which I view as patently non serious for a whole host of reasons (with respect to his proposed mass deportation of those who are already here).

But there is one thing that Donald Trump is absolutely right about, even if he isn’t putting it into these words or thinking about it in these terms: part of being a sovereign country is having the ability to control who comes into your country, when a country decides that exercising that control is necessary.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a wall, topped with electrified barb wire and surrounded by a moat, but it has to get the job done with reasonable efficacy. And the system we have right now does not, and further discussions about immigration policy going forward are meaningless until a basic level of control over the border is exercised, just to make sure that we don’t have to have this discussion again 5 or 10 years from now.

I think that there’s a lot of room for people to disagree about how many people we should allow into the country and under what circumstances we allow them in. I probably would find myself in most of these discussions on the side of those who would be far more welcoming of immigrants than Donald Trump and most of his supporters.

But what I do agree with Trump about, very strongly, is that those decisions should be made by the people of the United States through the political process, and not by people who are involved in massive lawbreaking. We, the citizens of the United States, through our duly elected representatives in Congress, should be having discussions about proper immigration levels and the numbers of the various kinds of visas we should be issuing, to the extent that we agree that the current levels (set by law) are improper.

The people who are non-citizens  should not be dictating our policy by breaking it. And it’s absolutely reprehensible that, for cynical political gain, Democrats are actively advertising the fact that they stand with people who are actively short circuiting the entire American political process and flouting our laws.

Whether or not what Sweden did was a good idea is not for me or anyone else who is not a citizen of Sweden to decide. And one thing Donald Trump is very right about is that the same principle applies with equal force to the United States.

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