Anti-Attrition Through Enforcement

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(Picture of severe wearing of the teeth, or attrition, from

Anti-migrant advocates have been tremendously successful at labeling everything amnesty and then pushing an anti-amnesty agenda.  It's always easier to organize against something than it is to organize in favor of something.  With that in mind I've decided it's time pro-migrant advocates come up with their own anti-agenda: anti-attrition.

Attrition sounds innocent enough.  It's a clinical term.  An anti-attrition rallying cry might not seem very appealing at first.  But the same could have been said for amnesty.  Amnesty essentially means forgiveness.  If anti-migrant advocates were able to make amnesty a bad word in a God-fearing, Jesus-loving nation, then it can't be hard to do the same thing with attrition. 

What does attrition through enforcement mean?  Believe it or not, unlike amnesty, attrition through enforcement is something that leading anti-migrant organizations actually advocate for.  A dry definition of the term attrition is to wear something down, like a rock, through constant rubbing or friction.  But when applied to humans attrition has all sorts of horrible connotations. provides this definition:

A wearing down or weakening of resistance, esp. as a result of continuous pressure or harassment
To engage in attrition warfare is to wear down your enemy to the "point of collapse".  If these connotations haven't gotten you riled up yet, they should.
I came up with this anti-attrition idea while attending Boston University's Great Debate, a few weeks ago.  The question was "Can Stricter Law Enforcement at the Border and the Workplace Solve the U.S. Immigration Problem?" (there's a video in case people want to watch it).  Leading the argument in favor of an enforcement-only solution was Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).  Though the media often mistakes CIS as a legitimate unbiased source, it has a restrictionist agenda and possible ties to white supremacy (it was founded by John Tanton).

Mark Krikorian didn't dissapoint.  Though the average observer might not have discerned it, he advocated for a unnerving policy of attrition through enforcement.  As I mentioned before the connotations of attrition are terrifying, but in case people still don't quite understand what it means, it is what the New York Times has described as "the misery strategy":

Their one big idea is that harsh, unrelenting enforcement at the border, in the workplace and in homes and streets would dry up opportunities for illegal immigrants and eventually cause the human tide to flow backward. That would be true only if life for illegal immigrants in America could be made significantly more miserable than life in, say, rural Guatemala or the slums of Mexico City. That will take a lot of time and a lot of misery to pull that off in a country that has tolerated and profited from illegal labor for generations.

If that doesn't lay out how disgusting this strategy is, and it doesn't put you in the anti-attrition camp, I don't know how else to say it.   The one big plan all these anti-migrant think tanks and organizations have, is to make migrants' lives so miserable that they leave on their own.  If anyone's ever wondered how people can allow leaders who endorse massive human suffering to take power, it's through ideas like these.  Worst of all, it's already happening.  There are already millions of migrants in the United States that live in absolute fear.  It has not gotten miserable enough to turn back the tide of migration, yet, but I don't want to live to see that day.  I can only hope that other U.S. citizens, and the rest of the world, feels the same way.

Watch the video to see how Krikorian justifies this horrific strategy, and fast forward to time stamp 1:26:12 if you want to see an inarticulate Gringo Chapin (your's truly) oppose him.  The good news is that the vast majority of the audience thought the pro-migrant side of the debate won.  Now those BU students just need to call their political representatives.

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kyledeb said:

This has been cross-posted on Daily Kos and Blue Mass. Group.

barb said:

Do you have another link for that video? This one doesn't work for me...

yeah, I was kinda surprised to see the NYT picked up the CIS' new report on immigration and reported it like it was a perfectly respectable organization! just one line mentioned that the aim of the organization is anti-immigrant.

kyledeb said:

That video is a pain barb, you have to download realplayer if you want to see it. I've been trying to rip it and put it in a different format but all my attempts to do so have come up empty.

You just hit on another level of the CIS, which is that people continue to cite it as if it's a perfectly respectable source. I'm going to hit that up if I have the time but it's starting to get ridiculous how little the mainstream media wants to dig.

What is described as an immigration problem is actually two different problems. One is a problem of justice -- what should be the rights of people to move freely from one country to another in search of opportunity, happiness, education, or other benefits? The second is one of law-enforcement -- what should a government do to assure that its laws are not violated.

On the first question, I am a radical. I believe that the strength of the United States is that its people can move from California to Maine without passports or permission. If we were able to negotiate similar arrangements with more countries, we would increase our freedom and our prosperity. Open borders would be better for all of us.

On the second question, I am a law-and-order conservative. The president has an obligation to enforce the existing law, even if he doesn't like it. That means committing all the resources necessary to permanently close the borders; building a Great Wall, not a short fence. Deploying the US Army, not a few thousand border patrol agents. It also means making a sincere effort to find illegal aliens and return them to their home countries. If there are 12 million, it won't be difficult to find at least the first few million.

Human rights and law should be compatible, but until they are, law assures order in a society, and without order, we are unlikely to advance toward universal justice.

kyledeb said:

Sorry Mr. Frederick Dennis Williams,

But MLK is a living breathing example of how unjust laws are incompatible with universal justice.

there fire two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the Brat to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all"

All manner of unjust laws were used to exclude people within our societies with categories like gender, race and class. Nativism is no different.

Furthermore the leaders of the United States have a responsibility to do what is in the best interests of the people. People usually go 80 m.p.h. on a freeway when the speed limits are 65 m.p.h., but the government isn't investing everything to make sure everyone doesn't stray one m.p.h. over that.

I also question your knowledge of immigration law. Something that has become so complicated and broken, that everyone should advocate for an overhall.

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This page contains a single entry by Kyle de Beausset published on November 29, 2007 2:11 PM.

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