The latest dust-up over the fate of a group of illegal migrants stranded in New Guinea living on Australian charity encapsulates the great challenge the Western world faces from migrants dissatisfied with their own countries who arrive as low-skilled, welfare-dependent, and often culturally-hostile uninvited guests.
In the waning days of his presidency, after Trump was elected, Obama agreed to take a thousand or two Muslim migrants off Australia’s hands and bring them to the United States. This arrangement has now come to the attention of President Trump, and he and probably most Americans are unclear why the United States, having in recent years already taken in more migrants than most any other country in the world, should take in still more, let alone those in Asia who are currently on an island near Muslim Indonesia. The Australian government doesn’t want them but is stuck caring for them, so it was delighted that Obama, on his way out of office, offered them free tickets to the United States. It’s no surprise that Trump, elected as much as anything else on his promise to tighten immigration and seal our porous borders, looks askance at this. Australia knew full well not only that Obama was a lame duck when he agreed to take these migrants but also that this hushed-up transfer would be very unpopular with most Americans, so no tears for our friends down under.
The big-picture point here is that every person in the world disenchanted with his or her current country cannot migrate to the United States. The United States simply does not have enough space or resources to care for everyone in the world who would like to come here. The rest of the world must be made a better place in which to live, and although the United States undoubtedly will continue to help others toward that goal, as it most generously has in blood and treasure for over a hundred years, it is not capable of, nor morally responsible for, ensuring that all other countries of the world are acceptable places in which to live.