Immigration policy has reached a standoff in Washington.
Special interests keep holding enforcement hostage to their demands for amnesty and more cheap foreign workers. Those insisting on the rule of law want incremental enforcement measures and visa cuts.
Into this trench warfare’s no man’s land treads Mark Krikorian, executive director of the indispensable Center for Immigration Studies.
His new book, The New Case Against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal, should at a minimum cause both sides to refresh their thinking about this vexing issue. With luck, and if politicians and cynical interests will open their minds for two seconds, this tour de force could break the logjam by infusing some realistic, hard-headed decisionmaking.
The insightful Krikorian, a frequent guest on national TV news shows and a contributor to National Review Online, mounts a moderate case. That is, he respects his readers, reasons closely and relies on good, old-fashioned logic. His well-known wit and intellect shine through in The New Case Against Immigration.
The central argument: America has changed, becoming the foremost modern nation on the planet. As a modern society, we’re a mature society. America today has different priorities than the America that existed at the start of the 20th century.
Therefore, immigration policy should be designed to serve the best interests of America the Modern. That entails much lower levels of immigration and keener intentionality behind the immigrants we choose to admit.
Krikorian says today’s immigrants don’t differ much in characteristics and qualities from those disembarking from ships at Ellis Island. But their (premodern) skill-sets don’t fit the society we have become. “In short, mass immigration is incompatible with a modern society,” Krikorian observes.
What broad goals does modern America have? A strong shared national identity. Opportunity for upward mobility. High-wage job availability and a large middle class. A responsible but limited program to provide for the poor. Middle-class norms for how people act. A certain level of government spending on infrastructure and public amenities. Stewardship of our natural and historical resources.
But other aspects of modernity, “when combined with mass immigration, undermine these goals.” Cheap means of communication and transportation, smaller families, elites who have forsaken patriotism and replaced it with an ideology of cosmopolitanism or post-Americanism, and social disintegration work against our national ideals.
How does immigration hurt modern America’s national aims? Krikorian contends that volume is the key problem, with widespread ramifications. Each area of immigration’s fallout would be sobering enough by itself. In combination, they spell national disaster.
Legal or illegal, skilled or unskilled, immigrants on the order of 1.3 million a year take advantage of all that modernity has to offer. How could a modern society see anything but serious repercussions from immigration when “[f]ully one third of all the people ever to move to the United States, starting from the first Siberian to cross the Bering land bridge in search of game, have arrived since 1965?”
Immigration combines huge numbers of people easily able to attain a type of cosmopolitanism with corrosive social forces like multiculturalism, political correctness and race-based policies. Krikorian spells out the consequences. American social upheaval since the 1960s has meant that rekindled mass immigration after 1965 throws gasoline on a smoldering fire.
Krikorian blows up the “diversity” argument some make as rationalization for virtually unlimited immigration. “[T]he one major difference that does exist in today’s immigration flow . . . compared to the past: its remarkable lack of diversity.”
He observes how a greater number of sending countries “masks a growing domination of the immigrant flow by one ethnic group.” Immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries became nearly half the immigrant population by the 1990s. Importing wholesale another culture from nearby countries, coupled with cheap transportation and communications to maintain very close ties back home, severely retards assimilation and Americanization.
Meticulously, Krikorian details the deadly combination of antiassimilationist policies and far too numerous immigration. Constant resupply of foreign-born residents keeps multiculturalists in business. But it goes far beyond that.
Mass immigration empowers Mexican-American radicals who preach hatred and identity politics. It enables the Mexican government to chip away at U.S. sovereignty and meddle in our internal affairs. It overwhelms our administrative capacity to screen out bad guys and thus creates a threat to our national security.
Immigration today wars against a thriving American middle class — in terms of a healthy, self-regulating labor market, opportunity to advance, incentive for innovation. And immigration is driving growth of government and the high taxes necessary to pay for that systematic wealth redistribution.
In one of the most fascinating chapters, Krikorian explains mass immigration’s harmful effects on U.S. population growth. Modern societies naturally have smaller families, yet adding 100 million people over the next half-century via importation won’t solve challenges like Social Security funding. Krikorian convincingly shows how this social engineering exacerbates our quality of life.
Agree or disagree with his arguments, Krikorian doesn’t overstate his case. He lets the facts speak for themselves. He provides the analysis that integrates the details from a range of things immigration affects, such as the economy, size of government and national security.
Krikorian’s masterpiece should be required reading for anybody involved in making immigration policy. The same holds for all jetset elites who no longer love America. They should read this and, hopefully, realize what they’re doing to our nation.
It’s especially valuable for conservatives who do still hold allegiance to their country, who remember that they should be about conserving something. The New Case Against Immigration will help inform what America needs to conserve and how to go about it — by restoring sanity to an immigration system that’s destroying the nation.
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