As soon as open-border enthusiasts such as Kennedy, one of the architects of the Great Society’s disastrous 1965 Immigration Act, discover that, like most legal immigrants, I’m an immigration restrictionist, they tell me to go back whence I came (Canada and before that South-Africa and before that Israel), the idea being that I’m not suited to join “the nation of immigrants.” I’ll save them the effort: I fully agree that Americans have little use for me. I’m a troublesome scribe with a love of the English idiom and an annoying attachment to the American ideas of limited government and self-governance. You wouldn’t want to import too many such subversives, who’ll agitate for a return to the values that made this place great, if only fleetingly. A word of caution, however, before you send the spouse packing. Squeaky clean, screened-to-the-hilt, highly-skilled newcomers like him will become increasingly essential in subsidizing America’s immigration free-for-all.
Mind you, people of early American probity, to paraphrase Mary McGrory, are carefully weeded out by contemporary America’s immigration policies. These select for low moral character by rewarding unacceptable risk-taking and law-breaking—an undesirable feature that’ll be further refined by the imminent passing of the amnesty bill. An example should clarify what I mean by “select for low moral character”: Most of our South-African friends, all highly qualified, upstanding family men and women, have opted to go to Australia or the UK. Why? Well, legal immigrants to the U.S. don’t “wait their turn,” as the uninformed pointy-heads keep chanting. It is usually their qualifications that, indirectly, get them admitted into the country. The H-1B visa, for one, is a temporary work permit—and also a route to acquiring legal permanent resident status. However, if one loses the job with the sponsoring company, the visa holder must leave the U.S. within ten days. What responsible, caring, family man would subject his dependents to such insecurity and upheaval? As I say, most of the people we know would never contemplate breaking the law by remaining in the country illegally. And not because they’re dull or unimaginative (an “argument” I’ve heard made by Darwinian libertarians, who praise immigration scofflaws for their entrepreneurial risk-taking, no less). But because they have the wherewithal—intellectual and moral—to weigh opportunity costs and plan for the future, rather than say “mañana” to tomorrow and live for today. Unhip perhaps, but certainly the kind of people America could do with.
Another peculiarity of the policies being discussed is the emphasis on family reunification, as opposed skills relevant to the American economy. Other countries, like Canada, look to the occupation, facility with the official language, age, and education of the candidate. Not the United States. Since 1965, with no real debate or voter participation, Congress replaced the national-origin immigration criterion (which ensured newcomers reinforced the historical majority) with an all-nations-are equal multicultural quota system, which effectively resulted in an emphasis on mass importation of people from the Third World. The new influx was no longer expected to acculturate to liberal democratic Judeo-Christian traditions. With family ‘reunification’ superseding all other considerations, immigration has become an economic drain—as demonstrated, for example, by Harvard’s George Borjas.
There’s another corollary to privileging Third-Worlders: if ever we were to import our family, we’d add two or three, elderly, English-speakers to the nation. Small extended families, however, are not the norm among most immigrant families. Birth rates being what they are in the Third World, one qualified legal immigrant from, say, Africa is a ticket for an entire tribe. The initial entrant—the meal ticket—integrates and pays his way; the rest remain, more often than not, unassimilable and welfare dependent. With millions of new arrivals each year, the problem of overcrowding in major cities cannot be overlooked.
The exclusive emphasis of late on border security in the immigration debate has helped open-border advocates immeasurably. Everyone (and his dog) currently concurs that we have no problem with legal immigration, only with the illegal variety. It’s now mandatory to pair an objection to the invasion of the American Southwest with an embrace of all forms of legal immigration. The sole emphasis on border security has, in all likelihood, entrenched the status quo—Americans will never assert their right to determine the nature of the country they live in and, by extension, the kind of immigrants they welcome. The security risk newcomers pose is the only permissible topic for conversation.
What would this round-up be without a good-news immigration story? You can all breathe easy. Guess who U.S. immigration law enforcers apprehended at the Canadian border and stripped of her American permanent residency with an intimidating display of machismo? My daughter! The Bandido is finally at bay.
Yeah, “family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande,” el presidente, once thundered. He forgot to mention that they do stop with the documented residents of the United States.
©2006 By Ilana Mercer