Ilana Mercer, February 6, 2002

Open-border immigration enthusiasts suffer from frequent brain events. One such unlucky stroke is the theory behind their “revolving door” policy recommendations. Accordingly, many immigrants don’t really want to settle in the United States, and if not for the ostensibly closed borders, people from Mexico, the People’s Republic of China, the Philippines, India, and Vietnam would make their stash and head straight back to their bucolic motherlands. According to this position, the problem is not in the easy entry, but the blocked “escape” routes: once in the U.S., illegals can’t exit without being apprehended.

Open-border advocates want to see the implementation of a “revolving door” policy, one that allows documented foreign workers to come and go freely. Realistically speaking, “a revolving door” is a euphemism for open borders. Furthermore, the immigration enthusiast’s convictions about the self-regulating nature of the free flow of people across borders rest entirely on liberal paternalism! To the liberal, foreigners are exotic beings, who can’t wait to resume their tourist-friendly, ethnically distinct lives back home. Such piffle, of course, is contradicted by the facts on the ground. If the swelling number of legal and illegal entrants is a hint, few of those lucky enough to enter the U.S. ever consider leaving, even if they own rice paddy real estate back home.

More significantly, even if we accept (incorrectly) the immigration liberal’s unfounded assertion that this influx is an economic gain for all, material considerations may not be the most important in the immigration quagmire. In Alien Nation, Peter Brimelow calls attention to the need “for some degree of ethnic and cultural coherence” in order to safeguard the free market and freedom itself. Like Pat Buchanan, Brimelow alerts to the alarming consequences of an immigration policy that has ensured that 85 percent of the 16 million legal immigrants arriving in the U.S. between 1968 and 1993 hailed from the Third World. Once conferred with citizenship, each and every immigrant may lawfully sponsor more relatives who, in turn, can do the same. For an illegal, it takes no more than procreating on U.S. soil to acquire an American relative—baby is automatically a citizen.

Post September 11, Americans may be wishing with a vengeance that the country did not harbor a fifth column of legitimate immigrants, rooting—perhaps even actively working—for the destruction of the United States. Americans may be longing for the coherence that was sundered beginning with Ted Kennedy’s 1965 Amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act, when national-origin restrictions were repealed.

The immigration dilemma is indeed not reducible to dollars and dimes, although, as it so happens, the gains from immigration to the U.S. economy as a whole are small. George Borjas, professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, documents in detail how, since the 1965 Amendments, “the United States has been granting entry visas to persons who have relatives in the United States, with no regard to their skills or economic potential. Immigrants today are less skilled than their predecessors, more likely to require public assistance, and far more likely to have children who remain in poor, segregated communities.”

The libertarian immigration proponent is fond of blaming the welfare state for the quality of the newcomers. Abolish the welfare state, he typically excoriates, and immigrants will become more productive. The causal sequence is wrong! The starting point is the quality of immigrants entering the U.S. For the kind of immigrant that is given preference under current policy, welfare is a magnet. Once again the open-border enthusiast’s thinking is striking in likeness to the liberal central planner’s beliefs. Both see the social environment as the main determinant of people’s behavior, a conviction that undergirds the liberal’s energetic social engineering. For his part, the immigration liberal’s convictions give him license to ignore the rapid acculturation of post-1965 immigrants to U.S. largess: The longer these immigrants reside in the country, the more likely they are to receive welfare. This was not characteristic of pre-1965 immigrants, even though welfare benefits were a constant back then, just as they are now.

The politics of petulance is another aspect to which post-1965 immigrants have been quick to acclimatize. In previous decades immigrants assimilated. Now they are encouraged by politicians and identity-politics activists to cling to an almost militant distinctiveness. The state-enforced ideology of multiculturalism and diversity has thus become a double-edged sword, deployed by government at once to make newcomers more subversive and the local population more submissive.

Indeed, Americans no longer so much as protest when their lives are jeopardized by imported thugs, and have by now been thoroughly convinced that this danger is the price of living in a free—more honestly, a free-for-all—county. When he admonishes ordinary Americans for their “ethnic mistrust and xenophobia,” the immigration liberationist has joined the state and its lickspittle toadies in the media and in academia in brandishing multiculturalism to justify the importation of potential constituents.

Open-border types are usually egalitarians. Perhaps they even mean well when they insist that we be forced to “share” the fruits of our labor with newcomers. The same cannot be said of government-spawned immigration policy. Rumored to be underway is an attempt to give “amnesty” or legalize roughly 12 million illegal immigrants.

Since the nation’s personal income tax burden rests unfairly on 32 million people—most of them of the “pale, patriarchal, penile” variety, or whatever the current multicultural pejorative is for the besieged white male—they will be footing the bill.


February 06, 2002

CATEGORIES: Immigration, Labor, Libertarianism, Multiculturalism, Nation & Nationhood

Leave a Reply