In the in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries America welcomed many European immigrants who spoke little or no English. Many of them got jobs that have lost their appeal since that time. Can you imagine spending eight hours a day or longer splitting beef or pork carcasses with what looked like a huge long-handled cleaver or be-heading ax? I suppose that if those jobs hadn't gone to immigrants, they would have gone to Americans. And Americans were usually given first dibs because they spoke English. However, if, because of a labor shortage, the jobs could not be filled with citizens, the immigrants were put to work. If there was a recession or “panic” as they were sometimes called, immigrants found it tough- going. Some returned to their homelands because they concluded they wouldn’t be any worse off there than they were in America without work.
Given our immigrant back ground, some think it's hypocritical of us to close the doors behind us (unless you're a pure Navajo), yet there's a genuine problem with the impact of immigration on the poorest Americans. Moreover, America today is hardly the same as it was in those earlier centuries. In the earliest days, a largely unsettled continent lay before the Founding Fathers. Native Americans might disagree with that but it is true in comparison with today’s population of 308 million. Natural resources like fish, game, timber, water, minerals and arable land seemed limitless. Now we know they are not. The amount of arable land is declining as developers and others cover it with concrete for highways, streets and condominiums. Water in the Southwest is a critical resource as water rights continue to be bought up by cities to serve their burgeoning populations, leaving the farm and ranch land unproductive for lack of water.
True immigration reform must be based on the current population, physical and resource status of America, and not some romantic notion about the days when we were indeed a nation of immigrants. We must think in terms of what immigration and tax policies will best preserve our quality of life and our standard of living. Neither a respect for our immigrant past nor compassion for all the impoverished millions of the world should be the guiding principle for immigration reform.
I used to favor a program to allow in guest workers and temporary migrant farm workers, thinking it would be good for them and also great for America by providing a source of low-cost labor. But we are no longer living in the 18th, 19th or 20th centuries. It was good for America to admit our own ancestors when times were different but immigration policies require a proper consideration of the economic, natural resource, and population environment of today rather than living in the past and extending compassion to others at the expense of our own citizens.
Illegal aliens overwhelmingly are hard-working people who help to keep the economy humming, but sometimes just establish businesses to serve others like themselves and while competing directly with citizen owned and operated businesses. The most important fact, however, is that they are here illegally. They deserve to be treated just like other lawbreakers, as human beings but who have violated the rules. If they are living a marginalized life in the shadows, they have no one to blame but themselves. It represents the minimum punishment for their transgressions. What they really deserve is systematic identification, apprehension, detention and expeditious, involuntary repatriation. Even those who choose to self-deport must be categorized as involuntary removals so that if they return they will be considered felons and repeat offenders.
This may seem unduly harsh to some, especially those who think the basis for such a policy is merely xenophobic resentment rather than the other far more important factors. Xenophobia, racism, nativism, and bigotry all pale in significance in relation to our finite natural resources, the supremely important quality of life and standard of living considerations, and the rule of law. We have already seen what the erosion of the concept of the rule law produces in the lawlessness, murder and mayhem endemic in Northern Mexico and the border areas of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas
The impulse behind immigration reforms should not be a misguided generosity or compassion. The cold reality is that admitting poor immigrants often means hurting poor Americans. We can salve the pain with job programs for displaced Americans, but the fundamental trade-off is unavoidable. But that is not the only outcome. Ordinary Americans who are not so poor are also hurt by a population out of control driven largely by excessive legal immigration and the flood of illegal aliens from south of the border. And American is hurt by an immigration program that is structured so as to bring in cheap laborers more than brilliant minds. At last count, only 16 percent of admissions for permanent residence went to those with employment qualifications, while the great majority went to applicants on the basis of family ties. Giving priority to chain immigrations is just another example of a poor immigration policy. There is no reason to give favorable immigration treatment to adult relatives of citizens or permanent residents. They should be required to compete on a level playing field with all other adult applicants.
Given the paucity of engineering and science terminal degrees earned by citizen students, we must extend accelerated citizenship to foreign students who complete the PhD in engineering, physical science, medicine and mathematics. This the only way we can remain competitive in the global economy. That approach should be supplemented with a major new scholarship program for those Americans who have the capability and desire to succeed that the PhD level in those fields. We have more than enough lawyers and social studies professors so they would not be eligible for such scholarships.
Extensively modified and adapted from Nicholas Kristof, April 9, 2006, NYT
Working for logical immigation reform based on a stable population, a recognition of the finite nature of our natural resources and the adverse impact of continued growth on our quality of life, standard of living, national interest, character, language, sovereignty and the rule of law. Pushing back and countering the disloyal elements in American society and the anti-American rhetoric of the leftwing illegal alien lobbies. In a debate, when your opponents turn to name calling, it's a good sign you've already won.