Give Me That Old-Time Immigration

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Last Week, when a House Bill was introduced restricting immigration to around 300,000 immigrants per year, the bill was immediately denounced as "racist" by pro-immigration activists. The bill sponsor, a Republican from Colorado (a state heavily affected by immigration) can probably expect little help from the White House and the mainstream conservative press. Both have largely accepted that anyone who dares admit that unlimited immigration might be a problem is a racist unfit to participate in public debate. The "racist" and "genocide" tactics employed by the proponents of immigration are really nothing more than an attempt to avoid talking about the uniqueness of modern mass immigration and its affects on American civilization.

It is an inescapable fact that most immigrants to the United States in the 1990’s have been from Latin America, and that most Latin American immigrants have been from Mexico. It’s very easy then, for purveyors of unlimited immigration to label anyone who questions the status quo as a racist. The race of the immigrants, however has very little to do with the debate. There is little reason to believe that modern Latin Americans somehow have less capacity to assimilate to American culture than did Eastern Europeans of the nineteenth century. The central issue here is not race, but the exceedingly high numbers of immigrants who are entering the country and are failing to assimilate.

After all, most new immigrants want to learn English, and most of them want to work. No matter how hard they try, however, not all of them can possibly be successful and adapt to the American way of life. This has been the story of immigration in the United States for centuries. In the past, however, those who failed to integrate often returned to their countries of origin. Today however, those who fail to succeed simply stay and take advantage of the American welfare state. We’ve made it so easy, who can blame them?

Such assimilation issues are always going to be a problem no matter how many immigrants enter the country, but when immigrants stream into the country at an uncontrolled rate, the numbers of people who do not assimilate tend to add up and create a sizable population within our borders.. We see the effects every day as impoverished and illegal immigrants use our emergency rooms, our public schools, and trample our national parks (as in Big Bend national park along the border). Those who fail to integrate have little regard for traditional American institutions, and do not understand the core values of American classical liberalism. This is not true of all immigrants, but when the flow of those who fail to integrate and are never sent back is allowed to grow unchecked, the long-term effects of such policies will be painfully obvious.

Just how far out of touch we are with the realities of immigration is clear in the statistics. We are told to believe that there is nothing special about the current flows of immigration, that America is a melting pot, and that we can absorb just as many people into the nation as may show up. What is never discussed, however, is that current immigration levels are indeed unique, and that we have no real control over immigration at all. Prior to the 1990’s, 300,000 immigrants per year was a standard immigration level. Today, we are subjected to immigration flows of 1,000,000 people per year. 44% of those immigrants live in conditions of poverty or near poverty, and almost one fifth of immigrant-headed households receive welfare. The foreign born population of the United States has been steadily increasing for the last forty years, and currently stands at 10% of the population. The Federation for American Immigration Reform projects that these percentages are likely to only increase as the native born population continues to shrink and will continue to have less control over its own resources.

These are not insignificant problems, and as long as we continue to be bullied by the race baiters who refuse to discuss the issue, nothing will be done. Controlling the borders is not an impossible task. Only in the last decade has the United States abandoned its own citizens and handed citizenship to millions of new immigrants, while many do not even plan to stay in the United States in the long term.

The so called anti-immigration agenda is one that suggests that we return to more traditional immigration policies that restrict immigration to levels of around a quarter of a million people per year. These are not extreme and draconian ideas, yet listening to the mainstream pundit class, one would think that such suggestions amount to little less than Nazism. The real extremism lies with the pro-immigration crowd that denies the right of states and local governments to control immigration into their own communities, and thus denies that traditional American institutions, even when influenced by a reasonable number of immigrants, are anything worth preserving.

Being the grandson of Mexican immigrants myself, I can sympathize with those who want to escape the inequality and poverty of Latin America. However, simply turning the United States into part of Latin America is not going to solve the problem. The unique institutions of the United States are what makes it such a draw to immigrants. If want are to be a true help to immigrants, we must be sure that our society is preserved, so that in a generation it will continue to offer the promise of a free society and not become little more than a clone of the societies that these immigrants are trying to escape in the first place.

Ryan McMaken [send him mail] is a public relations man in Denver, Colorado. You can visit his Rocky Mountain news site at

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