Mass Immigration and its Discontents

Is there an economic case against open borders, and not just a cultural one? Certainly, warnings about labor shortages from open-borders advocates like Paul Ryan strike me as rather hollow at a time of increasingly advanced automation and robotics. The collision course that is the welfare state and affirmative action on one hand, and mass immigration on the other, has been explored quite extensively.

But there is plenty of room for reservation about open borders if you just believe in something called supply and demand.

That’s what the always interesting Ron Unz argued recently in a debate against libertarian economist and pundit Brian Caplan. I was surprised to hear a few days ago that an Intelligence Squared audience, predictably very much in favor of mass immigration according to polls taken at the beginning of the debate, subsequently swung massively to Unz’s restrictionist side.

Now, my view is that the wants and needs of western countries, even with their aging populations, are vastly outnumbered by the wants and needs of the pools of potential migrants in poor countries. Eight out of the ten most fertile countries in the world are in the dysfunctional region that is sub-Saharan Africa. Conceivably, we may need some of their labor, even if the unemployment rate in Spain and Greece remains in the mid to high twenties. But the fact that 44% of Somalians are under the age of 15, for instance, should be giving us pause for thought before we even consider throwing the borders open. The supply and demand situation here is incredibly skewed. Greece, certainly an economic basket-case at present, still looks tempting enough from the perspective of a young person from Eritrea, where per capita GDP stands at $600.  My money would be on major economic and social upheaval if unfettered movement of people were actually adopted as it stands.

Back to Ron Unz, who calmly advanced a common-sense argument against a typically smarmy Brian Caplan. Unz simply states that allowing an unlimited number of additional workers from everywhere in the world to come to America, as Caplan advocates, would massively increase the supply of labor. This would tremendously disadvantage labor, to the tremendous advantage of capital. Ordinary workers would not benefit at all. True, there would be a huge increase in economic production, productivity, and GNP on paper. All of it, however, would be captured by capital. America’s minimum wage would quickly become the maximum wage.

This would exacerbate the bifurcation of American that has taken place over the past 40 years. While technology has increased living standards, real earnings for most have been stagnant during this time. Yet the wealthy have gotten much wealthier. The top 1 percent of American society has reached the point where it has as much wealth as the bottom 95 percent. Mass immigration and mismanagement of the currency have been the main culprits here. Female entry to the workforce has payed its part, though the wage sectors that have experienced the sharpest declines are not the ones that have seen massive influxes of women.

A recent cover piece at The Spectator described the American and British middle classes as “shrinking and sinking”. This may constitute the single most disturbing social trend of our age, and a true tragedy for the adults of tomorrow, who will not be able to enjoy the trappings of life their parents and grandparents did. Not to mention it is potentially destabilizing politically.

If libertarians like Caplan and mainstream conservatives (or more accurately, perhaps, Wall Street conservatives) are not helping to stop and reverse this trend, they are on the wrong side of history. Recent talk of a ‘libertarian populism‘ or ‘labor Republicanism‘ may indicate a growing awareness that conservatives and libertarians must speak the language of exurban Ohio rather than midtown Manhattan.

The policies of previous decades, focusing on tax cuts and privatization, will no longer cut it. We now have huge numbers of working poor and people earning under £1500 a month in Britain. They may pay no direct tax apart  from an £85 National Insurance contribution. They gain significantly more from government services than what they pay in. They have no incentive to vote for the Mitt Romneys of this world.

So we are going to have to find ways to genuinely improve the average man’s standard of living, economic mobility, and purchasing power. My first step would be an end to all immigration unless of a highly skilled, specific variety. Its not the only step that could be taken, but I am willing to say it is the most important one.

I have said to a colleague on Facebook that open-borders libertarians, and the editorial writers at outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the FT, are because of their adherence to this idea now as dangerous to the middle class and prosperity as any Bolshevik. I stand by it.

America’s Immigration Policy as a Global Welfare Scheme

Here’s a very telling insight into how immigration policy is decided in America today. A group of 13 female Senators are criticizing the current immigration overhaul plan precisely because of its emphasis on a merit system. Their argument? Because many foreign women are less educated and less skilled than men, it would amount to discrimination against them.

Well, I suppose it is no more nonsensical than the New York Times recent suggestion that the illegitimate children of US servicemen and bar-girls abroad should be fast-tracked to US citizenship. Because one thing America has a crippling shortage of right now is illegitimate children.

This is only the natural conclusion to Ted Kennedy’s 1965 Amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act, which placed considerations like family reunification and being extra nice to colored people ahead of America’s economic interests. It has prevented the country from maintaining a national character, as had been done previously by the National Origins Formula, to preference the nationalities of people already in the United States. That’s why 80-90 percent of immigrants are now from the Third World, whereas previously 97 percent of immigrants came from Europe.

America’s emphasis on family reunification has been grossly unfair. It squeezes out many talented young people from developed nations like Britain who would be a real credit to the country and would love to be there. As the interesting Stephen Steinlight has pointed out, a single immigrant can end up getting citizenship for most of a village in Mexico, or even half the population of an entire town in the West Bank.

Is America importing the best? No. Immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, places that supply the vast majority of newcomers, are less entrepreneurial than natives and immigrants from countries like Canada and Korea. Current Hispanic immigrants and their descendants are not advancing economically and entering the middle class, as did immigrants of old. Instead, America has been importing an underclass of people with an illegitimacy rate of 53%, who are crime-prone, and have test scores that are not reaching the level of whites even after two and three generations.

Yet nobody cares. When it comes to handing out visas, it is simply each according to her need.

See also:

Randmesty?

Preserving Freedom Can Mean Restricting Immigration

Preserving Freedom Can Mean Restricting Immigration

Rose Wilder Lane, who is said to have coined the term ‘libertarian movement’, makes an interesting point in The Discovery of Freedom that could well enlighten today’s immigration policy.

Like all good commentators, Rose Wilder Lane does not expatiate on the West and the rise of freedom without extensive reference to its roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions. Lane credits Abraham with the insight that “God does not control any man… a man controls himself, he is free to do good or evil in the sight of God”. She points to the important breaks the Israelites made with the surrounding pagan cultures, including their decentralized, even anarchic, governing structure. However, she also points out that the Israelites were a small group surrounded by powerful pagan empires: “The most promising young Israelites were always falling in love with pagan girls… They would have melted humbly into those pagan multitudes  if their strong men had not stood in the way and driven them back with threats, telling them that they were like no other people, that they were set apart, chosen to know the truth and hold to it. They wanted to be “like all the other nations”. But to be like any other people, they must forget that men are free. That is the truth that they held”.

For much of history, America preserved a culture of liberty not found anywhere else. When facing a flood of immigrants from places without this culture, huge efforts were put into the Americanization of these people, through schools and other outlets. This was not only an initiative of the American government. The Ford Motor Company’s absorption classes for new arrivals are legendary. Americans knew they possessed something unique, that was vulnerable, and that had to be preserved with the maintenance of a national character. Friedrich Hayek says in the Constitution of Liberty that the experiment of the United States in having such high levels of  immigration would have utterly failed without such efforts. I find it ominous that this emphasis does not exist today.

My motive in raising this is simply to say that when a nation happens to be a repository of liberal ideas, yet surrounded by illiberal cultures, it is not necessarily a liberal policy to allow vast numbers of those from illiberal cultures to infiltrate the nation and perhaps alter its character entirely. Consider this point when you see Muslim vigilante patrols harassing people on the streets of London, or Arab teens beating a visiting left-wing Israeli filmmaker in France.

See Also: Randmesty? 

Randmesty? Why Rand Paul Is Wrong About Immigration.

The Republican Party’s capacity for self-delusion sometimes surpasses even that of the Irish in a housing bubble. Nowhere is this more evident than the constant party refrains about Hispanics being such “natural Republicans“, they’re ready to hop on the bandwagon if you just cool the rhetoric about immigration. The latest piece of outrageous Hispandering comes courtesy of – it pains me to say – Kentucky’s Rand Paul.

Now, about Rand Paul. I like him. I support his agenda. I would vote for him in 2016. But he’s potentially very weak on the immigration issue. Like Peter Brimelow, I don’t think he’s thought about or appreciates the consequences of mass immigration all that much, something he has in common with a lot of cloistered libertarians. Paul went so far as to call illegal aliens “undocumented citizens” in a recent Washington Times op-ed. Uh-oh.

Recently, Rand gave a speech addressing the topics of amnesty and border security in front of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It was truly pathetic. At some points, it was unintentionally quite funny. To establish a bond of victimhood and ethnic grievance, Paul actually piped: “It was not always easy to be German American in the face of two world wars started by Germans. Intolerance is not new, and it is not limited to one language or skin color”. Oh, Rand, really?

Other choice lines:

“Growing up in Texas I never met a Latino who wasn’t working”.

“Republicans have been losing both the respect and votes of a group of people who already identify with our belief in family, faith, and conservative values. Hispanics should be a natural and sizable part of the Republican base”.

Lies, lies, lies.

Hispanics are far from conservative or libertarian

Well, the first line may not be a lie per se, but your childhood experience seeing Hispanics in construction crews or cleaning your yard aren’t the best guide to policy-making. As it happens, 65.4 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics and 68.4 percent of Hispanic immigrants are working,  compared with 69.3 percent for the country as a whole. Its not a marked difference, but its important to get past the myth of the hard-working Hispanic who actually wants to be here, unlike many supposedly shiftless, unappreciative natives.  57.4% of Mexican immigrants are on some form of welfare, which is significantly high.

The second point is so hackneyed, and so blatantly untrue, I wonder if the Republicans mouths obliged to utter such platitudes seriously believe it anymore. All it takes is a walk through East Los Angeles to observe that the Latino community is no bastion of social conservatism. Salt Lake City most Latino neighborhoods are not, and its not just confined to the female dress code. Hispanics have largely converged with the general public on social issues, and have possibly gone even further to the left. Pew Research’s Hispanic Center says that younger Hispanics support legal abortion in all or most cases, and close to 60 percent of Latinos overall support gay marriage.

What should be most worrying to a free-marketeer like Rand Paul is the Hispanic attitude to capitalism and socialism. Again, Pew Research indicates that Hispanics are twice as likely to have a positive view of socialism than whites. Amazingly, the average Hispanic is more likely to have a positive view of socialism than a self-described supporter of the Occupy Movement (so is the average black, it must be said). Fox News Latino claims that 62% of Hispanics support ObamaCare. This shouldn’t really surprise. We are talking about a people with roots in a continent that brought us Hugo Chavez, and famed for its economic populist strongmen. My view is that you wouldn’t have to change a single letter in the Constitution for the United States to become a socialist regime or Latin American style basket case republic, if the character of the people was that way inclined. And what better way to accomplish that than import tens of millions of Latin Americans? The implications of inviting millions of people rooted in a highly socialistic and collectivist culture into the United States really ought to attract more scrutiny. Unfortunately, libertarians today don’t have the guts. Even Lew Rockwell’s site, which once emphasized these matters,  seems to have completely sold out to La Raza and the Treason Lobby. What I call Official Conservatism may be even worse.

If Republican Party positions on economic and social matters are an anathema to most Hispanics, what makes anybody believe they will change allegiance if the party concedes ground on immigration? They already have the Democrats. That’s why polls show Hispanics vastly prefer Hilary Clinton to one of their own who happens to be sympathetic to amnesty, Marco Rubio.

Problems in today’s US immigration policy 

In fairness to Paul, he’s not all lost, in that he argues that the path to a green card and eventual citizenship for illegals currently in the country has to be contingent upon improvements in border security. The problem is the inevitable wrangling in the legislature as to what constitutes a secure border. My own vision of an ideal border policy involves bringing home the 10,000 troops currently stationed in Italy (Italy, for crying out loud!), the more than 50,000 troops in Germany, 36,000 in Japan, 28,000 in Korea, and stringing them along the southern border. John Derbyshire, a greater math whiz than I, says that on a three-shift basis this would equate to about one soldier per 50 yards of border, perfectly adequate for deterring intruders.

Alas, this is not going to happen.

And what about assimilating those that are already here? This is usually considered the long-term measure of success in immigration policy. We skeptics are often asked why the current wave of Latino immigration is different from earlier waves of Irish, Italian, or Jewish immigration. The process of Americanization in these cases was indeed a painful one, but ultimately very successful. Irish Americans proved capable of developing a particularly visceral patriotism (case in point: Joe McCarthy), and a number of Irish upstarts proved capable of being more WASP-y than the WASPs themselves (case in point: Buckley). American Jews, perhaps a little too eager to assimilate, ended up perpetrating a self-inflicted cultural holocaust. “God Bless America“? That was Irving Berlin. Christmas songs? The best ones were written by Jews.

The problem nowadays is that the America that placed enormous emphasis on assimilating immigrants no longer exists. As Friedrich Hayek says in the Constitution of Liberty: “That the United States would not have become such an effective ‘melting pot’ and would probably have faced extremely difficult problems if it had not been for a deliberate policy of ‘Americanization’ through the public school system seems fairly certain”. Hayek’s view is being tested today in the United States and he is being proved right.

Its helpful, at times, to think of Americanness as a religion. Lincoln said that when an immigrant feels that the Declaration of Independence “is the father of all moral principle in them”, then “they have a right to claim it is as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration”. This American model may very well be inspired by the Bible, where Ruth the Moabite woman tells her Israelite mother-in-law: “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried”.

Two trends combine to make this whole process more difficult. The first has to do with technology and increasingly lower travel costs. These enable border-hoppers to maintain contact and ties with the old country to a far greater extent than immigrants from the Elllis Island era. Its much more difficult for Hispanic immigrants to become deeply rooted in America.  Almost 80% watch Spanish-language television, half of them as their main source of TV. Most interestingly, more than half of Dominicans and Mexicans who died in New York City were buried in their countries of origin in the year 1996 (so much for Ruth’s approach).

The second trend harks back to Hayek’s point above. A cultural and political shift has occurred in the United States, and other countries, that recoils at the idea that immigrants need to be brought into harmony with the existing culture. It is a combination of a lack of national self-confidence and a pathetic non-judgmentalism. This non-judgmentalism primarily affects the elite class, a class that once saw themselves as bearing a special responsibility for the well-being of America, but is now caught up in the ideals of multiculturalism. No longer can political leaders talk like Alexander Hamilton, when he said that the success of the American republic requires “the preservation of a national spirit and national character”. No longer can a politician talk to a potential immigrant in the manner of John Quincy Adams, who told a German contemplating immigrating that immigrants “must cast off the European skin, never to resume it. They must look forward to their posterity rather than backward to their ancestors”. Such attitudes, which guided the policy of the Ford Motor Company in the absorption classes they ran for immigrant workers, would now be deemed insensitive or racist.

Not surprisingly, surveys show there is an enormous gulf between the opinions of the economic and cultural elite – including executives of Fortune 1000 companies, heads of large trade unions, newspaper editors and TV news directors – and the average American. 70 percent of the public regard reducing illegal immigration as a “very important” policy goal, compared with 22 percent of the aforementioned elite. 55 percent of the public want legal immigration to be reduced, compared t only 18 percent of the elite.

Once, the approach of American schools was to accept that a Mexican could maintain pride in his former nation’s culture – expressed in music, art, cuisine, and religion – but they encouraged the political, economic, and social values of that country be quickly abandoned. Given the Pew Research findings on Latino political values mentioned above, this was wise.

Today’s schools actually aim to de-Americanize children and actively promote minority identity politics and culture. Bizarrely, surveys carried out by the sociologists Alejandro Portes and Ruben Rumbaut in Florida have found that children of immigrants are less likely to identify as American after leaving school than when they came in. The most dramatic change was among Cubans. One-third of a particular group surveyed simply referred to themselves as ‘American’ at the beginning of high-school. By the end of high school, only two percent did, the rest preferring to identify as ‘Cuban’ or ‘Cuban-American’.

The Existential Threat 

It may not be politically correct to say this, but this trend is most worrying when we are talking about the importation of millions of Mexicans into US territory previously won from Mexico. No immigrant group in U.S. history could potentially assert a historical claim to U.S. territory. Mexicans can and do make this claim. A 2002 Zogby poll found that 58 percent of Mexicans agree with the statement, “The territory of the United States’ southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico”. 28 percent disagreed, while another 14 percent said they weren’t sure. Charles Truxillo, a professor of Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico, said, “I may not live to see the Hispanic homeland, but by the end of the century my students’ kids will live in it, sovereign and free”. That’s what happens in a country where you have professors of ‘Chicano Studies’.

Occasionally, I’ve met folks in the US military, particularly those with roots in the Southwest, worried about about the region becoming America’s Kosovo. Yet it seems this kind of sensible strategic thinking cannot be discussed. Were not even meant to think about it. When Obama and Romney engaged in foreign policy debates last year, there were over 30 mentions each of Israel and Iran in a single session. Of Mexico, whose problems are America’s problems (look at the kind of carnage that happens around the border linked to the drug trade), there was nothing. At the same time, friends of Israel in the United States will unequivocally stand by the right of the Israeli people to retain a Jewish majority in their state, and reject the so-called right of return by millions of self-styled refugees.

Nobody cares that whites are no longer a majority in California. Nobody cares that Texas will become a swing state in a very short time. Nobody cares that Bill Clinton triumphantly claimed at Portland State University in 1998 that there would be no majority race in the United States in fifty years time, to the cheers of students and faculty. This should have been classed as a declaration of civil war, but nobody cares – yet.

Balkanisation may seem like a remote possibility now. But anything can happen in a time of economic tumult. The worst here is certainly yet to come. Just take a look at America’s unfunded liabilities.

Going Forward

With all the focus Rand Paul got at CPAC, I thought I’d highlight the brilliant points of Ann Coulter on amnesty (from 11:40 on this clip). She says the issue is now her first priority, for good reason.

If amnesty goes ahead, all of America becomes California and no Republican will ever win a national election. Libertarians would be shooting themselves in the foot, too. Get real, free-marketeers: these people will never vote for you.

About 80% of immigrants are from the Third World. In the 1890’s, 97 percent of immigrants came from Europe. In the meantime, its difficult for a European, far less likely to slip into dependency, to get US citizenship. The traitor Ted Kennedy designed this system and abolished the National Origins Formula in 1965, almost certainly with the aim of securing votes for Democrats. Since 1965, US immigration policy has been designed to attract the worst sort of immigrant. That policy places considerations like family reunification ahead of America’s economic, cultural, and even security interests.

I like Coulter’s approach. While I don’t see myself being a single-issue activist until 2016, we must insist that the amnesty and border issues are seriously addressed by all candidates in a principled,  conservative way. That means freed from the influence of political correctness, the most un-conservative and powerful Hispanic immigration lobby, or flawed notions about attracting Hispanic voters. Rand Paul is a sensible person, and I am sure he can be made compromise on the matter, whatever his natural inclinations.

After all, if Rand Paul is going to save America, there needs to be an America to save.