Immigration Binging Isn’t Good for Us

More Misinformation from the Media:

One aspect of Donald Trump that has particularly bothered me has been his denunciations of immigrants. . . . I hope . . . [to] make people realize that we are all the descendants of immigrants. If you are a Native American, maybe your ancestors came 15,000 years ago; if you are English, perhaps 400 years ago. . . .

Yes, immigration brings challenges, including security risks that we’ve seen with terrorism. Yes, there are challenges, with immigrants sometimes displacing low-skilled workers in particular. But above all, immigrants bring hard work, diversity, and global connections. On balance, they strengthen this country. So we can’t have open borders, but neither should we vilify immigrants and scapegoat them. Because they are us. Right, Mr. Trump? – Speaking the Truth to Trump on Immigration, The Opinion Pages, The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof, 1/18/17.

Fact Check: President Trump has never denounced vetted legal immigrants. However, he did state that some illegal aliens are dangerous criminals. Why that obviously true statement should be controversial is hard to understand. In any case, immigration enthusiasts have seized it for their purposes. As they so commonly do, they conflate legal and illegal immigrants as if there is no difference between the two. Their notion at least suggests that they have little regard for American law and sovereignty—which further suggests that they have little regard for America, at least as most citizens understand the meaning.

The claim “we are all immigrants,” or descended from immigrants, is not strictly true. By general understanding, an immigrant is one who moves to a settled society. The people who pioneered and settled it, as well as their descendants, technically aren’t immigrant stock. Those who settled and laid the foundation of what is today our country were primarily the English settlers of 400 years ago and for some time thereafter. This “Englishness” is evident in our language and much of our culture.

But even if one accepts the idea that we are all immigrants and their descendants, this in no way implies what the immigration enthusiasts insinuate, namely that we are forever bound as “a nation of immigrants”  to welcome the entire world to our shores. An analogy will illustrate. Let’s say that Joe applies for a job at the Acme Corporation. He informs the interviewer that he must be hired simply because he is applying. “After all,” he says, “nearly everyone here was once a job applicant like me, so Acme is a ‘company of job applicants’—so you must employ me.”

One might imagine that the interviewer would reply, “Acme doesn’t exist to hire people; it hires people to serve its corporate purposes such as providing quality products and making a profit.” Similarly, America as a nation, doesn’t exist to admit immigrants. It exists first and foremost to serve its citizens and its national interests. A reasonable level of immigration might serve those purposes, but unending mass immigration doesn’t and never will.

Kristof implies immigration-derived diversity is an unmitigated benefit, one that always “strengthens this country.” But is diversity always good? That’s like asking if alcohol is good. It depends on the amount. Some scientists say that a glass of wine a day will promote good health. But does that prove that binge drinking whiskey will make you even healthier?

Since 1965, the U.S. has binged on immigration and diversity, and the consequences have not been good. One confirmation of this reality came from Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam who extensively studied the impact of diversity in cities across the country. He found that the more diversity there was, the less social and civic cohesion there was—a situation which doesn’t bode well for our national future. As a supporter of diversity, he was bothered by his findings.

Kristof deserves credit for acknowledging that there at least some downsides to immigration and that keeping our borders totally open is not a good idea. Nevertheless, he seems far closer to that position than any understanding of the need to moderate excessive immigration. He and journalists like him are much more inclined to “vilify and scapegoat” immigration restrictionists than paying heed to their legitimate concerns.


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