No Time for Immigrants: Part 2

The questions I raised yesterday on immigration can be summarized very succinctly into one overarching question.  Do immigrants benefit or hurt the USA in today’s global world?  If you believe that they absolutely do no good for our country or our economy than you are anti-immigration.  This is an honest position and a sensible one if your opponents cannot show that immigration on balance does benefit our country.   If you believe that under certain conditions and within certain constraints, it may do some good or perhaps a great amount of good for our country than you are for a fair immigration policy. There is a big difference between anti-immigration and fair immigration.  Many of the arguments and positions advanced today are anti-immigration.  However, a fair immigration policy must create a balanced win-win for our nation and for those immigrants seeking to become a part of it.  If you are for a fair immigration policy, then you must educate yourself on this issue and demand that those who lead us do all they can to create such an equitable immigration policy.  To demand any less, is to damage the fabric of this country.  Assuming of course, that you see the benefits immigration can have.   
Now some of you may be thinking, well “what about illegal immigration,” where does this fit in.  I think this question needs a blog of its own and tomorrow I will try to address this issue.  Suffice it to say for now, that I am not for allowing anyone to enter this country illegally. However there is a still a big chasm between an anti-immigration policy and a fair immigration policy.   Let’s look at some comments from anti-immigration people.   
“The mighty tides of immigration bring to us not only different languages, opinions, customs and principles, but hostile races, religions and interests, and the traditional prejudices of generations with a large amount of turbulence, disorganizing theories, pauperism and demoralization…I freely acknowledge that among such masses of immigrants there are men of noble intellect.  But the number is lamentably small.”  – Garrett Davis
 “The real objection to immigration lies in the changed conditions that have come about in the United States themselves. These conditions now dominate and control the tendencies that immigration manifests.  At the present time they are giving to the country a surplus of cheap labor – a greater supply than our industries and manufacturing enterprises need.”– Frank Julian Warne  
“It is an incontrovertible truth that the civil institutions of the United States of America have been seriously affected, and that they now stand in imminent peril from the rapid and enormous increase of the body of residents of foreign birth, imbued with foreign feelings, and of an ignorant and immoral character, who receive under the present lax and unreasonable laws of naturalization, the elective franchise and the right of eligibility to political office.”  Declaration of the Native American National Convention.
I confess I was having a hard time sorting out the arguments for and against immigration until I came upon a series of articles comprising debates for and against immigration that were written in the 1800’s.  Suddenly, I could see the same arguments (in slightly more modern language) that were being used by those against immigration today.  The difference is we now have the advantage of hindsight to see how much validity they had.  The comment by Santayana that “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it” started ringing in my mind.”   Let me make this clearer.  Take the first quote above.  This is from an article by Garrett Davis “America Should Discourage Immigration” written in 1849.  Garrett was appalled by the number of Germans and Irish that were coming over and sought to persuade the government that we needed to strongly discourage such immigration.  Everyone knew that the Germans and Irish were “mixed up with a large amount of idleness, moral degradation and crime.”  It is not too hard to find those today who still argue that new immigrants from new countries are also prone to such problems. 
The second quote is from Frank Warne and was excerpted from the Immigration Invasion, written by Warne in 1913.  Franks main concern was that all the Italian, Greek and Slavic immigrants coming over would lower wage rates and prevent America from developing the technology it needed to compete globally.  Warne said:  “Immigration tends to retard the invention and introduction of machinery which would otherwise do this rough labor for us.”  Looking back over the period from 1913 to 1990 can anyone find any validity in this argument?  The USA was arguably the most productive nation in the world from at least the early 1900’s to the late 1900’s.  
The third quote is from a prominent anti-immigration group and was written in 1845.  According to this group, the USA would decay from within as the new residents would not adjust to the American Way of life.  I think it can be said that from the early Pilgrims right up until the present time, we have not seen the American Way of Life yet corrupted by any successive wave of immigration regardless of what nation they were from.  There is a saying in organization development which goes “put a good person in a bad system and the system will win every time.”  I think the reverse of this saying is also true and it explains the greatness of our nation. 
 
Put a “bad” or at least a new person in a good system and the system will also win every time. New immigrants become creative honest hardworking and hard driving Americans. Proud of their new nation and willing to work even harder than the old generation of immigrations which now take their privileges and luxuries for granted.  Can anyone doubt the power of democracy and our constitution?           This leads me to one fallacy which I think is argued by the liberal-immigration forces.  I regard the liberals as those who would just let everyone in and do not see the need for a fair and equitable immigration policy.  In their naiveté, they think just leaving things alone will produce such a policy.   
The liberal-immigration groups will often argue that the best, brightest and hardest working leave their country to come to America and the rest stay home.  They are either too lazy or stupid to leave.  This concept is a sort of social Darwinism and it is advanced as an argument in favor of immigration and more liberal policies towards it.  However, I see no evidence that the people who stay home are any different from those who come to our shores.  People are people.  The first settlers to come to America were from a wide range of social and economic conditions.  Many in Europe were glad to get rid of them.  We would probably regard many of these first settlers as illiterate, radical and dangerous.  Nevertheless, they built the nation we now call home.  To argue that we should allow more immigration because they are the best and brightest is self-serving and short sighted.  Short sighted in that it overlooks the power of our nation’s values and ideals to assimilate all who enter this nation.  Self-serving since it suggests that we overlook the downtrodden and oppressed in favor of only those who appear to fit our elite definitions of the “best and brightest.”  
Let’s all work towards a fair immigration policy.  Let’s give up any anti-immigration rhetoric as incompatible with our American ideals.  Forevermore, history has shown that immigration has helped to make our nation great.  Let’s work together to create a plan to help our nation remain a beacon of light to those who are down trodden and oppressed.  We need a fair immigration policy that becomes further evidence to the world of the Great American Experiment.  Can you help this happen?  Can you fight against the prejudice of others to keep our shores open to those in need?  Can you add your voice to those who want a fair immigration policy? 

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. bgalbreath
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 16:56:48

    I agree that we need a fair system. There are many unfair aspects to the current methods by which people enter this country. I don't think it's the biggest problem, but for some reason what bothers me the most is the unfairness wreaked on those who go through the procedures we have set up under law to immigrate to the US. We have quotas and a long formal application process. It amounts to standing in line for a long time. Those people who are waiting are being treated unfairly when we tolerate others just walking across our borders or entering on temporary visas and just staying or using sham marriages. I don't know how we can prevent those abuses short of a draconian, even totalitarian surveillance system, so, for now, I have to live with what I perceive as unfairness. Decades ago, I used to subscribe to the liberal open boarders approach. Let anyone come here who can find a way to get here. I no longer think that approach is practical, but at least it would be fair to all would-be immigrants.

    Reply

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