No Time for Immigration?- Part 2

The questions I raised last week 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 may be 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 next week 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 are being used by those against immigration today.  The difference is we now have the advantage of hindsight to see how much validity they have.  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 as excessive moral laxity, uncleanliness and crime.  

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 immigrants who now take their privileges and luxuries for granted.  Can anyone doubt the power of democracy and our constitution?  

There is 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 naivete, they think just leaving things alone will produce such a policy.   “Lets let everyone come in whenever they want to and everything will be okay.”  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.  Those who do not want to come to America 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.  

Time for Questions:

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? Can you help quell the anger and rhetoric that fuels much of the “anti-immigration” debate?  Can you speak out and support those who want to make America a home as much as your ancestors did? 

Life is just beginning. 

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Greg Gorman
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 23:30:20

    Immigration 2

    1. Can you help this happen?
    I assume that you’re asking about “fair immigration”. I guess that depends on what you mean by “fair”. Our government has a fair immigration policy. There are quotas which permit various numbers of people to apply for residency. Certain countries are allocated different amounts of candidates. Those applying are further separated by skill set. If these regulations were followed there wouldn’t be the difficulties that we presently face. Our country has these problems because our borders are not secure, nor do we have a proper tracking mechanism to identify people who overstay there their visas.
    The issue at hand is that we cannot control our borders, and those who arrive are given jobs in spite of its illegality. So we must deal with the situation that exists and simultaneously take action that will prevent a reoccurrence of this very troubling situation.
    As a member of Organization for Action, a progressive 501 4c, we interface with our congressmen to advance the cause of justice as we see it. In this situation we seek fairness for those illegal workers who now find themselves identified as criminals. Deportation is impossible. What’s needed is path to citizenship for these folks, and a fast track to citizenship for the “Dreamers”. The news we get from congress indicates that we will soon find a consensus which will include securing the borders and providing a clear and obtainable path to citizenship.
    2. Can you fight against the prejudice of others to keep our shores open to those in need?
    I hope that when you ask that our borders be open to those in need that you’re not asking that any and all people who are in need should be invited to live here. I would question what criteria you would apply to qualify for this invitation? I would guess that most of the peoples of Africa are in need. If invitations were sent to China to allow their bottom 10% that would create an additional 250 million individuals thereby doubling the population. The reservation of some citizens to restrict the number of arrivals isn’t prejudice, it’s common sense to protect this nation from the ramifications of over population.
    3. Can you add your voice to those who want a fair immigration policy?
    I have added my voice to advocate for fair treatment of all persons who live in this great nation. I have contacted not only my representatives but their leadership. I’ m sure that you have as well. Perhaps you could include the text of your communication as part of your 3rd installment, and thereby showing others how this can be done.
    4. Can you help quell the anger and rhetoric that fuels much of the “anti-immigration” debate?
    The anger and rhetoric will end when a workable immigration policy becomes law. Rest assured it will address both sides of the issue. The most difficult part will be to monitor and prosecute those businesses who unlawfully hire those who have not or refuse to be part of the path to citizenship that this legislation will finally offer.
    5. Can you speak out and support those who want to make America a home as much as your ancestors did?
    As I mentioned earlier, I have done this; I am doing this; and I will continue make my voice heard. However, I do feel that our ancestors left their homes with a great deal of apprehension. I find it difficult to believe that one would their native land if they could see a bright future for themselves at home.
    For this reason, I believe that everyone would be much happier if our foreign policy included money and methods to improve their existing economy and thus remove the necessity of leaving relatives, friends, and culture. This nation and its priorities have change greatly since the 19th century. Our doors are still open, but they are open in measured, fair, and prudent fashion.
    Finally, I want you to know that I have been getting myself educated on this issue and many others, and it’s my goal to someday, if I try real hard, I’ll be as educated as you.

    Reply

  2. Fred Broussard
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 04:25:11

    “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” belongs to everyone. The world now has a couple billion people of surplus democratic labor seeking those things we once considered limited to our democracy.

    9/11 plus many global socioeconomic factors radically changed American’s expectations regarding immigration. Those expectations are greater than ever in history. The thinking that got us here will not solve the problems we face today.

    We exploited what was once limited cheap agriculture labor for everything..as individuals for home help as well as for industrial jobs.

    Billions of dollars were saved for consumers. It worked as long as we had jobs for a majority of citizens and sufficient tax revenue to cover welfare for those immigrating..legally and illegally. European immigrants were held strictly to INS regulations but those from Mexico were conveniently excepted…simply walk across and you can touch the American dream.

    The game has changed as we slept. Technology and the Internet leveled the playing field. Foreign states like India and China relaxed rules for free enterprise concepts and are providing highly educated people beyond what we can create..and they work cheap. Cheap dollars abound too, empowering foreign investments to supply work for those billions of foreign workers and low cost products for U.S. shoppers focused mainly on “cheap”.

    No one in our country wants to yield anything but in spite of our entitlement attitude, we’ll never have the access we once had. When supply and demand must be shared globally, the “haves ” lose; “have nots” gain.

    All these factors make Immigrants in this country a greater threat than ever before. Run them all out instantly and the cost of goods and services will soar.

    The problem would be less of a challenge if we’d not intentionally left our Southern border’s flood gates open for so long. Greed got the best of us..again!

    As that old cartoon character, Pogo, said long ago..”We have met the enemy and he is us”. The immigrant is being scapegoated too often and he was merely pursuing “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Gee, can’t imagine anyone want to do such a dastardly deed.

    Our border must be more secure than ever before but what we do about immigration, needs to be done with understanding and compassion..things too few people exhibit.

    Reply

    • johnpersico
      Nov 26, 2013 @ 18:28:32

      I agree Fred. The world has changed and the “old” rules have changed. We must be flexible, open minded, fair and compassionate in setting up a new immigration system. Personally, I don’t like guards, gates and walls and don’t see them as productive or useful. You must also consider the role of drugs in the problem as they are at least 1/2 of the problem with immigration from south of our border.

      Reply

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