Immigration always seems to be a very divisive issue, whether there is an election on the horizon or not. Over the years, laws (which are the ultimate embodiment of policies) have been passed to limit the number of immigrants that the United States is willing to accept.
The number of immigrants, the countries from which America will accept immigrants, the limits to what the immigrant can or cannot do once they arrive (e.g., an educational/student visa allows only a limited number of options to the immigrant) and so on have been adjusted from time to time.
But upon what basis are they adjusted? What is our underlying policy regarding immigration?
I was once told by a co-worker that policies were like cancer. No one was actually sure where they came from, but you couldn’t ignore them. It seems that we’ve just been told that the immigration issue is now extremely serious, and we can’t ignore it, or treat it (if I might continue the analogy) by saying “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”
Policy should be formulated in response to objective reality, not wishful thinking. The first reality that has to be recognized is that all immigration is driven by the desire of the immigrant, not of the country to which the immigrant is seeking entry. I’ve never heard of any nation posting “New Citizens Wanted. Inquire within.” The motivation is always on the part of the immigrant.
Even so-called Native Americans are immigrants. Granted they migrated between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago across the Bering Strait while it was covered with ice, but nonetheless they, too, are immigrants. In their case, the motivation for emigrating out of Siberia is a little hazy, to be sure, but shortages of food during an ice age would be a likely suspect.
The Jamestown Colony of Virginia, founded in 1608, was established by immigrants driven by a quest for wealth. The Pilgrims in 1620 were immigrants driven by a quest for religious freedom. The Irish, during the Irish Potato Famine, probably had the most in common with the original Native Americans in that they were driven by starvation.
Each and every succeeding wave of immigration, regardless of the country of origin, was driven by people wanting to better their lives and their belief that America offered a much better chance of that than where ever it was that they lived before boarding a boat to head across one of the oceans that guarded the country.
When each of these waves of immigrants arrived here, it was, for them, a case of sink-or-swim. There was no welfare. There were no bi-lingual classes in school. There were no foreign language television shows. There was overt, blatant discrimination.
And there were definitely no streets paved with gold.
Yet still they came.
Of course for most of the period since Europeans began landing on our shores, America was relatively unpopulated. The nation needed more people. As the population grew, we needed farmers and ranchers to feed all the new citizens. We needed people to mine the iron, coal and other minerals from the soil. We needed builders, carpenters, doctors, and every other skill that could be imagined. And all these skilled craftsmen needed wives. We needed people to develop the nation. Recognizing that need, we welcomed them with open arms. That need is no longer the case.
There are still enormous numbers of people who want to come to America, even with all the economic problems we currently face. Millions of people from south of the border travel with some risk through Mexico, across deserts, sneak past Border Patrol Agents, and live in hiding. Some of these immigrants benefit from the social programs that have grown up over the past century, some do not, but nearly all immigrants who enter the country illegally benefit from some form of government benefits. Schooling for their children and what is essentially free health care come immediately to mind.
The President has suggested that we offer those who chose not to wait in line, who decided to break our laws and invade our homeland, a path to become citizens. Voting citizens.
And what is his rationale? Well, he tells us, when these people came to the United States, they were only children. He offers them a path to citizenship if they get an education here, at our expense. To be fair, he also offers an alternative path if they serve in our armed forces.
Admission to the United States with a path toward citizenship should be offered only to those who want to become Americans and not just become citizens. And yes there is a difference.
Those individuals who come to America for financial gain only will never be Americans. They will simply be Syrians, Egyptians, Somalis, Russians or Greeks who are looking to increase their personal wealth. But they will try to create a little Syria or a little Russia within this country and never assimilate themselves as Americans. Some do not even try.
Examples of this are plentiful, with Major Hasan of the Fort Hood massacre infamy coming to mind. Parents who either kill their daughters in an “honor” killing style, or bring these same daughters back to Pakistan, for instance, to force them into a marriage are also exemplars of the problem. They are the ones who still think female genital mutilation is just peachy. They are the ones who make little or no effort to learn English so that they can communicate with Americans raised in this country. They are the ones who live in self-created ghettos, surrounded by others from their own countries (note: not our country, but theirs). Granting that every wave of immigrants tends to do the very same thing doesn’t minimize the isolation from Americans that occurs, and doesn’t aid in assimilating the adult immigrant into the American main stream. This is particularly true when these immigrant communities bring with them religious leaders who decry all things American from their pulpits.
So how should we cope with this? Well, one thing that we should not do is admit immigrants based on mere numbers by country. This appears to be a bow in the direction of the über-liberal belief in diversity making all things better. Should we be setting immigration policy based on the fantasies of academics that are nearly as isolated from the reality of the American mainstream as a Chinese peasant on the Mongolian border would be?
The answer to that question is self-evident, and the answer is No! For confirmation, just ask the victims of Major Hasan, of the dead daughters of immigrants who merely wanted to wear blue jeans like their classmates and not a burqa.
Will this deny immigration from some Islamic nations? Will such a policy hurt those Muslims who desperately want to escape the horrors of living under Sharia law? Of course it will. But how do you determine whether someone has been merely exposed to a plague, developed antibodies to it and survived, or whether they are still active carriers of the disease. The CDC would undoubtedly err on the side of caution and vote in favor of quarantine. So too must the State Department, Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and the White House recognize that quarantine is an effective preventive form of treatment.
Admitting only immigrants from nations that already have at least some history of successful democratic governance would be another sensible policy. Venezuela, for instance, has a façade of democratic governance, but it is obvious to anyone that it is only a façade. There is no real democracy in that nation; no matter how much Hugo Chavez claims to have been “democratically elected.” For that matter, Saddam Hussein made exactly the same claim.
Will establishing a rational policy that takes these truths into account be all that is necessary? Naturally not.
At a minimum, the United States must determine what skills are needed by American businesses, how many graduates from our colleges and universities in those needed disciplines will be forthcoming in the future, and how large a shortfall of supply over demand appears likely. If we need an additional 100,000 mechanical engineers, then engineers should get priority over all other applicants for immigration visas that do not have that particular skill set. There will be those, to the left-of-center, who will scream bloody murder about this preference only being of benefit to American businesses. In fact the benefit will go to the entire country. Assuming that we only admit those immigrants who have the skills that are needed, they will almost immediately go to work, they will almost immediately start paying taxes and they will not be draining our social welfare entitlements. Businesses will be able to grow, and that growth will require more people to be hired, who are not (to use this example) engineers, but accountants, assembly line workers, and similar positions.
The fact that these preferred immigrants are getting a priority over others who have waited, perhaps for years, to be admitted into the United States is unfortunate, but we didn’t invite them to come here, and we have every right to choose who we will welcome. Being on a waiting list does not equate to preferential treatment akin to seniority. It is a cold, hard truth, but the key word being truth.
The old saw that “America was built by immigrants” might be true, but it is not a rational basis for establishing immigration policy when there are already more people in the country than jobs, when the population has already been Balkanized by left wing politicians who are trolling for votes, and there seems to be no improvement for these problems on the horizon. Perhaps it’s time to rethink not only what our immigration policy is, but what basis should be used to craft a new, saner replacement.
Originally published at Canada Free Press.