Guide Alien Nation: Common Sense About Americas Immigration Disaster

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Brimelow notes that the immigration issue never surfaced in the Ferguson case because it was tantamount to "racism" and "immigrant bashing". Given the fact that investigators found notes on Ferguson that detailed his racial hatred, it is bewildering why no one in the media raised the point as to whether Ferguson's actions constituted a "hate crime. Consider the review of Alien Nation that appeared in Reason magazine. The reviewer, John J. Miller, vice president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, distorts Brimelow's point about the Ferguson case.

While he claims that Brimelow's reasoning is faulty: "Colin Ferguson is an immigrant. Colin Ferguson is bad. Therefore, all immigrants are bad," Miller only reinforces Brimelow's initial argument, namely that there are two sides of the immigration debate, not just one as claimed by those who believe that "immigration is good, but concern about immigration bad. Christopher Farrell's review in Business Week is similar in tone and argument. He describes Alien Nation as an "Unconvincing book" then adds,.

The author's reasoning eventually becomes absurd as he depicts the nefarious immigrant at work behind every high-profile social, political or economic problem--from crime to environmental destruction. In a bizarre digression, for example, he remarks that if Colin Ferguson hadn't emigrated to the U. Although Ferguson was eventually convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life for each of the slayings, the case itself is not an isolated incident.

The World Trade Center bombings carried out by Islamic extremists , the killing of CIA employees outside CIA headquarters, and the more recent murder-suicide episode at Harvard reveal the fatal consequences of current U. An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page.

If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. Read preview. Brimelow's analy- sis, and the distinctive nationalist point of view it expresses, contribute in a bold and original way to the debate on immigration. Those who wish to argue with him must contend with a born polemicist, who has been careful to anticipate counterarguments.

He makes his case gently, with a cheerful buoyancy. A valuable contribu- tion. The View from the Tenth Circle 25 3. The Pincers 58 4. How Did It Happen? Why Did It Happen? So What? Immigration Has Consequences: Economics 8. Immigration Has Consequences: Political Power Doing The Right Thing? What, Then, Is to Be Done? Conclusion: The Bowels of Christ? Underlying Immigration: Trend Still Up 32 3. Recurrent Immigration: The Crisis Returns 34 4. Immigration Compared to U. Population: A Statistical Mirage?

Net Immigration to the U. Population Growth 43 7. The Third World Overhang 5 1 Immigrant Skills: Losing Ground Immigrants and Welfare: Sinking Deeper And, in the case of American immigration history, there are also myths. All very confusing. Herewith, a brief blazed trail: First permanent English settlement at Jamestown, Vir- ginia. The "Open Door Era' — Immigration actually regu- lated by colonies, later states, until , with object of keeping out criminals, paupers and occasionally other groups considered undesirable, such as Irish servants.

Initially from northern and western Europe, Blacks finally guaranteed U. Supreme Court rules immigration federal, not state, responsibility. First explicit recognition of refugees as a permanent, distinct immigrant stream. Amnesty for many illegal immigrants. Further increases legal immigration, institutes small immigration lottery for countries squeezed out by workings of system.

The U. Eventually, it enacted the epochal Immigration Act technically, the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of And this, quite acci- dentally, triggered a renewed mass immigration, so huge and so sys- tematically different from anything that had gone before as to transform — and ultimately, perhaps, even to destroy — the one un- questioned victor of World War II: the American nation, as it had evolved by the middle of the twentieth century. Today, U. But the fact is undeni- able. American immigration policy has always been democratic, of course, in the sense that it has been made through democratic procedures.

Right now, as a matter of fact, it's unusually undemocratic, in the sense that Americans have told pollsters long and loudly that they don't want any more immigration; but the politicians ignore them. I suspect that Time magazine, like Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts in their conversation on ABC's This Week with David Brinkley that heads this chapter, must feel vaguely that "democ- racy" has something to do with everyone in the world being treated equally.

Which is not how current U. Their notion of democracy, in other words, has degenerated to the point where it is assumed to require invalidating the right to an independent existence of the very demos, people, community, that is supposed to be taking deci- sions on its own behalf. Democracy becomes self-liquidating, like the famous bird allegedly discovered by World War II aviators that flew around in ever-decreasing circles until it finally, remarkably, disappeared.

Personally, I doubt it will prove possible to run the United States, or any other society, on this principle. Again, as an immigrant, I don't agree. In this book, I discuss the surprising evidence that immigration is, and probably always has been, much less important to American economic growth than is conventionally assumed. America took off, economically and in- deed morally, in the Colonial Era.

That momentum continues, al- beit now increasingly obscured. But note that I am not saying that immigration, particularly se- lected immigration, is always without value— just that it is at most a luxury, rather than a necessity. I naturally like to think that my employers would miss my unique contribution.

However, I am fairly sure that they would sur- vive. As a financial journalist, I am professionally inclined to find the economic argument about immigration compelling. But I know from experience that it is not. People habitually justify their immi- gration preferences in economic terms, but really they are moti- vated by a wide range of ethnic, moral and even psychological agendas.

These agendas are not necessarily illegitimate although I suspect most Americans would find some of them rather startling if they realized what they were. The point, however, is that they should be discussed. I don't agree with this economic analy- sis either. But in this book, I act as if it were true. In discussing the many aspects of immigration policy, I inevitably touch on some is- sues of race and ethnicity that in American debate nowadays are usually taboo. Taboos, however, are not just a matter of cowardice and men- dacity.

They also reflect a sincere human reluctance to give offense which is why they tend to become rampant in diverse societies. Although it may sometimes appear otherwise, I am not abnormally anxious to give offense. I'm sorry that some readers may find parts of this book distressing, particularly when they are civilians, guilt- less of the practice of journalism or politics.

The job, however, must be done.

Race and ethnicity are destiny in American politics. The racial and ethnic balance of America is being radically altered through public policy. This can only have the most profound effects. Is it what Americans want? And the taboo that prevents this simple reality from being de- bated also prevents discussion of the most obvious irrationalities in current immigration policy — such as its perverse de facto discrimi- nation against skilled immigrants; and against those countries that, by accident, were not first through the door after There is a fundamental distinction to be made between immigra- tion in principle and immigration in practice.

Obeisance to the for- mer is preventing observation of the latter. But I believe that they will also be left disagreeing with at least some of the workings of the post- immigration system. The only issue is: how much? And what do Americans want? I don't believe, after long and careful inspection, that they want anything very terrible for their fellow human beings. They seem to me as if they would accept any immigrant, of any complexion including plaid, given minimum goodwill and good intentions.

Which, however, I also suspect are now often lacking. But there are limits. Enough, as Americans in- variably say in private conversation, is enough. This is not an unreasonable position. Unfortunately, and greatly to the discredit of the American political elite, there is no longer a respectable language in which to express it.

I like to think of this book as a sort of toolkit of arguments for ordinary Americans. Some immigration enthusiasts will resent having their tranquillity disturbed. But their choice is to hear arguments for reform now, or for total restriction later. Some readers of this book when it was still in manuscript have told me that my view of human nature is pessimistic.

I am reluctant to accept this. I argue that the force that makes human differences an unavoidable, albeit not unmanageable, social reality is also pre- cisely the force that makes individuals sacrifice their lives for their children. Whether this is nasty or profoundly noble is a matter of taste.

Probably it is both. Either way, it exists. I have also been told that I do not give sufficient credit to the idealistic, radical, even millenarian strain in the American political tradition. And this may well be true. My reading of the Founding Fathers, and their practical political tradition, is that they were in the main conservative realists. American political rhetoric, by con- trast, certainly is often millenarian, right back to Common Sense, my fellow English immigrant Tom Paine's famous rationalization of the American Revolution. But that's not the same thing. Nevertheless, when you debate immigration with its American enthusiasts, you reach the pained assertion "But America's differ- ent!

This is an alarming indication of how influential we wordsmiths and rhetoricians can be, even when wrong — and also of how desperately thin the substantive ar- guments for this immense historic gamble turn out to be, when given even the most casual prod. You can hardly argue with this sort of faith. But you can doubt it. A generation ago, anti-Vietnam War demonstrators wittily re- torted to the prospect of the military draft: "Not with my life you don't! There is confusion nowadays about what it means to be a "nation," and a "nation-state.

But, essentially, a nation is a sort of extended family. It links individual and group, parent and child, past and future, in ways that reach beyond the rational to the most profound and elemental in the human experience. The mass immigration so thoughtlessly triggered in risks making America an alien nation — not merely in the sense that the numbers of aliens in the nation are rising to levels last seen in the nineteenth century; not merely in the sense that America will become a freak among the world's nations because of the unprece- dented demographic mutation it is inflicting on itself; not merely in the sense that Americans themselves will become alien to each other, requiring an increasingly strained government to arbitrate between them; but, ultimately, in the sense that Americans will no longer share in common what Abraham Lincoln called in his First Inaugural Address "the mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth stone, all over this broad land In this country English will be just one of the many languages commonly spoken and more than half the population will be people of color.

Comment on the environment in which you grew up; has it prepared you for these changes? What knowledge and skills do you need for the twenty-first century? Admissions Essay, Tufts University, From time to time while struggling with this book, and ear- lier, while writing the humongous "Time to Rethink Immi- gration?

Alexander James Frank Brimelow is an American although I was still a British subject, and his mother a Canadian, when he shot into the New York Hospital delivery room, yelling indig- nantly, one summer dawn in This is because of the Four- teenth Amendment to the U. It states in part: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

But the wording is general. So it has been in- terpreted to mean that any child born in the United States is auto- matically a citizen. Even if its mother is a foreigner. Even if she's just passing through. This "birthright citizenship" is by no means the rule among industrialized countries. Even if you are born in a manger, the Japanese, French and Germans say in effect, that still doesn't make you a bale of hay. The British used to have birthright citizen- ship, but in they restricted it — requiring for example that one parent be a legal resident — because of problems caused by immi- gration.

I am delighted that Alexander is an American. However, I do feel slightly, well, guilty that his fellow Americans had so little choice in the matter.

Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster by Peter Brimelow

But at least Maggy and I had applied for and been granted legal permission to live in the United States. There are currently an es- timated 3. And right now, two thirds of the births in Los Angeles County hospitals are to illegal-immigrant mothers. One sur- vey of new Hispanic mothers in California border hospitals found that 15 percent had crossed the border specifically to give birth, of whom a quarter said that their motive was to ensure U.

The heart of the problem: immigration. That was easily a record. It exceeded by almost a third the previous peak of almost 1. The United States has been engulfed by what seems likely to be the greatest wave of immigration it has ever faced. The INS estimates that 12 to 13 million legal and illegal immigrants will enter the United States during the decade of the s. The Washington, D. An independent ex- pert, Daniel James, author of Illegal Immigration — An Unfolding Crisis, has argued that it could be as high as 1 8 million. The extraordinary truth is that, in almost all cases, Americans will have little more say over the arrival of these new claimants on their national community — and voters on their national future — than over the arrival of Alex- ander.

This is because it's not just illegal immigration that is out of con- trol. So is legal immigration. Whether these foreigners deign to come and make their claim on America — and on the American taxpayer — is pretty much up to them. This results in the anecdotal happy-talk good-news coverage of immigration that we all know and love: XYZ was just Harvard's valedictorian — XYZ arrived in the U.

Now, the achievement of immigrants to the United States more accurately, of some immigrants to the United States is indeed one of the most inspiring, and instructive, tales in human history. Nev- ertheless, there are still two sides to the question. Thus we might, equally reasonably, expect to see balancing anecdotal coverage like this: In January , a Pakistani applicant for political asylum and, simultaneously, for amnesty as an illegal immigrant opens fire on em- ployees entering CIA headquarters, killing two and wounding three!

In February , a gang of Middle Easterners most illegally overstay- ing after entering on non-immigrant visas — one banned as a terrorist but admitted on a tourist visa in error blow up New York's World Trade Center, killing six and injuring more than 1,!! In December , a Jamaican immigrant admitted as a student but stayed, illegal status automatically regularized after marriage to a U. With a little help from President Clinton, talking the very next day at a lunch for journal- ists, it was rapidly converted into another argument for gun con- trol.

You can be for or against gun control. Arguably, the proposed federal legislation would not have helped here because Ferguson bought his gun legally, in Cali- fornia, which already requires proof of identity and a fifteen-day waiting period. But Ferguson's own writings showed him to be motivated by ha- tred of whites. And this racial antagonism is a much deeper prob- lem. In any rational mind, it must raise the question: Is it really wise to allow the immigration of people who find it so difficult and painful to assimilate into the American majority? Because the fact cannot be denied: if Ferguson and the others had not immigrated, those fourteen Americans would not have been killed.

Although we might reasonably expect to see such balancing media coverage of immigration, don't hold your breath. There are powerful taboos preventing it. I discuss them in Chapter 6, on page The result, however, is that the American immigration debate has been a one-way street. Criticism of immigration, and news that might support it, just tends not to get through.

In This Review

This is no mere journalism-school game of balancing anecdotes. It involves the broadest social trends. For example, the United States is in the midst of a serious crime epidemic. Yet almost no Americans are aware that aliens make up one quarter of the prisoners in federal penitentiaries — almost three times their proportion in the population at large.

Americans have been told repeatedly that some 30 to 40 million people in the country have no health insur- ance at any one point in time. Typically, nobody seems to know how many are immigrants. But immigrants certainly make up a disproportionate share — particularly of the real problem: the much smaller hard core, perhaps 6 million, that remains uninsured after two years. We know that about 6 million of the 22 million U. Hispanics are uninsured at any one point. Since almost a third of U.

The hard core of unin- sured, experts confirm, is substantially Hispanic. That probably in- cludes many of the estimated nearly 2 million uninsured illegal immigrants permanently settled here, a heavily Hispanic group. Americans are used to hearing that their schools don't seem to be providing the quality of education that foreigners get. Fewer of them know that the U. Yet the impact of immigration is clearly serious.

For example, in almost one child in every twenty enrolled in American public schools either could not speak English or spoke it so poorly as to need language-assistance programs.


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This number is increasing with striking speed: only six years earlier, it had been one child in thirty- one. To do sb, according to one California estimate, requires spending some 65 percent more per child than on an English-speaking child. And it's not working anyway. The Bureau of the Census recently reported for the first time, because the phenomenon was previously unheard of, that 2.

This involves not just forcing facts through against the traffic on that one-way street, but also getting the traffic moving in some spots where it has stopped completely to rubberneck at the wrong thing. In this book, I show that the immigration resulting from current public policy 1. They will most likely be little more than a quarter.

But the Tufts bureaucrats will get their wish, within the lifetime of my little son — if, and only if, current immigration policy continues. Some of my American readers will be stirring uneasily at this point. They have been trained to recoil from any explicit discussion of race. And anyone who says anything critical of immigration is going to be accused of racism. This is simply a law of modern American political life. When you write a major article in a national magazine, you in effect enter into a conversation with Americans. And part of the conversation I got into by writing my National Review cover story illustrated this law.

It was a muttering match with Virginia Postrel, editor of the libertarian Reason magazine. I pointed out gently that the experiment in question was not America — but instead the Immigration Act and its imminent, unprecedented, ethnic and racial transformation of America. She replied angrily in print This is nonsense and, though I hate to use the term, profoundly un-American.

And that core has been white. A nation, of course, is an interlacing of ethnicity and culture. In- dividuals of any ethnicity or race might be able to acculturate to a national community. And the American national community has certainly been unusually assimilative. But nevertheless, the massive ethnic and racial transformation that public policy is now inflicting on America is totally new — and in terms of how Americans have traditionally viewed themselves, quite revolutionary.

Pointing out this reality may be embarrassing to starry-eyed immigration enthu- siasts who know no history. But it cannot reasonably be shouted down as "racist. I regard her as a friend, and share her fascina- tion with free markets — a professional hazard for me as a financial journalist, like overdeveloped biceps for an arm wrestler. This puts us together in a small, embattled minority.

Another case is Robert L.

Mises Review

Bartley, editor of The Wall Street Journal. He opened his attack in the National Review symposium on my cover story by noting acidly that he had personally helped me immigrate to the United States. But doesn't it show immigration can have unforeseen consequences? Or, too often, a libertarian. And, on the immigration issue, even some confused conservatives. This may sound facetious. But the double standards are irritat- ing. Anyone who has got into an immigration debate with, for ex- ample, Hispanic activists must be instantly aware that some of them really are consumed by the most intense racial animosity — directed against whites.

How come what's sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gansol Still, for the record, I will give a more formal answer. First, it is universally agreed that whatever impact immigration has must fall first on unskilled workers. And in the United States, that means blacks. Nor is this the first time that immigration has adversely affected these poorest of Americans. For more on this, see Chapter 8, pages Per- haps it is immigration enthusiasts, not immigration critics, who should be examining their motives.

Second, I have indeed duly examined my own motives. And I am happy to report that they are pure. I sincerely believe I am not prej- udiced — in the sense of committing and stubbornly persisting in error about people, regardless of evidence — which appears to me to be the only rational definition of "racism. And, because of the rise of affirmative-action quotas, for American individ- uals too.

My son, Alexander, is a white male with blue eyes and blond hair. He has never discriminated against anyone in his little life except possibly young women visitors whom he suspects of being baby- sitters. But public policy now discriminates against him. The sheer size of the so-called "protected classes" that are now politically fa- vored, such as Hispanics, will be a matter of vital importance as long as he lives. And their size is basically determined by immigra- tion. Clearly, in the minds of many immigration enthusiasts, nativists are no different than the Black Hundreds — the anti-Semitic gangs im- plicated in the pogroms that accelerated immigration from Czarist Russia at the turn of the century.

Well, to adapt the song "The Farmer and the Cowman" from the musical Oklahoma! In very significant ways, this common view of them is a myth. The nativists were genuine American originals: members of the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, a secret patriotic society about which its members were instructed to deny knowledge — supposedly the origin of their famous nickname, the Know Nothings. Organiz- ing themselves as the American party in the mids, they scored stunning but short-lived successes on the eve of the Civil War.

But the Know Nothings were far from an ignorant mob, as immi- gration enthusiasts, probably misunderstanding that nickname, tend to assume. Recent research has shown that they were a cross section of solid middle- and upper-middle-class citizens. And the Know Nothings never actually proposed restricting immigration — just that, in the words of the Know Nothing governor of Massa- chusetts, Henry J.

Gardner, Americans should take care to "nation- alize before we naturalize" any new immigrants. Nor were the Know Nothings anti-Semitic. The Know Nothings were, however, deeply suspicious of Roman Catholicism — at a time when enormous Irish Catholic immigration had begun, after the potato famine of 1 Anti-Catholicism is not a sentiment you often find in America today although you can get a whiff of it talking to abortion-rights and gay-rights activists.

And it needs to be set in the context of the time. No doubt bigotry played a part. After all, Pope Pius IX was now fervently denouncing "liberal- ism," by which he meant all free thought and free institutions, and supporting the despotisms that had crushed liberal revolutions all across Europe in Indeed, in , enraged native-born Ameri- cans and immigrant "Exiles of '48" united to riot against the visit of papal nuncio Gaetano Bedini, called "the Butcher of Bologna" be- cause of his role in suppressing the revolt against papal rule there.

Above all, the Know Nothings were against slavery. This stance was critical to their party's rise, when it provided a home for aboli- tionists disgusted with professional politicians' attempts to fudge the issue. And to its fall — forced to choose between abolition and nativism, the Know Nothings chose abolition. Most became Republicans. Several became famous in the Union army. They saw their American national identity as inex- tricably involved with what President John F.

Kennedy, assimilated descendant of that Irish influx, would later call "the survival and success of liberty. They may well have been over- zealous. But their descendants need not feel ashamed of them. And, incidentally, the Know Nothings left one enduring legacy: America's system of secular public schools. It was created largely in response to their concern about "nationalizing" immigrants. Everyone knew the pro-gold "gold bugs" were crazy. And they were crazy, some of them, or at least extremely odd.

They wore funny suits and gave you business cards printed on gold stock. It was only after a while that you realized they were, however, just as fanatical. I've said that anyone saying anything critical of immigration is going to be accused of sin. And perhaps rightly, in some cases. But I also think that Americans favoring immigration have their own moral problem. They are too frequently guilty of what theologians call "enthusiasm" — the tendency to stress the emotional experience of an issue over its rational aspect. Immigration is indeed a very emotional issue for many Ameri- cans.

Ellis Island is on the point of replacing the Winning of the West as the defining American experience.


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Question: Why are there so many big-city cop shows and so few Westerns on television nowadays? But immigration enthusiasts should remember: the gold bugs were right. My current favorite is a recent cover story in American Heritage magazine published by my own employer, Forbes, Harrumph!

After subtly linking me and my National Review article with French crypto-fascists and German neo-Nazis, the writer went on to pro- claim: what is at stake here is nothing less than the essential nature of the United States of America. For example, the first naturalization law, in , stipulated that an applicant must be a "free white person. How much more specific can you get? Maybe America should not have been like this.

But it was. Myth-manufacturing of this type amounts to an intellectual shell game — Americans including, no doubt, many immigration enthu- siasts themselves are being tricked out of their own identity. And it infests U. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

They were added years after the dedication of the statue, which was a gift from France to commemorate the U. And they aren't even true. American immigration has typically been quite selective, if only because the cost of passage was until recently an effective filter. Three quarters of them were literate; their fares were commonly paid by established extended families. For example, immi- gration into the United States was never really completely free. There were always some restrictions.

Immigration from Asia was cut off in the nineteenth century almost as soon as it began. And even European immigration was carefully monitored, for example to screen out potential paupers and threats to public health. Argua- bly, this scrutiny was actually stricter when immigration policy was the responsibility of the individual states, as it was until Nor did intelligence testers ever allege that Jews and other immigrants of that period were disproportionately "feeble-minded.

Goddard, which persists although it was exposed well over a decade ago. This book takes its subtitle from Thomas Paine's famous pamphlet Common Sense, the pas- sionate argument for American independence from Britain that caused a sensation when it was published in early 1 There are some pleasing parallels here.

Like me, Paine was an English immigrant — indeed, he had arrived in Philadelphia from England only just over a year before. But he still put on the Ameri- can cause like a glove. This is what it means to have a common political culture. In a real sense, the American Revolution was a civil war that split both peoples.

Whole regiments of American Loyalists fought for the Crown; eight of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Indepen- dence were British-born. For Paine, the American Revolution was simply a transatlantic version of the radical cause in British politics. Earlier in Common Sense, Paine had made it clear that he was talk- ing about asylum for Europeans "we claim brotherhood with every European Christian".

And he explicitly grounded this claim on a common European culture distinct from that of the rest of the world. Of course, I must modestly decline to make too much of the par- allels between Paine and myself. Apart from anything else, he died a rather sad death, although not in poverty as is sometimes alleged, thanks to the generosity of the New York State government.

An- other parallel I'm not holding my breath about. And he was un- mistakably a man of the Left, something I would hardly presume to claim. As a radical, Paine had a political agenda — the break with Brit- ain. And he read it into his account of the contemporary reality as gaily as any Tufts University Admissions bureaucrat. To minimize the link with Britain, he asserted that "Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America" and that "not one third of the in- habitants, even of this province, are of English descent.

And, of course, some 20 percent of the population were voiceless black slaves. It may be a "Noble Lie," the kind that the classical Greek philosopher Plato thought rulers should tell in order to keep their subjects happy. But it is still flagrantly false. America at the time of the Revolution was biracial, not multira- cial, containing both whites and blacks. And that white nation was multiethnic only in the sense that a stew can be described as half-rabbit, half-horse if it contains one rabbit and one horse.

There were a few unusual fragments in the American stew of But, for better or worse, it tasted distinctly British. Many Americans have difficulty thinking about immigration re- striction because of a lurking fear: This would have kept my grandfa- ther out. In this book, I explore a rich variety of answers to this problem. But it must also be stressed: that was then; this is now. There are important differences between the last Great Wave of Immigration and today's. Then, there was an "Open Door" essentially — and with the major exception of the restriction on Asians.

Now, the reform has re- opened the border in a perversely unequal way. Essentially, it has al- lowed immigrants from some countries to crowd out immigrants from others. The Immigration Act did not open the immigration flood- gates: it opened the immigration scuttles — the influx is very sub- stantial, but it spurts lopsidedly from a remarkably small number of countries, just as when some of the scuttles are opened in one side of a ship. Which is why the United States is now developing an ethnic list — and may eventually capsize.

Your grandfather probably couldn't get in now anyway. Specifically, it's the workings of the Immi- gration Act and its subsequent amendments. This cannot be stressed too much. When cornered. But they are not cornered very often. And there are other differences between the First Great Wave ending in the s and the Second Great Wave of the s.

Then, immigrants came overwhelmingly from Europe, no matter how different they seemed at the time; now, immigrants are over- whelmingly visible minorities from the Third World. Not withstand- ing which — 3. Then, there was no welfare state and immigrants who failed often went home; now, there is a welfare state — and fewer immigrants leave. Then, immigration was stopped. There was a pause for digestion— the Second Great Lull — that lasted some forty years. Now, there's no end in sight. There's more interest in astrology on Wall Street than you might think — or fear.

Libra, I told him. At least, I've never been tempted to offer invest- ment advice. But the immigration debate is peculiarly Libra terri- tory. Immigration is not a subject like abortion, where both sides have been deeply entrenched for years. Instead, it cuts right across nor- mal ideological lines, creating totally unexpected antagonisms and alliances. For example, I have found myself discussing my National Review cover story with a group of environmentalists. Probably both Buchanan and the professional environmentalist lobby in Washington would be equally astounded by news of this emerging electoral bloc.

At present, concern about immigration is regularly dismissed as racism. But historically, it has quite often been a progressive issue in America. Labor unions, fearing cheap labor, have been active re- strictionists. In a powerful article from the liberal perspective in Atlantic Monthly magazine, arguing that im- migration hurts blacks, the Los Angeles Times's Jack Miles wrote, "My strong suspicion is that if FAIR succeeds in launching this de- bate, it will begin on the right [here he cited my National Review story] but quickly be seized by the left.

Writing about immigration forced me to rethink my own attitude toward environmentalism, which like other financial journalists I had tended to view as just another excuse for government regulation. And, at least from the evidence of my conversation with Ameri- cans after my National Review article, immigration is one of those rare issues about which people are willing to change their minds.

For one reason, there is my American toddler, Alexander. He seems to like it here. A second reason: just as Thomas Jefferson said in the eighteenth century that every man has two countries, his own and France, so in this century no civilized person can be indifferent to the fate of America. At the Constitutional Convention, a for- mer regular British army officer, Pierce Butler, was prominent among those delegates wanting a fourteen-year residency require- ment for U. A century later, an Irish immigrant, Dennis Kearney, was a leader of the agitation that halted Chinese immigration into Cali- fornia.

His — probably mythical — slogan: "Americay for Ameri- cans, Begorrahl" The very term "melting pot" comes from a play about Great Wave immigration by an English-born Zionist, Israel Zangwill. Beyond this — I have an infant memory of a time when I am not much older than Alexander. I am playing with my twin brother in the backyard of my aunt's home in a Lancashire cotton town. Sud- denly, great whooping giants in U.

Air Force uniforms although with the crystal-clear recollection of childhood, I now realize that they had the lithe figures of very young men leap out and grab us. We are terrified and struggle free. Which always made me feel bad in subsequent years. They were far from home, lodging with my aunt. And they just wanted a sou- venir photograph. They were the Cold War tail of that vast host that had come to Britain during World War II, when the whole town had resounded night and day to the roar of B engines on the test beds at the great Burtonwood air base, and everyone had been glad to hear them.

They were, as Robert E. Lee once described his troops at a critical point in the Wilderness campaign, not professional soldiers but citizens who had taken up arms for their country. Nevertheless, Housman's "Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries" applies to them: Their shoulders held the sky suspended; They stood, and earth's foundations stay. I don't know what happened to them, although I remember one young wife showing us the first color slides we had ever seen, of Southern California, and explaining that they hoped to move to this breathtaking paradise — it was, remember, the early s — when they got out of the service.

They will be old now, if they are still alive. I don't know what PETER BRIMELOW 22 they or their children think of the unprecedented experiment being performed — apparently by accident and certainly with no appre- hension of the possible consequences — upon the nation they so bravely represented.


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  • I do know, however, that they ought to be asked. It is already happening and it is inescapable. Idont identify with the Pil- grims on a personal level. Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Clinton administration who approves Dante, the great poet of medieval Italy, would have been de- lighted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service's waiting rooms. They would have provided him with a tenth Circle of Hell to add to the nine degrees of damnation he described in his most famous work, the Inferno. There is something distinctly infernal about the INS spec- tacle.

    So many lost souls wait around so hopelessly, mutually in- comprehensible in virtually every language under the sun, each clutching a number from one of those ticket-vending machines which may or may not be honored by the harassed INS clerks before the end of the civil service working day. The danger of damnation is low — sort of. And toward the end of my own ten-year trek through the system, I whiled away a lot of time watching confrontations between suspicious INSers and ag- itated Iranians, apparently hauled in because the Iran hostage crisis had inspired the Carter administration to ask just exactly how many of them there were enrolled as students in U.

    The INS was unable to provide an answer during the hostage crisis's days. Or, as it turned out, at all. Try suggesting that it might be another of those misunderstandings when, having finally reached the head of the line, you are ordered by the clerk to go away and come back another day with a previ- ously unmentioned Form XYZ. Your fellow huddled masses accept this treatment with a horrible passivity.

    Perhaps it is imbued in them by aeons of arbitrary gov- ernment in their native lands. Only rarely is there a flurry of protest. At its center, almost invariably, is an indignant American spouse. Just as New York City's govern- ment can't stop muggers but does a great job ticketing young women on Park Avenue for failing to scoop up after their lapdogs, U.

    Annual legal immigration of about 1 million — counting the , refugees and the , applying for political asylum — is overwhelmed by an estimated 2 to 3 million illegal entries into the country in every recent year. Many of these illegal entrants go back home, of course. In fact, some commute across the border every day. But, year by year, the number of illegal immigrants who settle permanently in the United States grows. A cautious INS estimate: this net illegal immigration has been running at about , to , annually. The INS bureaucracy still grinds through its rituals.

    But the real- ity remains as President Ronald Reagan described it in "This country has lost control of its borders. Much of the current legal immigration can't be kept out either. The majority of those lost souls in the INS waiting room will find salvation, in the form of U.

    This is because most legal immigrants — usually between a half and two thirds — are accepted more or less automatically under the various family-reunification provisions of current U. Then there are refugees, who apply for admission while they are still abroad, and political asylum seekers, who apply once in the United States. And, similarly, the weird workings of the American legal system have made it virtually impossible to expel asylum seek- ers once they land on U.

    In fact in early another immigration scandal erupted: it emerged that foreigners were getting off planes at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport at an annualized rate rising rapidly through 15,, applying for asylum and, because of lack of detention space, being released into the United States on a promise to present them- selves at a future hearing, which not more than 5 percent ever did.

    An unofficial INS estimate is that eight out of every ten asylum applicants end up staying in the United States quite regardless of whether or not their applications are approved. And it's why the Clinton administration had to beg humbly that the Mexican gov- ernment halt and return home shiploads of smuggled Chinese. We will be returning to this theme later. Naturally, I take a deep personal interest in these immigration idiosyncrasies.

    After all, as it turned out I could have avoided my INS decade simply by ignoring the law and staying here after I graduated from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in That way, I would have been amnestied, along with what seems likely to be about 3 million other illegal immigrants, by the Immigration Reform and Control Act — known in the trade as "IRCA. Current immigration policy offers another parallel with New York.

    Just as when you leave Park Avenue and descend into the subway, when you enter the INS waiting rooms you find yourself in an underworld that is not just teeming but is also almost entirely colored. In 1 , for example, only 8 percent of the 1. And a good few of those were individuals who were re-emigrating, having originally come from Asia or the Caribbean. You have to be totally incurious not to wonder: where do all these people get off and come to the surface? That is: what impact will they all have on America?

    It is a characteristic of the American immigration debate that even the simplest statement of fact meets with deep and persistent denial from immigration enthusiasts. Thus Professor Julian L. Simon of the University of Maryland is perhaps the most celebrated advocate of the economic advantages of immigration. In his fa- mous pro-immigration polemic The Economic Consequences of Immigration, he states flatly: "Contemporary immigration is not high by U.

    Quite obvi- ously, a lot of people are deeply and emotionally attached to the comforting thought that this has all yawn happened before ho- hum. Occasionally, these are ingenious, and even relevant. Well, in this section, we will iron out these wrinkles once and for all. We will pursue the issue of how immigration stands by compari- son with U. The real question is: can today's immigration be absorbed?

    It hardly matters whether the floodwaters have reached the re- cord level set in — if, in the interim, a city has been built on the floodplain. In , that city is arguably America's affirmative- action welfare state. With that in mind, let's look at the facts about immigration see Chart 1, pages Chart 1 does put the immigration enthusiasts' claim into some- thing like perspective.

    In the language of jet-plane test pilots, the United States now is pushing right to the outside edge of its performance "envelope. During the whole Great Wave decade, from to , about 8. In the decade of to just passed, legal immigration into the United States amounted to some 7. Which means that, counting illegal immigrants — who were not a factor in the earlier period, when the borders were more or less open — the numbers probably matched, and may well have exceeded, the earlier record.

    Another glance reveals a further interesting phenomenon: the Great Wave, which is the period that immigration en- thusiasts always like to cite, was in itself quite exceptional. Note also the rapid pickup after the reform. Immigration spiked up by , as the legislation became fully effective. And it has never looked back. It's unfair to include in recent annual figures the very large numbers of illegal immi- grants amnestied each year by the IRCA legislation.

    That was an exceptional situation, they say. My attitude: the illegal immigrants came here, didn't they? After all, by including them in recent years, we are only compensating for not counting them in earlier years. But I want to be fair naturally. So let's adjust for IRCA. See Chart 2, below. For most of American history, immigration has risen and fallen very sharply. On a chart, it looks like a saw-tooth mountain range. But after , immigration has been building in a strikingly consistent way. It looks like a ramp Unlike previous waves, the post- immigration does not seem to be affected very much by economic conditions in the United States — such as the recession that helped to turn President George Bush out of his job.

    In fact, the rising trend line over the entire period since the Act came into effect has been generally smooth — suspiciously smooth. There are two obvious reasons. Firstly, the emphasis placed by the Act on "family reunification" rather than the importation of workers to fill specific labor needs.

    Secondly, the magnet of the modern American welfare state. Both have served to uncouple immigration from American eco- nomic conditions. Let alone from political, cultural or national needs. We'll be returning to this truth later. Several times. Now, let's not forget about those illegals.

    They are still coming. Indeed, after a short hesitation, they seem to be coming about as strong as ever. Of course, illegal immigration is a difficult thing to measure. One way is to chart the Border Patrol's count of apprehensions at the border. The results are shown in Chart 3, page The Border Patrol estimates it catches about a third of all illegal immigrants as they attempt to cross the border.

    Since 1.

    In This Review

    And, as a result, the permanent illegal-immigrant presence in the United States is beginning to build up again. Suppose the net increase has been , annually. That would once again mean that by subtracting IRCA legaliza- tions but adding new net illegal immigration, and were unarguably the record years in U.

    Could be. Who knows? Enormous numbers of illegal aliens are crossing the U. But in fact the gross number of illegals is important. It is a measure of the impact on the border region. It is a measure of the public health problem— infection can be spread by even brief contacts. Also, it's a measure of the precarious future. Because the situation is highly leveraged.

    Suppose even a small additional proportion of those 3 million illegal entrants each year decide to stay for good — say one in ten, or , Then the rate of increase of the illegal population permanently in the United States would have suddenly nearly doubled, at least, from, between ,, to ,, annually. Except, of course, the long-suffering residents of San Diego and other border counties.

    And no one in the national media pays atten- tion to them anyway. In effect, by allowing its borders to vanish under this vast whirl- ing mass of illegal immigrants, the United States is running on the edge of a demographic buzz saw. One day, it could suddenly look down to find California or Texas cut off. Whatever else the IRCA legislation was supposed to do, it has quite clearly failed to control illegal immigration.

    Politicians of all parties are now making noises about addressing the problem. This has happened before. Look at the surge of illegal entries in the early s. President Eisenhower brought it under control in with "Operation Wetback," a coordinated attack on illegal immigration both at the border and within the United States. So it can be done. You have to look at immigration relative to the American population.

    And looked at like that, it's not historically high at all. How easily a given wave of immigration can be handled does seem related to the size of the host population. Thus, for example, during the previous Great Wave in the first years of the twentieth century, the total U. The Bureau of the Census recorded just over 90 million Americans in , when just over 1 million immigrants arrived.

    But there were just over million Americans in , when about 1 million legal immigrants were reported. So in , immigration amounted to just over 1 percent of the American population. But in , immigration amounted to only 0. Don't get carried away by all this reasonableness, however. Ab- solute numbers matter — absolutely.

    In at least two ways. Immigrants do not spread all across the United States in a thin, tactful layer just six one-hundredths of a native-born American thick. Or even four one-hundredths thick. They invariably ac- cumulate in specific localities. Their alien languages and cultures become, at least for a while, self-sustaining. And the natives start asking themselves: "Are we still living in America? But Cuban immigration since has been only about , — a fraction of the 19 million legal immigrants who have come to the United States since It has been, however, enough to transform the area.

    Maybe — although it would be interesting to know what the Americans living in southern Florida would have said in Whether the transformation was for better or worse, however, is irrelevant. The point is this: quite small absolute numbers of Cuban immigrants were sufficient to create this enclave. And the post- immigrant influx has been quite large enough to create many such enclaves — turning America into a sort of Swiss cheese. There is an American tradition of worrying about these immi- grant enclaves that goes back at least to George Washington. In , he objected to the organized importation of English immi- grants to form buffer settlements on the frontier, arguing that their foreign allegiance might survive precisely because they were "de- tached and unmixed with citizens of different sentiments.

    It may seem reasonable to insist on expressing immigration relative to host population size. But it does cause something of a statistical mirage.