Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's NOT the same

I thought the editor of The San Diego Union Tribune may have turned a corner with his scathing criticism of Judge Charles Breyer for blocking enforcement of document fraud.

But I see he is back to his same liberal view of the world. On October 24th he published an editorial a la “We are a nation of immigrants”. The point of the editorial was that this third world invasion of immigrants and illegal aliens is good for our country.

The matter came up as John McCain is trying to spin gold out of his support of immigration reform. His strategy is to point out that some Americans think we have too many third world immigrants here – legal and illegal. And he is against that “racist” notion, because those bad nativists deep-sixed the reform effort last summer. His idea of reform does not include changing the criterion for immigrants; merely keeping out the illegal ones (after he legalizes those who are already here).

And the S D Trib editor chimed in with, “The United States didn't become the most powerful and most successful country in the world by accident. It's a direct result of an immigrant tradition that has, for more than 200 years, welcomed the best, bravest, most ambitious and most optimistic individuals in the world -- as long as they came legally. We have to preserve that tradition at all costs, and we can't let legitimate concerns over illegal immigration undermine all that is right with legal immigration.”

Well, things are different this time around, and a newspaper editor ought to know that. Read what Steve Malanga of the Manhattan Institute has to say about now vs. then:
“We’ll never get to an immigration system that serves our national interest until we stop debating the issue in terms set down 50 years ago.
“Open-borders advocates are right to say that immigration made America great: we are indeed, as the cliché goes, a nation of immigrants. But it’s important to understand why previous generations of immigrants succeeded in America, how they helped the country grow, and how today’s immigration differs. The popular image of the 24 million who came during the first great migration, from the 1880s to the 1920s, is that they were Europe’s “tired” and “poor” masses, desperately escaping political or religious persecution and stagnant economies, making their way here with a few threadbare possessions. But what’s forgotten is that many were also skilled workers. A 1998 National Academy of Sciences study noted that the immigrant workers of that era generally met or exceeded the skill levels of the native-born population, providing America’s workforce with a powerful boost just when the country was metamorphosing from an agrarian into an industrial economy.
“Even though nativists agitated to bar these Southern and Eastern European immigrants because they were not Anglo-Saxon, it was not until after World War I that Congress—stunned by the growing radicalism of European workers in the wake of the Russian Revolution and by postwar turmoil in Europe—finally enacted immigration quotas based on national origin, with the purpose of shifting the balance of immigration back to Northern European countries. Those quotas helped cut immigration in half, though it was the Depression that truly ended the great migration, turning America into a net exporter of emigrants during the 1930s, as 60 percent of those who came for a better life left when the economy soured, according to the National Academy of Sciences study.”
Malanga reminds us that the quality of today's immigrant from the third world presents more challenges than blessings. He quotes the work of economists Borjas and Katz with these little pearls of data:
“63 percent of Mexican immigrants are high school dropouts who on average earn 53 percent less than native workers when they enter the United States”
“Mexican immigrants now represent 30 percent of America’s foreign-born population, whereas no two ethnic groups during the first great migration accounted for 25 percent”
“High school graduation rates among the American-born children of Hispanic immigrants are much lower than the average”
“Growing numbers of native-born Hispanics don’t have English-language proficiency—nearly 3 million”
“Low-skilled immigrant workers have crowded into service jobs that do little to make America more competitive internationally or more productive”
“They also depress the wages of low-skilled native-born workers”
“In California each native-born family paid nearly $1,200 more in taxes to support government services that went to immigrants”

It has been noted that a hundred years ago our safety net of social services was much different than today. An immigrant running into trouble back then relied on the church or fellow immigrants from home to bail him out. And as Malanga points out above, when the market crash threw immigrants into despair (with the rest of the country) 60% of them simply went back to the old country.

Today, with all our entitlement programs, America has become “the land of the free” lunch.

So, Mr. Editor, this current immigration problem is not business as usual. We would do well to revise our thinking on they type of immigrant we should allow in, something the politicians have failed to do. There are points system plans out there for review. There are ways to encourage true diversity instead of this Hispanic one note samba.

The last thing we need is to legalize ten million people from south of the border, then continue with more of the same.

To read the entire Malanga article, see The Right Immigration Policy, City Journal, Autumn 2006.

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