I am intrigued by one aspect of both the Donald Trump campaign and the Brexit vote, namely the nearly fanatical vilification of the suggestion that a nation might actually seek to exercise some kind of control over immigration in order to maintain its cultural and religious identity. Both Trump supporters and Brexit voters have been dismissed by the establishment media as troglodytes, poorly educated ageing “white people” whose complete irrelevancy will be demonstrated when they all die off, taking their bigotry along with them. And may it come soon, according to the people who pontificate over such issues inside the Beltway and in the media.
Trump has even been attacked as “racist” for his wanting to deport illegal immigrants, something that is eminently sensible from a rule-of-law, national security and cultural identity point of view though practically problematic as there might be as many as 20 million of them in the U.S. If one does not believe that the schools and health care facilities in working class towns all over the United States have been negatively impacted by the wave of new and illegal arrivals one is either not paying attention or is willfully looking the other way.
I perhaps not surprisingly see the issue somewhat differently than the open borders or globalist crowd. We still live in a world of nation states, many of which have been around for a long time. Most have a dominant identity or unifying narrative which might well be ethnic, religious or even, as in the United States, cultural or institutional, which has sometimes been described as “civic nationalism.” In a country like the U.S. or Britain, where a form of democracy occasionally prevails, it would seem to me that the voters have a perfect right to demand that their government limit immigration both in numbers and by source in order to maintain the dominant culture. Edmund Burke once observed that “Society is indeed a contract … it becomes a participant not only between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.” That means that a nation is both a compact among the living and a legacy issue for those who are to come. Being able to control one’s borders to include who can and cannot enter is an integral part of what national sovereignty and identity are all about.
Indeed, immigration into most countries is restricted in various ways and many countries do not permit anyone to become a citizen or legal resident under any circumstances. No one in the U.S. media is complaining about Saudi Arabia or Israel’s strict immigration policies, but the nations that are under fire for not being accessible enough to new waves of essentially third world immigration are those countries that already have fairly open doors, to include Western Europe and the United States. In deciding whom to let in by plebiscite, race or religion might certainly be a determinant in part in the mind of some of the voters who favor such restriction but it is my impression that “racism” is being exploited by those so-called “Social Justice Warriors” (SJWs) who wish to advance their globalist agenda by depicting any process for admitting new citizens selectively to maintain the dominant culture as morally unacceptable.
The advocates for more free immigration are really talking about inviting the third world, admitting large numbers of people who do not speak the local language, have the same religion or have the same social values as the established population. There is more than a touch of smugness and moral superiority in those who promote turning advanced and normally tolerant Western nations where the rule of law generally prevails into something more like Guatemala or Nigeria. That stems from the misguided notion that diversity and multiculturalism are wonderful things because all cultures are equally valid. They are not necessarily so. In Sudan the local culture supports clitoridectomy and many Pakistanis believe in honor killing.
The U.S. once had rational immigration policies that favored nationalities that already had large constituencies in place in the country. The intention was to maintain some measure of demographic stability, and it was indeed heavily weighted towards Europe. But that all changed in 1965 when Senator Ted Kennedy and colleagues decided that U.S. immigration had to be opened to the world, to include lotteries to assign visas at random. The new immigrants were inevitably followed by their extended families. Additional legislation followed in 1986 and 1990. By 1990 only 16% of new legal immigrants came from Europe. This third world bias in legal immigration coupled with the millions of illegals has already brought about a major demographic shift in the United States.
But immigration by lottery and “without documents” has proven to be a risky proposition for national identity and stability as there is considerable evidence that immigrants who are far outside the prevailing norms of the country they move to will fail to assimilate. This process has been exacerbated by the entry of tens of thousands of refugees from America’s wars, what Steve Sailer calls “invade the world-invite the world,” new citizens who surely bring with them deep seated grievances about what the U.S. refers to as foreign policy. Pat Buchanan once addressed the immigration issue in his characteristic salty fashion by saying in 1991“If we had to take a million immigrants in, say Zulus, next year, or Englishmen, and put them up in Virginia, what group would be easier to assimilate and would cause less problems for the people of Virginia?” If one replaces Zulus with Laplanders the comment becomes similarly valid without any racial overtones, but that would be a disappointment for the perpetually aggrieved SJW crowd which can only focus on the fact that Zulus are black and most Englishmen are white.
The entire issue of immigration, legal or otherwise is awash with liberal doublespeak. President Barack Obama has characteristically been on both sides of the illegal-“undocumented” issue, apparently testing the political winds and asking “What’s in it for me?” before taking any action. He first said he could not legally change the enforcement of immigration law by Executive Order and then proceeded to do just that. He has directed his Attorney General and Director of Homeland Security to slow down on deportations, with the numbers of those repatriated per Border Control Agent declining sharply and more reliance being placed on catch-and-release which is essentially get out of jail free for those who have chosen to enter illegally.
Obama repeatedly asserts in his characteristic pious tone that the White House wants to help illegals “get right with the law” but fails to support the obvious way to do so, i.e. by returning home and applying for a visa. And his Executive Order (which has just been overturned by the Supreme Court) has granted illegals access to all government benefits. These “undocumented immigrants” are not making us “stronger” as a nation in spite of repeated assertions by the White House. They bring few skills with them and the educational achievement levels for both Hispanic legals and illegals are very low, creating something like a permanent underclass.
But the average American, who foots the bill for the federal government induced dysfunction, apparent cannot have any say in the matter of who enters the country and how because it might be “racist” or “culturally insensitive” to do so. That point of view is absurd. I haven’t heard anyone suggesting that Washington should deport residents who arrived here legally based on race or religion and no one is denying any citizen his or her fundamental liberties. But no resident of a foreign country has a right to come and live in the United States just because he or she might want to. No country anywhere is required to take in immigrants and America is not a smorgasbord where one buys a chit and sits down to dine. Indeed, there have been calls for a moratorium on all immigration into the United States as the current situation appears to many to be both out of control and driven by partisan political considerations. Becoming an American citizen is a privilege that should be based on the ability to contribute something and the willingness to abide by both the law and local customs. The United States, insofar as it is the property of anyone, rightly belongs to the citizens who already live here and they have a right to set the rules. If someone doesn’t like that they are free to go somewhere else.