As we head into Independence Day weekend, my column today reflects on the other “A” word missing from the immigration debate: Assimilation.
Assimilation and the Founding Fathers
by Michelle Malkin
In his immigration speech on Thursday, President Obama heralded America as a “nation of immigrants” defined not by blood or birth, but by “fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear.” If only it were so. Left-wing academics and activists spurned assimilation as a common goal long ago. Their fidelity lies with bilingualism (a euphemism for native language maintenance over English-first instruction), identity politics, ethnic militancy and a borderless continent.
Obama blames “politics” for the intractable immigration debate. Whose politics? The amnesty mob has taken to ambushing congressional offices this week to scream at lawmakers to choose “reform” (giving a blanket path to citizenship to millions of illegal aliens) or “racism” (their description of any and every legislative measure to stiffen sanctions for and deter the acts of border-jumping, visa-overstaying and deportation-evading).
Is there no middle ground for all sides to agree that clearing naturalization application backlogs should take priority over expanding illegal alien benefits, or that tracking and deporting violent illegal alien criminals should take precedence over handing out driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, or that streamlining the employee citizenship verification process for businesses (E-verify) and fixing outdated visa tracking databases should come before indiscriminately expanding temporary visa and guest worker programs?
Must every response to even the most modest of immigration enforcement measures be “RAAAAACIST”?
Further, as I’ve noted many times over the years when debating both Democrats and Republicans who fall back on empty phrases to justify putting the amnesty cart before the enforcement horse, we are not a “nation of immigrants.” This is both a factual error and a warm-and-fuzzy non sequitur. Eighty-five percent of the residents currently in the United States were born here. Yes, we are almost all descendants of immigrants. But we are not a “nation of immigrants.” (And the politically correct president certainly wouldn’t argue that Native American Indians, Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians and descendants of black slaves “immigrated” here in any common sense of the word, would he?)
Even if we were a “nation of immigrants,” it does not explain why we should be against sensible immigration control. The Founding Fathers were emphatically insistent on protecting the country against indiscriminate mass immigration. They insisted on assimilation as a pre-condition, not an afterthought. Historian John Fonte assembled their wisdom, and it bears repeating this Independence Day weekend:
George Washington, in a letter to John Adams, stated that immigrants should be absorbed into American life so that “by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures, laws: in a word soon become one people.”
In a 1790 speech to Congress on the naturalization of immigrants, James Madison stated that America should welcome the immigrant who could assimilate, but exclude the immigrant who could not readily “incorporate himself into our society.”
Alexander Hamilton wrote in 1802: “The safety of a republic depends essentially on the energy of a common national sentiment; on a uniformity of principles and habits; on the exemption of the citizens from foreign bias and prejudice; and on that love of country which will almost invariably be found to be closely connected with birth, education and family.”
Hamilton further warned that “The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass; by promoting in different classes different predilections in favor of particular foreign nations, and antipathies against others, it has served very much to divide the community and to distract our councils. It has been often likely to compromise the interests of our own country in favor of another. The permanent effect of such a policy will be, that in times of great public danger there will be always a numerous body of men, of whom there may be just grounds of distrust; the suspicion alone will weaken the strength of the nation, but their force may be actually employed in assisting an invader.”
The survival of the American republic, Hamilton maintained, depends upon “the preservation of a national spirit and a national character.” “To admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens the moment they put foot in our country would be nothing less than to admit the Grecian horse into the citadel of our liberty and sovereignty.”
As pro-amnesty extremists moan that “we didn’t cross the borders, the borders crossed us” and illegal alien marchers haul foreign flags above Old Glory, President Obama pretends that the “common national sentiment” our Founding Fathers embraced still binds us all together. Many of us still have faith in a strong, sovereign America — the unhyphenated, the law-abiding, the gratitude-filled sons and daughters and grandchildren of legal immigrants for whom such distinctions still matter. But it’s no thanks to the assimilation saboteurs who put “one world” over “one nation under God.”