TCS Daily


Immigration and the Nation-State

By Nathan Smith - May 26, 2006 12:00 AM

James Pinkerton's recent TCS article frames the immigration question as a question of "Universalism vs. Nationalism." The Catholic Church, represented by Cardinal Mahoney of California; Islam, represented by CAIR; and the left-wing and right-wing globalisms of the ACLU and the Wall Street Journal, all of which, he notes, support immigration, he calls "universalists." By contrast, "regular people," he says, "like nationalism, particularism, localism."

I don't buy it. It's the border-restricters who want to apply force on behalf of abstractions like sovereignty. We immigration advocates are partisans of the facts on the ground: localists, particularists, and patriots.

To use myself as an example, I support immigration partly on abstract justice and the common good, but equally for localist reasons. If you're in DC, drive north on 16th Street from the White House, up the hill, take a slight right at the intersection of 16th & Columbia, and you'll find yourself on a charming (to me, anyway) Hispanic business strip. There's a pupuseria where I first learned how comforting the simple (and cheap—$1.50) Salvadoran pancake of cornmeal and meat, topped with sour-spicy cabbage, can be to a hungry stomach. (Have you tried a pupusa? You should.) A block down, there's a low-price supermarket which sells "Jarritos" (a Mexican soft drink) and plays Latin pop music, where I do most of my grocery shopping.

This is the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood: to journalists a hotbed of immigrant activism, to me, home. The girls who joke in Spanish behind the cash register while swiping my credit card, the men who hang out by the convenience store on a Saturday night and smile at my bad Spanish, and the people who sell tamales, or flowers, or coconuts on the street in summer, are part of what I love about it. I'm not sure how many of these people are illegals; I'm sure a lot of them are. Tom Tancredo is my enemy, because he wants to deport my neighbors.

At the same time, I support immigration because I'm an American patriot, loyal to my country's history and traditions. Pinkerton speaks of "memories of Gettysburg" as part of the "psychic brew" that contributes to Americans' "deepest sense of self-definition." Yes, and some of the dead at Gettysburg were immigrants. One monument commemorates the place where a priest blessed a company of Irishmen before they went to their deaths.

We do not honor, but betray the memory of our Gettysburg forefathers by restricting immigration, for the country they fought for was a country of open borders. Back then, you didn't need to get a visa stamped in your passport, you just got on the boat (provided someone could vouch for you at Ellis Island). In the decades immediately after those soldiers saved the Union, America would welcome over 10 million immigrants, inspiring the famous poem: "Give me your tired, your hungry, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

They taught me in school that America is a nation of immigrants. They taught my heart to race with pride at the sight of the Statue of Liberty. So now I'm just carrying the torch.

Those whom Pinkerton calls "universalists" have particular reasons for supporting immigration. For example, Cardinal Mahony and his priests may belong to a worldwide organization, but their specific responsibility is to care for the souls of the Catholic faithful in their own diocese. A law that makes their parishioners "felons" in the eyes of the state will create very specific dilemmas for them. They believe it is wrong to assist the state in forcing peaceful people out of their homes. And they have a liturgical calendar-ful of martyred saints to remind them, when the laws of men defy the laws of God, whose side they should be on. The Bible -- that most subversive of Books -- promises: "Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you... for My sake, for great is your reward in heaven." Salvation is a very "particular" motive.

It's Pinkerton who thinks he "Knows the Truth about the whole wide world," and that Truth is nationalism.

What's Normal?

"In the long run," Pinkerton continues, "'normal' wins... [and] the normal mode of behavior is to be loyal to people, family, flag, and place, as distinct from distantly vaporous abstractions."

Pinkerton assumes that flag-flying nation-states are a permanent, "normal" part of the human condition, when we know perfectly well that they are not, because for most of history they didn't exist. Nation-states are a recent invention, a product of the modern era. Indeed, the rise of nationalism can probably be attributed to a single technology: the printing press. The writer Robert Wright explains:

"The press reinforced the drive toward national rule in two ways. First, it unified the cultural base of large swaths of land, standardizing custom and mythology and, above all, language... The press tamp[ed] down on dialectical differences, creating large blocks of mutual intelligibility... Second, the press began to foster a kind of day-to-day consciousness. By the early 1500s, single-topic 'news pamphlets' were harmonizing English sentiment, reporting on battles, disasters, celebrations... Whole states would become, in Anderson's terminology, 'imagined communities.'...

"More than any other single thing, [the printing press] accounts for the basic, oft-noted irony of the modern age in western Europe: political power migrated both upward and downward. Previously, European governance and cultural identity had tended to be local, a vestige of feudalism—and when lines of allegiance or authority did go further in scope, as with the pope or the Holy Roman Emperor, they were often at the other end of the spectrum, spanning the continent. But with the modern age, tiny polities became less and less economical, and vast monoliths became less and less tenable. The nation-state, which a cultural and political integrity crystallized by the printing press, emerged at the expense of both." (Nonzero, 180-2)

Pinkerton lines up with today's paleoconservative nationalists, and dismisses globalists as heady dreamers. Yet a few generations ago, it was the nationalists who were the dreamers. In 1817, when the German-speaking lands were still divided among several venerable little kingdoms, German students gathered at the Wartburg Festival to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses by protesting against conservative policies and calling for a national state and a liberal Constitution. Arrayed against them was the Holy Alliance of Prussia, Russia, and the Habsburg empire of Austria, headed by Europe's leading statesman, Metternich. Metternich was an early-19th-century paleoconservative, defending the traditionalist "normalcy" of those times.

Metternich no doubt assumed that this newfangled nationalism was, in Pinkerton's phrase, "terrible politics." For the time being, he was right. Even thirty years later, in 1848, a spate of liberal-nationalist revolutions went down to defeat, largely because of a lack of popular support (though they did manage to end Metternich's career). Yet it was the Wartburg youth, not Metternich, who had diagnosed the direction of history correctly. In the 1860s, Bismarck pieced together a German national state (albeit only somewhat liberal). By 1914, Europe's strongest states -- England and Germany, and to a lesser extent France -- were nation-states, while the dynastic, multi-national empires of Austria, Russia and Turkey were Europe's "sick men." After 1918, they were gone.

Another Transformation?

So will the nation-states of today go the way of the crowned heads of Europe? Not this week. Yet the media revolution that is being wrought today by the Internet is as profound as that wrought by Gutenberg's printing press, and this raises the question of whether political sovereignty is due for another transformation.

Today, the processes Wright describes seem to be running in reverse. Tiny polities like Singapore and Dubai are flourishing. So are two vast empires masquerading as nation-states, India and China. Medium-sized nations like France, Germany, and Italy are having a hard time. The monolingualism fostered by the printing press is giving way to a new bilingualism, like that of the Middle Ages, with English playing the role of Latin. There will be an estimated 2 billion learners of English by about 2020. Political power is again migrating both downwards and upwards, but away from the nation-state this time, towards transnational bodies like the IMF or the EU, or even to America, which has quietly, sometimes reluctantly or unwittingly, taken on some of the roles of a world empire or world government (as Michael Mandelbaum has argued in his book Goliath).

The Internet, which is displacing print technology as the pre-eminent text technology, just as printing once replaced medieval manuscripts, is helping to drive all these trends forward. The internet fosters a "day-to-day consciousness" which, though nichefied, is thoroughly transnational. This tends to weaken the cohesion of national communities, while at the same time knitting together an international community of sorts among the internet-using, English-speaking, urban, educated, increasingly powerful global middle class that has emerged in the past two or three decades, a by-product of growing globalization and economic development. In the coming years or decades, this class is likely to become impatient with the borders and citizenships that cage it and divide it. Under the influence of the internet and its abolition of distance, national "imagined communities" are giving way to "imagined community" on a global scale (albeit in a more rarefied form, and accessible mainly to an elite).

Where is all this leading? I'm not sure. We'll have to wait and see.

Immigration, the Health of the State

While the Internet may pose a long-run challenge to the nation-state model, immigration doesn't. America's uniqueness is no more threatened by opening its doors to immigrants than the Catholic Church's uniqueness is threatened by opening its doors to converts. On the contrary. Just as Catholic converts tend to be more devout and self-conscious in their Catholicism than cradle Catholics, so generation after generation of immigrants displays the original American traits -- hard work and ambition, religious faith, love of, and pride in, freedom -- often more strongly than native-born Americans do.

America experienced mass immigration in the 19th century and emerged from it confident and strong. As the experiences of millions of immigrants escaping poverty and repression became a part of our national narrative, they heightened Americans' consciousness of, and pride in, our unique heritage of freedom and social equality. At the same time, immigrants swelled the populations of our cities, fuelled the expansion of industry, and helped drive the transformation of America from the 19th-century agrarian country to the 20th-century superpower.

Immigration today is having the same invigorating effect on the country. This point was well expressed recently by one J. Pinkerton:

"Without a doubt, immigration has been beneficial to the United States in recent decades. Perhaps the greatest benefit was that these new Americans, clamoring to get here, proved the resilience of the American dream. Forty years ago, liberal and leftist critics blasted this country as horribly racist; in 1968 the Kerner Commission, a group of limousine liberals assembled by President Lyndon 'Great Society' Johnson to guilt-trip white America, declared that the United States was 'moving toward two societies, one black, one white, separate and unequal.' The truth was just the opposite: America was integrating and opening up, even if African Americans still lagged behind. But the strongest proof that the U.S. was a colorblind land of opportunity came from immigrants, almost all of whom were nonwhite.

"In many big cities, Korean Americans proved that it was possible to operate delis and convenience stores in the toughest urban environments, and to thrive. And the most casual walk through any high-tech company shows that many - oftentimes most - employees are nonwhite. And many are far more than wage slaves; Vinod Khosla, born in India, helped found Sun Microsystems in the '80s. Today, he is one of Silicon Valley's leading venture capitalists.

"Hispanics and West Indians, too, have proved that it's possible to carve out a solid place in America's middle class through sheer hard work. The manifest reality - that nonwhites could prosper if they possessed the right traits of aptitude and character - demolished the moral superiority and political dominance of the left. And that alone is worth giving thanks for."

Exactly.

"Bush and the Open Borderers"

Anyway, the need to keep the nation "viable and unique" is not Pinkerton's main argument. Instead, he claims that immigration is fatally unpopular. Supporters of immigration "are being routed in the public square by the nationalist immigration-restricters," he insists. "Bush & the Open Borderers are being beaten... badly on the immigration issue."

Given the centrality of public opinion to Pinkerton's argument, it's odd that he doesn't cite any polls. But he has a good reason not to: they don't support his claims. A CNN poll immediately after the Bush speech showed that whereas only 42% of viewers viewed Bush's stance on immigration favorably before the speech, 67% did afterwards, with 69% supporting a guest worker program. A CBS poll found that 60% of Americans support a guest worker program. Majority support for a path to citizenship for illegals is a well established fact. A Time poll in March which showed 79% support is one of many.

Bush's job approval is low, but Bush's slide began long before immigration was in the headlines. Since his immigration speech, there are hints of a slight rebound. And while Bush may have alienated some conservatives, he's getting strange new respect from the center-left.

In the political arena, events are also moving in Bush's direction. The House is more hostile than the Senate to Bush's border plan, and may yet block reform. But House Republicans are deeply unpopular, more so than Bush, and there are likely to be fewer of them after November, perhaps in part thanks to their attempt to label illegal immigrants "felons." Meanwhile, John McCain, probably the leading candidate for president in 2008 and virtually the only politician in America who is admired on both right and left, is another pro-immigration conservative.

Median Voter Power

Government of the people, by the people, and for the people sounds like a lofty idea, but in practice it boils down to empowering the median voter. And the median voter is no saint. Since the median voter has mainly his labor to sell to the market economy, he doesn't like competition from immigrants. This, and not "the specific integrity of the nation," is the main reason that "electorates... seem to... prefer" partially closed borders. A really smart immigration reform would, instead of restricting immigration, tax it, and distribute the proceeds to the voters, so that immigration would be in the median voter's interest. Then the cause of open borders might have a chance.

While Americans won't support open borders at the ballot box, when they put on their hats as employers, customers, and landlords, they show a different attitude. Illegal immigrants couldn't be here without the acquiescence of tens of millions of Americans who hire them, do business with them, and rent them lodgings (admittedly, sometimes unknowingly). So which should we believe -- wallets or ballots? When are Americans really expressing what they want -- when they call their congressman, or when they pay the cleaning lady? To complicate matters still further, Americans' policy preferences are time-inconsistent: majorities want to keep laws on the books, yet majorities oppose the measures (mass deportation) that would likely be necessary to enforce them.

While the American electorate won't relinquish their power to restrict immigration -- by, say, passing an open borders amendment -- there are limits on the amount of coercion they're actually willing to engage in to exercise that power. And Americans' support for a path to citizenship for illegals suggests that they're willing to allow more immigration ex post than ex ante. They don't want to pre-commit, but they will acquiesce in a fait accompli. This policy hasn't worked out too badly in practice, but it is anomalous in the wake of 9/11 when we have a new, very legitimate reason to monitor comings and goings. So we need a new approach. Here's to the Senate for showing the courage and leadership to try one.

Nathan Smith is a TCS contributing writer.

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117 Comments

Nations are human nature
I understand fully the overall point made about the printing press. However, while the modern nation-state has its own characteristics its origins pre-date the printing press by hundreds of years. I argue that countless civilizations (greeks, romans, incas) were fully capable of nation building and did so. Within each empire were distinct, regional groupings with there own unique characteristics. And as history provides, the larger a civilizations gets the harder it is to maintain. Point being is that humanities tendency to group ourselves is inate and principally guided by one's immediate surroundings. While the earth is getting flatter, it can only get so flat even with the advent of the interent and whatever is to come.

Bush approved Senate amnesty bill is a Trojan Horse for a North American Union
Concerning the Senate’s approval of an immigration/amnesty bill, see
humaneventsonline.com; or see the more freewheeling populist americanfreepress.net. The basic objections to the Senate approved immigration/amnesty bill include:
1. Up to 66 million new, largely unskilled, under-educated, low IQ immigrants over the next 20 years will be admitted under the Senate bill just passed .
2. Since the border is not to be closed to all but those we allow before implementation of the Senate bill, nor will our immigration laws be enforced against employers, then as in the 1986 bill our borders will not be controlled and we will have illegal immigration that will add to legal immigration. The Senate bill and the president are in bad faith.
3. Employers of illegal immigration get a free ride, not having to bay back withholding and other taxes.
4. Illegal immigrants get a free ride, being given the choice of which 3 of the last 5 years they want to pay taxes on, and no taxes due otherwise.
5. Most illegal immigrants and guest workers will qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit wherein we pay them up to $4,400/year and averaging now about $1,700/year.
6. Guest workers could not be terminated except for just cause, giving them greater rights than American workers.
7. In areas where Mexicans congregate, school populations would turn to less than 2/3 middle class, causing the performance of all students to fall and the middle class to flee to private schools or to congregate themselves in all middle and upper middle class enclaves, at great added expense. De facto apartheid will increase rapidly under the onslaught of up to 66 million (some estimate far more) new, low IQ immigrants.
8. Property, sales, and income taxes will have to rise sharply to pay for education of the immigrants. How much? Housing is expensive and scarce. Immigrants average 2 families per apartment. A four unit apartment building costs as much as a decent family home, but pays the same property tax as a good single family house. Sales and income taxes will go up sharply as well as property taxes.
9. Fraud and extortion will become the order of the day, as in Mexico. Already in California our courts are subtly corrupted in favor of immigrants (criminal complaints lost, handwritten answers to eviction lawsuits found after default; judgments for party contributors). It will get worse-crime follows the money.
10. At some point, the immigrant states will be totally controlled by the immigrants and largely abandoned by the middle classes, just as New York City has been so abandoned.
11. The immigrants will enormously overburden our health care system seeking free treatment; if health insurance runs $10,000 a year, multiply that by 66 million and you get $660 billion a year; or if only half need free treatment, $330 billion per year.
12. Then there are the welfare costs, expected to exceed $500 billion in 10-20 years.
13. We are barely able to education our middle and upper classes now, and fail miserably with most. Already in 1997 some 46% of adults 16-64 were functionally illiterate-unable to make sense of what they read to fill out a job application, read a bus schedule, or balance a checkbook. But they vote! What will 66 million new immigrants with average IQs of 90 we refuse to educate adequately do to our country.
14. Law enforcement will be largely paralyzed to enforce the law against immigrants, even worse than it is now, where the Gates policy is in effect in too many big cities, giving immigrant criminals a free ride or sanctuary in those cities.
15. It is perfectly obvious that the reason the borders were not closed after the 1986 immigration bill and 9/11, and will not be closed under the current Senate bill, is that the aim of both parties is an integrated North American Union, with a common border around Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, and a common government; soon to be expanded to the rest of Central America and South America.

Help Wanted: No Legals Need Apply
The big concern for me is the vast market in illegalness, which _does_ hurt many Americans, in the following fashion:

If you're an employer, particularly a smaller employer, who would you hire? An American, who probably won't work under the table, will require social security taxes to be withheld, will require workman's comp insurance and unemployment insurance, is subject to OSHA regulations, and who may sue you for various misdeeds? Or would you hire an illegal, who will perforce be quite docile and obedient, would never sue for cause or even over withheld wages, cost at least 15.7% less (SS+Medicare tax, employee + employer's share) - and possibly much less in states with high workman's comp insurance - given the same base salary? Now put your business in one of the sectors where there's lots of illegal employment; you _have_ to hire illegals under the table if you want to compete in the market.

So, you've got a labor pool that exists outside the law, ripe for unscrupulous - or simply lazy or competitive - employers to exploit. Obviously, the economics-minded would argue that larger society benefits from having these cheaper markets, but there is a perversion of the labor markets - and of the rule of law generally - taking place. This perversion is unlikely to be addressed unless the existence of a vast army of illegally employable is dealt with.

And, oddly, the more illegals there are, the easier it is for the rest of the labor market to be over-regulated and priced into the underground market, simply because the pressure from business to streamline regulations and such will be less if the "illegal option" is easily available and is relatively low risk.

This is hardly a theoretical issue - my wife is a business broker and she sees small businesses every day that staff up with large numbers of illegals for exactly the reasons discussed above.

America was supposed to be different
What you say is true Before we came along, nations )as opposed to empires) were all ethnic enclaves, where each spoke its own language and each had a shared heritage. You could tell who was French. They spoke French as their native language, looked and felt French, and had French grandparents. A Swiss family would have to stay there for a few generations before being accepted as French.

America broke that mold. Here, anyone who wanted to be American was by that desire, an American. We became a melting pot of people "yearning to be free". And though there was some discussion about being swamped in Germans, first, then Irishmen, etc, immigration was unrestricted until the 1920's.

Here racism is not institutionalized. When someone goes to the trouble of moving here, we greet them as being one of us because they came here just like our own ancestors did. There is an instant kinship based on identity.

Europe is different. First they brought in the Spaniards and the Greeks to do their dirty work. Then they brought in Turks, and Moroccans and everyone else from countries that didn't have any work. But the important distinction is that they never accepted them as fellow human beings. You could be as nice a person as could be, but if you were Algerian or Ivorian, you just were not French-- and never could be.

It's this attitude that has caused a terrible problem, because all the countries of western Europe are now full of minority occupants that they don't accept. It's a recipe for disaster, and one we really, really should not follow.

The inferior races
You must feel terrible, being surrounded by people of inferior races. I had no idea, for instance, that immigrants were known to have low IQ's (an impression you seem to dwell on) and that they are not middle class. Plus, of course, they are criminals. Tell me, were your parents' families ever immigrants?

You might be surprised to learn that among your fellow real Americans, fully half of them have IQ's below 100. What's up with that?

Not to worry about a North American union though. No one here wants it, and Mexico and Canada wouldn't have us.

Some misconceptions
I can see you've never been an employer. You say

"If you're an employer, particularly a smaller employer, who would you hire? An American, who probably won't work under the table, will require social security taxes to be withheld, will require workman's comp insurance and unemployment insurance, is subject to OSHA regulations, and who may sue you for various misdeeds?"

I assure you that you will find many poor people whether American or otherwise who will accept casual labor if they don't have a real, full time job. That is what "under the table" means. It's a second best job, and desperate people take them.

If you have a real employee, though, they don't get to ask whether they can work without withholding, FICA, workmen's comp and the like. Those are requirements YOU have to fulfill. The onus is on the employer to deduct for these things, particularly withholding and FICA, which takes care of Social Security and Medicare-Medicaid. If you do not prepay these taxes to Uncle Sam, or if you decide they don't need workmen's comp or unemployment being paid in, it's YOU who goes to prison, not your employee.

So bosses who employ people who may or may not be legal citizens always insist that they provide a number. Many don't check it too carefully to make sure it is a valid number, but they do send money to Uncle Sam to be recorded under that number. Otherwise they risk federal penalty.

Illegals are like any recent immigrants in that they enter a culture in which workers have more rights than they did back home. This "docility" you notice stems from the fact that they expect to be fired if they speak out against conditions. So they in fact are favored by bad employers who run bad plants. This kind of thing is not their doing. Bad plants run by Americans should be shut down regardless of the origins of their labor force.

But your picture of illegals telling their prospective bosses if they hire them they won't have to obey OSHA rules is flat backwards. The call is not theirs to make.

Unfair to other nationalities
Millions year to partake of the American dream. Around the world people must apply for an immigrant visa and wait. And wait. And wait. For 10 years or more in many cases they wait in line for a chance to be American.

Mexicans are able to jump this queue SOLELY due to geographical accident. This is manifestly unfair to the millions of Phillipin(o/a)s, Chinese, Africans, Caribbeans, etc. etc. who are every bit as entitled to live here as are Mexicans.

Until some way is devised to ensure a more balanced selection of "illegals" the Mexicans swamping the country are at an unfair advantage and will effectively better immigrants (some of them) from other nations.

That's why
the U.S. needs a guest worker program. It gets rid of the problem of clandestine labor which can be exploited when the imported labor is legitimized.

You need to be reminded
of a few basic facts. The U.S. was created by immigrants, and the U.S. experience has been that immigration adds value to the U.S. economy irrespective of your claims about entitlement costs. What's worse, there is a tone of bigotry underlying your bullets 9, 10 and 11. So what's your real motive, to ensure a restricted labor supply or to keep out a bunch of people whose skin color you don't like?

However, your bullet 15 is completely demented fantasy. Any talk of a North American Union would be utterly rejected in Canada and Mexico.

Nathan Smith on Immigration
Nathan Smith: You are confusing the subject of immigration with the subject: illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants have broken at least two laws (one being falsified documents) and are boldly flaunting this in the face of people who came here legally. They also DEMAND citizenship with no disregard for our laws, traditions, et cetera. I like Mexican food. I like the Mexican culture. I don't people who would give amnesty to individuals who break the law and wave it in front of our face with words like "Southwest America belongs to Mexico."
You are falling into the lot of politicians who only see the illegal immigrants as potential voters - with no regard for the well being of America.

Right you are
I agree utterly with your comment. In particular there are many, many Chinese employing coyotes to get here in ships, cargo containers, etc. They are not just looking for work, they're trying to find a country with better freedoms. They should be given a chance too.

But let me play devil's advocate. We enjoy a "special relationship" with Latin America known as Manifest Destiny. For two hundred years we've taken the right upon ourselves to interfere with the way the nations of Latin America govern themselves, whenever it suits us, because they're "in our sphere of influence".

Colombia was destabilized, for instance, just so we could break off a piece, call it "Panama" and sign a treaty with it enabling us to build a canal without having any sticky problems with the locals. Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, the DR and Haiti have all been closely controlled by us for the past hundred years or so. So was Cuba before they gained their independence from US influence. Batista was our guy.

To me, with that kind of freedom comes responsibility. If we can ensure that so many of these countries have governments we can control, and those governments then oppress their own people or fail to develop properly, I think it is only fair and just that we take in refugees from them. Guatemala and El Salvador are perfect examples, and many of the illegal Latins one finds here are actually not Mexicans but Central Americans.

If we can swamp their countries with our designated rulers, they get to swamp us with their refugees. Seems fair to me.

Yes
keithlehman has it right - it is "Illegal" immigration that is the issue - not immigration. I wish our "leaders" would get past all the rhetoric and politics and come to their senses and develop a true 21st century immigration policy.

Immigrants
As a daughter of legal immigrants, I can tell you that my parents and many of their legal immigrant friends are pissed at the current illegal immigration debate. No one wants to deny access or immigration they just want everyone to play by the same rules. My parents and their friends had to register, be sponsored, could not use government benefits like welfare and food stamps, had to have jobs and wait. Any attempt to give someone a free pass - and that is what they consider giving anyone that came here illegally an opportunity for citizenship - to be an insult to them....and are they pissed about it...

A nation of (LEGAL) immigrants
It a continuing deception by the globalist liars that the illegal aliens in the U.S. today are "just like" the previous generations of immigrants. Nothing could be farther from the truth and they know it. Look at any poll and it's abundantly clear that the majority of Americans insist on enforcing the law and getting control of the border. Never before have we said as a nation. "There are too many law breakers, we should give them amnesty." After prohibition ended we did not release from prison those that were serving time for smuggling. The simple answer is to harshly penalize the employers. That approach dramatically improved tax compliance and it will be equally successful at getting the illegal aliens to self-deport.

What do you expect
from Human Events Online. Thats the homeland of bigotry and demented fantasy.

"Already in 1997 some 46% of adults 16-64 were functionally illiterate-unable to make sense of what they read to fill out a job application, read a bus schedule, or balance a checkbook."

Wow. I've recently been arguing the perspective that Americans in general are stupid, I had no idea how right I was! 46%? Wow.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
Illegal immigration hurts us all, including the illegal immigrants.
They can be and are treated as slaves and are afraid of getting help. How do they feel about an America that allows slave labor in LA or NYC?
Their econimic activity is in a gray maket hurting the economy and welfare laws require services be provided.
Illegal immigration is exposing many weaknesses of our current system.
There is too much welfare. If there were no income tax, only sales tax, all in America would pay taxes.
And I agree with the author that ethnic foods are wonderful. Salsa is more popular than ketsup.

I will stand by my proposal to allow anyone in the country with a valid passport, no disease and no criminal background. They can work for whomever will hire them. After five years, they must apply for citizenship or go back where they came from. Those currently in the country illegally need only get a passport from their embassy, meet the health and background checks and they are in, just like all the rest of the world. What all the lines disappear at US Embassies and start froming at passport offices and airports around the world.

I wonder how many countries would be afraid of losing their best and brightest to the USA? An open, controlled immigration would force other countries to change if they wanted to keep their citizens.

To hell with the voters - anything is legitimate to fool them
Nathan Smith wrote "While the American electorate won't relinquish their power to restrict immigration -- by, say, passing an open borders amendment -- there are limits on the amount of coercion they're actually willing to engage in to exercise that power... (so) they will acquiesce in a fait accompli."

This is a very succinct statement of the overriding totalitarian mindset of much of our elite class in this country. The public be damned - they will take the medicine that Nathan Smith and his ilk deem best for them.

I'm one of those Americans who used to believe that labelling illegal aliens as felons and deportation of the illegal aliens already in this country were not good idea. The street protests by illegal aliens and the helpfully honest writings of folks like Nathan Smith have convinced me that I was wrong.

why can't you say "illegal" ?
The entire article lumps legal immigrants with illegal. That is the way the advocates hope to fool the voters. The author states that the polls show the electorate supports open borders. I wonder. The fall election may show just how accurate that estimate is. I've spent 40 years caring for illegal immigrants. They are not grateful and expect everything as though it is their right. We are fools if we allow unrestricted immigration of this low intelligence, uneducated flood of Helots. It will damage the country in ways most do not understand, although they are learning. Legal immigration is another matter altogether.

Immigration
For those who argue that the USA is a nation of immigrants, I have only one simple answer.

"Annie Moore did not sneak in." Nor did millions of others.

Annie was the young Irish girl who was the first person processed at Ellis Island. There are still ways that people from other countries can get into this country and they are fully functional and reasonable. While I feel deep sympathy for the folks in Mexico and Central America who struggle with the oppression of corrupt governments and abject poverty, this still does not give them a "right" to march into my country waving their flags and demanding equal rights and privileges with those who have an investment in this nation thru paying taxes, serving in the military, working for the government, voting faithfully etc. My ancestors __did not__ sneak in either.

I live fifteen miles from the border and I can tell you true stories that would curl your hair about violence, crimes, literally tons of trash strewn on both government land and private property and how hospitals cannot take locals at times because they are so overburdened with non-paying patients from the south. Also most of the more mature of the Mexican American citizens that I know are fully as unhappy with the 'invasion' as any of the Anglos so do not yell 'racism' at me.

Yes, as the gentleman from Washington said, many of the Hispanic immigrants are good people and make a genuine contribution once they are settled here BUT there are also a lot of criminals--drug dealers, revolutionaries, dissidents etc. that Mexico etc. does not want so they *help* and encourage them to come north. This is not an easy issue to resolve fairly and I am well aware of that but unless you have walked in the mocassins of the people who live in the direct path of this 'invading force' there is one heck of a lot that you do not know!! Websurf with an open mind and google: Azatlan, Immigration, Border, Minutemen etc. Prepare to see and read some shocking things. Don't automatically poo-poo them because they are not what the established media is saying, either.

AzGaye

Funny how you can accuse the author of totalitarianism and then advocate ethnic cleansing in the sam
It's precisely because the elite class does NOT have a totalitarian mindset that mass deportation is not being seriously entertained by any of our leaders. The problem is that our leaders come to power through peaceful processes like elections. You need some thugs in power if you want your program to be realized, people who would ENJOY driving people out of their homes. Sub-Saharan Africa manages to get those kinds of leaders. Let's research how they do it...

Illegal vs Legal
It is amazing how the polling numbers are played with.
There have been several recent polls indicating that Americans and Legal Hispanics oppose illegal immigration
in vast numbers. Yet, those supposed high minded types can't seem to separate the difference between Legal vs illegal.
We currently have 10% of Mexico's population here and studies seem indicate that the Senate bill will bring something on the order 60 million more! I support increases in legal immigration but not illegal. We will end up like France. We will not be able to assimilate that many people in that short of time. As our current inability to assimilate 11 million who are currently here shows.

Invasion-AzGaye tells it like it is!
I live in Mexico 20 years, The Mexicans here don't want those people running over the border, either, they don't have the patience for them, which is why they don't demonstrate in their own country. Send them home and let Soon to be EX-president, let them all work on Fox's Farm-Ranch, Or to Former President Salina's home in Cuba. Immigration is a matter of respect from both sides, I don't see it from Latinos.

The employers are small to tiny...
The "bosses" here aren't employers in shiny buildings doing job interviews; I'd guess the vast majority of illegal employers are small to very small businesses. They often don't have any "real" employees: the management are members of the owning family and the workers are paid off the books. Many bigger entities, like agriculture, don't hire directly; they get their seasonal workers from contractors who do the actual hiring - and who "abstract away" the legal/illegal status of the fieldhands away from the farm owner. The "federal penalty" is legally vast, but in practice quite trivial as the only way to actually find these employers is to walk the streets and go into these businesses one by one and fight a court battle one by one. This sort of thing is done occasionally in larger businesses, but rarely to never in mom&pop shops where the feds may spend a few dozen grand deporting a handful of workers and wrecking a family's livelihood. But there are literally tens of thousands of these small shops in places like LA and the SF Bay Area.

This would be a good thing for someone to study; we really have no feeling for who are the employers of illegals. My own feeling is that it is the overhead of legal employment, not so much low pay, that encourages illegal employment.

Follow the money!
If it cost too much to change...do nothing. If you do nothing well enough, it could look like your doing something, most folks won't be able to tell the difference, and nothing will be done again. Which is what the article is doing, looks like he is saying something, all along, he talks in circles, Tell Me Something New! Rock abye Baby across the border, especially now with Mexican elections coming up, and a glimpse of Amnesty in the Public Media. America close your borders and get back to work.

Immigration and the Nation State
The writer apparently believes that anyone that is against illegal immigration is against all immigration. That is not the case at all. A controlled flow of immigrants from a variety of places, speaking a variety of languages, who are educated or have a special skill, who have been checked for prior crimes, etc., is fine. What we are concerned about is the uncontrolled flood of immigrants, speaking Spanish only, most of whom can only hold a low paying job because they have little education. The cost to the country (taxpayers) is enormous. Health clinics are flooded and the welfare system is in stress. Donations are not keeping up. The tide is so great that they will likely never be assimilated, and many don't want to be. With no control over whom we let in and therefore no verification of their motives, we should rightly be concerned. Are they running from justice somewhere? Do they want to become Americans or do they want to take back California for Mexico (a stated goal of some in the LA demonstrations). The numbers are too large to accommodate, and why should we? They are breaking our laws. They don't take our laws seriously because we don't enforce them. There attitude is, I'm here now and you won't make me leave. Whatever the immigration laws are, they need to be enforced. An open border is not the answer. Even in the past when there were no quotas, we screened all immigrants and sent many packing.

Nathan Smith Misses The Main Mark
Most Americans I know are not against immigration, only illegal immigration! Nathan Smith cites an example of Irish immigrants dying in battle for America. This is not the same as illegal immigrants proclaiming that they will retake a large portion of the USA for Mexico!

Most immigrants in the past have learned English. Many of them were pleased to have learned the language of their new country. Most Americans I know want immigrants to learn English.

I do support a registration for visiting workers who wish to return home after a specified period of time. I do support legal immigration, for those who will learn English, American history, and how the political process works.

I don't support illegal immigration. The same Bible that Mr. Smith cited on compassion also tells citizens to obey the laws of their country (given that the law is not against God's law.) Asking visitors to enter our country legally has not resulted in mass starvation or genocide, so there is no excuse for breaking those laws.

We would be better served if our politicians would put the pressure on those south of our southern border to provide less hostile environments for their own citizens, and provide them with job opportunities. They have abundant natural resources, why don't they harness them?

more than mexico
Even if what you say is legitimate with regards to Latin America, there is still the issue that Mexicans have are given the significant advantage to immigrate illegally by virture of proximity over other Latin American nations. Not all Latinos (or whatever the PC term is) are the same.

Bad Ol' America
We are so bad, that is why so many of them want to come here to this bad place run by such bad people! Bad! Bad!

Every nation was created by immigrants.
"The U.S. was created by immigrants.."

True of any nation. Do you think they just sprung up out of the ground?

True United States of America?
Would a true USA, comprised of land from Canada through South America be such a bad thing? Maybe that is the answer to all of our problems.

No more open border problems. (At least not by land!)

No more wholesale illegal immigration. (At least not by land!)

Maybe we could have laws similar to what we have now, and could drive out the corruption and poverty that plagues those to the south of us.

Hear, hear!
Amen! The problem is not immigration, but ILLEGAL immigration.

Makes sense to me!
Legal immigration over illegal immigration.

No Subject
"After five years, they must apply for citizenship or go back where they came from. "

I've heard this kind of proposal before. The thing I don't like is the quality of an ultimatum. If someone is considered acceptable to allow here to begin with, they should have the choice whether to become a citizen or not. No one should be required to do so. We don't want citizens whose only motivation to become one was to stay in the U.S.

Respect
"Immigration is a matter of respect from both sides.."

This is a good single word summation of the whole issue.

Maybe the thugs come to power because the people become convinced. . .
Maybe the thugs come to power because the people become convinced that the elites view the Constitution as a scrap of paper to be ignored and the express will of the people as an inconvenient matter to be circumvented by guile.

I did not advocate ethnic cleansing, which is the forced removal of peoples from long occupied land. I did not even advocate strict enforcement of existing laws that pertain to illegal aliens who are already in this country until I realized that folks like you are not honest fellow citizens interested in convincing and winning by political means but rather leninists interested in carrying out a quiet sub rosa revolution regardless of legal niceties.

ILLEGAL, ILLEGAL, ILLEGAL
I know this has already been said by several posters here, but I just thought I'd reiterate:

HOW STUPID DO YOU THINK WE ARE?!?!?!

You know G-d damn well that almost nobody (who counts) opposes LEGAL immigration in the US. Your entire article is a complete waste of time and a total non-sequitur because nowhere are you talking about the actual issue, which is ILLEGAL immigration.

So the question is, what part of ILLEGAL do you not understand? Illegal = against the law = criminal activity. Illegal aliens are criminals by definition. Why are we even talking about this stupid issue? Why is no one in Washington interested in prosecuting illegal criminal activity?

I could rant all day, but I've already posted on this issue many times. I just hate it when I see these inane articles that have nothing to do with anything other than obscuring the fact that we have 12-20 million illegal criminals committing a crime by their very presence in this country and nobody seems to want to do anything about it.

Google to learn about Atzlan, reconquista, and MEChA!
You are so right. Along with googling Aztlan, also google reconquista (the American version, not the European one!) and MEChA.

Don't be lulled by all the "immigration" boohooing that is going on. It is more than that, and informed media people know this--they just don't want ordinary citizens to be aware of the truth.

This is not about assimilation, as in the past. This is about "reconquest"! Mexico's Presidente Fox and other leaders approve of this plan.

Ethnic cleansing and hair-splitting
Now in a way I agree with you that you didn't advocate ethnic cleansing. "The forced removal of peoples from long occupied land." LONG occupied? Is that part of the definition? Maybe. You could make a case for it. Certainly you could also point out that there are Hispanic citizens who are ethnically akin to illegal immigrants who would not be deported under the scheme, except by inevitable mistake.

But what your policy would entail, in practice, would certainly LOOK a lot like ethnic cleansing. We'd pretty much have to adopt the coercive apparatus of totalitarian states lock, stock and barrel to have a chance of enforcing the laws on the books.

The Constitution was written by people who were very worried about government becoming too powerful. The "will of the people" was not their top priority; liberty was; and they deliberately subjected the power of the people to a system of complex restraints. They deliberately framed a system of government which was not capable of the sort of vast social engineering that your mass deportation would constitute.

Sometimes the people get frustrated with those restraints. Sometimes they want, in the words of Peggy Noonan, a government that exercises "brutal force." That's when republican government is in danger.

Behold the tactics of a Leninist
Nathans - after you clearly and falsely accused me of advocating ethnic cleansing, you now admit your lie by writing ". . . I agree with you that you didn't advocate ethnic cleansing."

Meanwhile you have avoided addressing the direct quotation in which you advocated using guile, trickery and extralegal means to defy the existing law and the expressed will of the voters.

It's an old tactic - if you can't win by logic win by obfuscation. If lose at the polls ignore the electorate. If anyone dares question your methods smear them.

up is down - in is out - controlling who comes into your home is racist
This article is of a piece with an entire line of anti-American arguments made against control of the borders and enforcement of the laws of our country.

Many, if not most, of the advocates of unlimited immigration and of the ex post facto repeal (by amnesty) of all laws governing immigration are interested in no less than the dissolution of this country. They couch their proposals in arguments meant to appeal to libertarians, egalitarians, small "d" democrats, and ordinary working people; but they are not committed to winning their goals by legal or electoral means. They are a fifth column whose purpose is overthrow of our constitutional system.

This article clearly and directly advocates subversion of both the law and the express will of the people. It justifies that by appealing to a supposed higher good. But when I challenged this, I was immediately (and falsely)pronounced an ethnic cleanser, a charge that was later disavowed when the liar realized he had gone so far as to have removed his mask of reasonableness.

By their deeds shall ye know them.

Our country, the country that belongs to all of us who are citizens and legal residents, is in danger of being taken away from us, and the tactics of our enemies are plain. The one worlders openly intend to spark enough immigration to overturn the existing system and they do not intend to be limited by legality or morality in carrying out their aims.

Not true
Listen, I'm not sure whether what you advocate should be described as "ethnic cleansing" or not. The argument that it is not seems like hair-splitting to me, and I don't think we should do anything that comes as close to ethnic cleansing as that, even if you can make the case that there's a difference.

That is not a "lie." I'm raising an issue and then trying to examine it from different sides. Critical reasoning. I was hoping you would rise to that level. It never hurts to try.

I'll admit that while I'll defer to the voters in a lot of things, if they attempt the vast and undoubtedly in practice murderous social engineering that you're proposing, I don't care about the will of "the people." I believe that popular sovereignty has limits. If 90% of the American people passed a constitutional amendment ordering the killing of all Jews, you bet I would "subvert democracy" to fight back.

Fortunately, that will never happen, because the American people are better than that. For the same reason, the constituency for mass deportation, among the political class and among the electorate, is not big enough to implement policies like those that you're proposing. And I'm praying, praying, praying that it will stay that way.

The employers
It varies by region. In LA a lot of illegals work in sweat shops. These places are raided regularly. It's just a cost of doing business. In fact some years back it was found that some sweat shop owners were calling in raids for Friday morning-- so they wouldn't have to pay anyone for the week. Monday morning they would get all new women and start over.

Here in NC illegals work in the fields. Not a thing has changed since 1953, when Edward R Murrow aired his Harvest of Shame. Ag interests make certain the boat is never rocked, thus keeping their costs low.

Out in the tomato fields near Wilmington we've has a wave of teratology-- kids born without arms and legs. Remember years ago, when tomatos in the store were still white and dusty? Now they wash them first, but the guys who work in the fields come home white from head to foot, and their pregnant wives launder their clothes.

Don't look for any grant money going toward studying this business. They'd just as soon keep it swept under the table.

Pot meet kettle
Roy if anyone here has demonstrated racist attitudes and announced his ability to exploit the poor! Wow, just more immigrants so you can exploit the poor by paying them lower wages.


Typical Leftist troll.

I am in favor of legal immigration
I have visited Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Heathrow Airport.

At all but our northern and southern borders, all the border guards on both sides had clearly visible automatic weapons.

People cross borders at locations other than authorized border crossings are routinely treated as smugglers, invaders or spies. The proper response is to shoot first and ask questions later.

Anyone who violates a clearly marked border is asking for trouble.

Hang our politicians!
I agree with you but the government has told the entire population to Let them eat ckae" in regard to immigration policies. What is amazing is that Bush is so tone deaf that he doesn't realize that he has lost his base on this and that sleeping with Kennedy to get this passed will only result in Bush being.....

As a result of our politicians and people like this author I'd like to see not a triple barrier but the Great Wall of China errected. As for the illegals, let them stay as permanent legal residents residents but unable to ever become citizens and barred from public services.

I for one am going to vote out everty incumbent I can this election.

Border crossings
Latinos is the correct term.

Northern Mexicans do in fact enjoy proximity to the border. But in fact there are a number of land routes coming up from South America. Many Chinese in fact arrive as far away as Peru, and come north from there. They cross the border from Guatemala into Chiapas and then go up to remote sections of the US border. But most illegal entrants are in fact Mexican.

Another Goebbels graduate
Wow talk about double speak and lies. Hispanic citizens would be deported under inevitable mistake? Yeah anyone whose been born and raised in this country or has become a citizen will be mistaken for an illegal in your racist world.

Only in a Leninist world does one draw distinctions between the will of the people and liberty. Only someone with such a poor education and arrogance make the statement that they "framed a government that was not capable of vast social engineering."

Wonder what the Creeks or Cherokees woulf say about that or the Japanese? I wonder what the Eastern Europeans who were deported in 1918 say about Palmer and the Constitution. Republican government is in danger when people attempt to subvert it by ignoring the Constitution; ignoring the laws; and ignoring the will of the people.

I doubt Roy would attempt to spin lies of this magnitude.

Calling black white and vice versa
I love it when someone calls for the elites to ignore the will of the people to institute a program that they will not be impacted by and will cost the citizenry dearly because some Leninist believes increasing the underclass of this country will cause increased social tensions and economic dislocations.

I love it when we have the Marxists here lie till they are blue in the face. Tell you what let us adopt Mexico's immigration policies in toto.

I do hate it when commissars preach democracy, it sounds so gay.

Citizen ONLY to be able STAY?
" We don't want citizens whose only motivation to become one was to stay in the U.S."

That is the point. If they don't want to be a citizen then they can leave.
Why should resident aliens be allowed to live here on a permanent basis?

Immigration
There are so many things wrong, both factually and logically, with Smith's article that it would be impractical to list and address them all, so let me just express my opinion that Nathan Smith just doesn't know what he is talking about and he is MY enemy.

I am surprised that TCS would publish such stuff as Smith writes because it is so far below the standard of quality that we have come to expect from them.

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