Tools for Discussions

Written by Simon  
Monday, 28 July 2008
"The New Case Against Immigration" is not a "new case". Its arguments are based on the same fears that stopped immigration in the 1920's. In the words of Michelle Wucker author of "Lockout", "they were wrong then and they are wrong now."

Krikorian's basic argument is that the immigrants are the same but that the United States has changed and therefore mass immigration has to stop. He then tries to make a case that changes in communications, travel, the need for national security, our perception of sovereignty, our need for cheap labor and the welfare state have made it impossible for the USA to continue to accept immigrants. If you oppose immigration, for whatever reason, these are arguments that give you a patina of intellectual cover. However if you look deeply at any of then they are the same fears of immigrants repackaged.

I will give just two example of how Krikorian book distorts arguments. In his chapter on population he argues that "mass immigration is social engineering" by the federal government. "Social engineering" is an attempt to influence popular behavior. Restricting where people are allowed to live certainly affect their behavior. So it is just as easy to state that: "restricting immigration is social engineering." Which is correct? It depends where you are coming from.

In his chapter on government spending he cites studies that claim that unskilled immigrants will always be a tax burden on the nation. Yes in the same way that 30 million children will always be a tax burden. But children will grow up to contribute and so will immigrants. This flaw in the anti-immigrant argument is very well documented in "Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America" by Dowell Myers. The only way to study a group is to follow a cohort as it changes demographically. The studies cited by Krikorian look at immigrants as a static group.

Krikorian state the US is now a "mature nation." He wants to keep it just the way it is. In the documentary film "Beyond Borders: The Debate Over Human Migration" Willem Charles talks about how fear of immigrant shows an unrealistic fear of the future. The world will keep changing and people will migrate. That so many of them want to migrate here is a tribute to the American creed and the nation we have built. It should be source of immense pride for all Americans.