Brief Reviews

By Wayne Lutton
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 4, Number 2 (Winter 1993-1994)
Issue theme: "An international perspective on migration"



by Gwen Kinkead

HarperCollins Publishers, 215 pp., $12.00

As a consequence of the 1965 Immigration Act, Chinese are streaming into the U.S. as never before. Aside from those legally admitted, a hundred thousand or more enter illegally, their passage arranged by professional smugglers at a cost of $30,000-$50,000 per person. Since Chinese wages average around $500 a year, the illegal aliens have to pay back their debt to the smugglers, which they do by working in sweatshops, through drug dealing, gambling, prostitution, or serving as 'muscle' for gangs.

Gwen Kinkead, a Harvard and Cambridge educated journalist whose work often appears in The New Yorker, has written a remarkable account of New York City's Chinatown--the largest Chinese colony in the Western Hemisphere. She quite frankly admits that 'crime is woven into the social fabric, into the institutions that keep Chinatown cohesive and isolated....' Chinatown is controlled by criminal tongs, which front as benevolent and fraternal associations. 'The crimes that take place here are often so serious and so bizarre,' she writes,'that the area sometimes resembles Hong Kong at its wildest. In Chinatown, there is a social order so ruthless that its very existence seems to be against the law. . . but most of the people who live here accept it as normal.'

Garment factories are the economic backbone of Chinatown. Manned by a steady flow of illegals, the sweatshops' piecework rates are so low that Hong Kong factories have moved to the U.S. Child labor and cheating workers out of their meager pay is common.

The author devotes four chapters to 'The Chinese Connection,' wherein she describes the workings of the international heroin trade, now largely controlled by the Chinese Triads. Half the heroin entering the U.S. annually comes through NY's Chinatown. Their biggest customers are blacks, Dominicans, and Mexicans. She cites law enforcement officials who predict that the new smokeable variety of heroin, known as 'China White,' may displace 'Crack' cocaine as the drug of preference in the 'hoods.

The portrait of Chinese society we see here is not a flattering one. Yes, many Chinese are frugal and work long hours but, despite all of the capital some of them accumulate here, Chinatown has no privately endowed hospitals, libraries, museums or other philanthropies. And far from being stereo-typical academic whiz kids, too many youngsters join street gangs. Kinkead admits that she was asked not to describe Chinese cuisine in detail, as they didn't want her to alert conservationists to the fact that they have a 'culinary craving for wild animals' - including black bears. Chinese feared she might provoke a reaction from low faan [white barbarians] 'anxious to stop the slaughter.'

Chinatown is an eye-opening report. One is very much reminded of former Senator Eugene McCarthy's observation that the United States is being colonized by people who are simply planting their alien cultures within our midst. The questions remain why have we allowed this to happen? And will we ever have the fortitude to stop it?

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Laszlo F. Thomay

Scott-Townsend Publishers

146 pp., $15.00

L.F. Thomay, a Hungarian who migrated to Canada after World War II, has written a timely and useful book which explores how people think, how they behave, and why they behave the way they do when living in a multi-national or multi-racial environment. He takes his readers to various countries around the world, including South Africa, Nigeria, Burundi, Belgium, the former Czecho-slovakia, the former Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Canada, and the United States. He also considers how Asians have fared in the East African states of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, as well as Swedes living in Finland, Croatians in Western Hungary, and Slovenes in Austria.

The primary characteristics of groups that result in majority/minority clashes are visibility [inhabitants of the same area who look different], language, and culture-religion.

He finds that when a minority exceeds a certain limit - 1 percent to no more than 5 percent - in relation to the majority, strife is inevitable and persistent, as the experiences of the United States, the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and various African states testifies. Ethnic strife has been less pronounced where the minority is willing, eager, and capable of being absorbed by the majority.

For a country inhabited by multiple nationalities, the best solution is separation of the components into their own ethno-states. As the author observes, 'present-day borders which do not correspond to ethnic realities should not be considered sacred and final; they should be adjustable in accordance with the wishes of the people living within them.'

Massive immigration of different nationalities into other countries inevitably leads to tension and conflict. Immigration can only occur safely when the immigrants are closely related to the host population and enter in small numbers. Consequently, it makes no sense to insist that existing immigration patterns continue. Indeed, government policy should actively prevent the establishment of new ethnic enclaves.

Thomay reconsiders the ethical basis of migration. He reaffirms that

there exists no right to be able to move into and occupy someone else's country. People may be accepted to another country, even encouraged to immigrate, but it is always up to the receiving country to determine whom, how many and on what conditions they would admit [them].... The right to control immigration is an important one, since immigration can become a form of conquest... It is not right that future generations should be doomed to live in continuous turmoil and confrontation... Creating new minorities by encouraging large-scale immigration that would tear the fabric of a society apart is a crime against humanity, against future generations of humanity.

The Natural Law of Race Relations is a well-argued book which shows how ethnic tensions may be lessened and individual security ensured. Positive steps should be taken to see that 'diversity' and 'multiculturalism' are not perpetuated.

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by Roy Godson and William J. Olson

National Strategy Information Center

[1730 Rhode Island Avenue,NW, Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20036]

72 pp., $15.00

Roy Godson, a professor of government at Georgetown and director of the NSIC, and William Olson, a former Defense and State Department official who has specialized in international narcotics matters and low intensity conflict, are co-authors of a monograph which discusses the threat to U.S. security presented by international organized crime. Over the past decade, organized criminal groups have become much more powerful, economically and politically. Many are trans-national, in the sense that they operate globally and are not necessarily dependent upon one 'home base.' And the profits they gain from illegal activities, especially drug dealing, dwarf those commanded by national groups, such as the American Mafia.

The authors provide a thumbnail sketch of the key international criminal organizations, including the Colombian drug cartels, the Chinese Triads, Japanese Yakuza, Koreans, Jamaican Posses, and various nationals from the former Soviet Union. They point out that these criminal organizations follow immigration streams, which provide cover and concealment, as well as pools for new recruits. They are particularly difficult for law enforcement agencies to deal with, given that they are often ethnically based and operate in many jurisdictions.

This study provides a useful introduction to the topic. As the authors observe in their conclusion

Neither the United States, nor any other country is aware of the full magnitude of the threat. Nor has any government been able to neutralize major international criminal organizations...Criminal groups are becoming stronger and are likely to expand their coalitions with ethnic and religious groups in conflict. As a result, in the future, criminal terrorist networks are likely to have an even greater effect on the quality of life in the United States and abroad.

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By Linda Morra

U.S. General Accounting Office

Washington, D.C., 1993

91 pp., single copy, free

Linda Morra, director of Education and Employment Issues at the GAO's Human Resources Division, reviewed the changing demographics of the U.S. school age population. Her study, based on Census Bureau data, confirms that immigration is responsible for virtually all of the growth in the U.S. population of low-achieving children in high poverty areas.

During the decade 1980 to 1990, the school age population - children aged 5 to 17 - declined by 2.3 million. But during this period, the number of poor school age children increased by nearly 6 percent. The white school age population declined by more than 4 million children and composed less than 70 percent of the total school age population in 1990, down from about 75 percent in 1980. The black school age population decreased by around 250,000 (about 4 percent). Overall, the number of poor white children declined and the black school age poverty population showed little change in the decade.

The growth in the number of school age children and children in poverty took place among Hispanics and Asians - either immigrants or the children of recent immigrants. The decade of the 1980s witnessed a 57 percent increase in Hispanic and an 87 percent increase in Asian school age children. 'At risk' children from immigrant and limited English proficiency households increased by almost 26 percent and now account for more than 9 percent of the total school age population.

Single copies of this report [# GAO/HRD-93-105 BR] are available free by calling (202) 512-6000 or writing to the U.S. General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 6015, Gaithersburg, MD 20884-6015. ;

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