Probably the greatest irony of the debate over immigration is that there is no debate. With more than 80 percent of Americans believing that immigration should be essentially halted, most people have already made up their minds. As for those in the other 20 percent who favor immigration and more of it, they've made up their minds too. Since the latter happen to control both political parties and most of the media, there is no debate. But if there were a debate, one publication that both sides should read would be a short monograph by immigration expert Lawrence Auster titled Huddled Clichés Exposing the Fraudulent Arguments That Have Opened America's Borders to the World. I'll bet you can guess which side of the non-debate Mr. Auster is on. Mr. Auster's booklet - 58 pages long - is published by the American Immigration Control Foundation, which for some years has published some of the most thoughtful studies of the impact of immigration on American life. Mr. Auster's most recent monograph - he published a similar study of immigration some years ago called The Path to National Suicide - is one of the most useful of its publications. What makes it particularly useful is that Mr. Auster simply walks through most of what we hear in favor of immigration and shows very succinctly and simply that it's all flapdoodle. There may be a valid argument for immigration, but if there is, Mr. Auster hasn't met it. The arguments he surveys and demolishes one by one are not simply straw men that he invented. Everyone who's ever gotten into a discussion of immigration has heard them, and every such argument is dissected and pinned to the pages of Mr. Auster's pamphlet. Moreover, he actually quotes the arguments from those who spin them - not only liberals and leftists but also conservatives who have fallen for the clichés of the left. One such cliché is that "if we didn't have immigrants doing all kinds of jobs in America today, there would be nobody to do them." This is a favorite of the agribusiness boys, who claim that unless they hire illegal immigrants, their crops won't get picked. In fact, Mr. Auster picks their crops for them The claim, he says, is "empirically false," but also it's based on "a false assumption, which is that the American economy could only have developed in one way, with lots of immigrants coming here and taking lots of jobs." As he points out, the jobs the immigrants perform exist because of the immigrants. If it were true that no one except immigrants would do the jobs, the jobs would not exist because those who offer them would invest in other enterprises. Mr. Auster gives as an example the exclusion of Chinese from California after 1882. Had there been no such exclusion, Chinese immigrants would have come to California and taken various kinds of jobs and started various kinds of businesses. But state law excluded them from coming and so they didn't. Nevertheless, California's economy somehow managed to develop in other ways without the Chinese. Samuel Francis, Ph.D., is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 1997, Tribune Media Services, reprinted by permission. The "no immigrants, no jobs" line is common among libertarians, but conservatives have their own species of clichés. One that is especially common is that immigrants are socially conservative and have strong family values. Mr. Auster points out that this based on a "deeply cynical premise we Americans are so degenerate that we are no longer a viable society." "The reason there is no real debate about immigration is that there are too many vested interests, too much political power, and too much money bound up with keeping the tide of immigrants coming." Moreover, whether the "cynical premise" is true or not, Mr. Auster cites statistics showing that Hispanic immigrants "are significantly more likely than white Americans (and East Asian immigrants)to drop out of school, go on welfare, and end up in jail. The illegitimacy rate among Mexican-Americans is 28.9 percent, more than twice as high as that of white Americans. This is not exactly Leave It To Beaver with a Mexican accent. Of course, there is no bottom to the bucket of clichés about immigration, and Mr. Auster in his 58 pages can't scrape out every one of them. "We are a nation of immigrants," "America is based on an idea, not ethnicity," "immigration is inevitable and can't be stopped" - all of them are dealt with summarily in the pamphlet, but for every dragon he slays, ten more pop out of the mental software that throbs between the ears of the immigration lobby. The reason there is no real debate about immigration is that there are too many vested interests, too much political power, and too much money bound up with keeping the tide of immigrants coming. Mr. Auster and his clear thinking can't stop that, but at least his busting of the immigration thought-balloons will help expose the special interests that keep the debate stifled.
Fifty-eight Good Reasons To Oppose Immigration
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 8, Number 1 (Fall 1997)
Issue theme: "Carrying capacity and caring capacity: are they at odds?"
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