As a follow up to our discussion over what should be the conservative / classical liberal strategy with regard to illegal immigration (in particular, how best to influence the national debate and so give whatever political party we back the rhetorical cover to address the issue), allow me to offer additional material to fuel what I hope will be an ongoing discussion. Again, from Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny:
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 9 percent of the population of Mexico was living in the United States in 2004. Fifty-seven percent of all illegal immigrants are Mexican. Another 24 percent are from other Latin American countries. Fifty-five percent of all Mexicans in the United States are here illegally. By 2050, Hispanics will be between 29 percent and 32 percent of the nation’s population.
The Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald points to another problem with the mass Hispanic migration to the United States — the “fertility surge” among unwed Hispanic women, particularly teenage girls. “Hispanic women have the highest unmarried birthrate in the country — over three times that of whites and Asians, and nearly one and a half times that of black women.” Moreover, “the rate of childbirth for Mexican teenagers, who come from by far the largest and fastest-growing immigration population, greatly outstrips every other group.
The enormity of migration to the United States also discourages the use of English and encourages the establishment of ethnic enclaves. The 2007 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey found that more than 55 million individuals in the United States speak a language other than English at home. Of these people, more than 34 million speak Spanish at home. More than 16 million of the Spanish-speaking individuals speak English “less than very well.” Furthermore, in 2000, 43 percent of Hispanics lived in neighborhoods with Hispanic majorities, up from 39 percent in 1990.
Of course, the administrative state has prospered hugely from the immigration anarchy the Statist has unleashed. The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector writes that “historically, Hispanics in America have had a very high level of welfare use…[In recent years], Hispanics were almost three times more likely to receive welfare than non-Hispanic whites. Putting together the greater probability of receiving welfare with the greater cost of welfare per family means that, on average, Hispanic families received four times more welfare per family than white non-Hispanics … Welfare use can also be measured by immigration status. In general, immigrant households are abut 50 percent more likely to use welfare than native-born households. Immigrants with less education are more likely to use welfare.
In 2008, a Manhattan Institute study, “Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States,” found that the current level of assimilation of all recent immigrant groups is lower than at any time during the first great migration early in the twentieth century. While some ethnic groups assimilated better than others, and for different reasons, Mexicans were the least assimilated overall and were assimilating at the slowest rate. […]
[…] rather than Americanize aliens and use public and private institutions to inculcate them with the virtues of American culture, language, mores, history, traditions, and customs, the Statist is cultivating cultural relativism in which the cultures from which the aliens fled are given equal accord with the American culture. But all cultures are not equal, as evidenced, in part, by the alien fleeing his own country for the American culture and the American citizen staying put. It is normal and healthy for ethnic groups to celebrate their diverse heritages […]. But neither the heritage nor home language of the individual has ever competed with the American culture for dominance. The history of immigration in the United States up to now has been of assimilation.
To interject here, let me first say that “culture,” the way Levin seems to be using it, is tied to a kind of civic history, and is accorded a permanence — or, at least, a precedence — that, ontologically, may not exist in the way he seems to believe. That is to say, if culture is but a set of beliefs and practices, then once the beliefs and practices change, the culture has changed. So it follows that the American culture, given that it now favors the statist’s immigration agenda, is one of multiculturalism and balkinization — or, if you prefer, the ethnic “quilt” preferred by diversiphiles over and above the “melting pot” model that used to represent American “culture”, but that no longer does so.
What Levin wants is to change the culture once again — to model US culture on a previous incarnation of that culture, one that he (rightly) notes is more in keeping with the originalist intent of those who founded the country. The distinction may seem a minor one, but it is worth pointing out: “culture” is fluid; and it is therefore best addressed by correctives in law designed to influence the direction of “culture.” Here, what Levin is going for is an appeal to a past culture as a model for a future culture he hopes to see embraced. Which is precisely the kind of example I offered in response to Nishi’s arguments about “cultural evolution” moving only in one direction: it is true, but not in the sense she seems to think. Because here, were Levin to get his wish, we’d have a new culture in the United States with respect to our approach to immigration and assimilation; but at the same time, that new culture would be a reprise of the attitudes and laws the formed a prior culture. Meaning we will have moved back by moving forward — or moved forward by moving back.
Back to Levin:
In his 1796 Farewell Address to the nation, George Washington explained it this way:
Citizens, either by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has the right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.
For more than two centuries, individuals with diverse backgrounds have come together to form a national “melting pot” and harmonious society sustained by the allegiance to the country and its founding principles. But today’s open-ended mass migration, coupled with the destructive influences of biculturalism, multiculturalism, bilingualism, multilingualism, dual citizenship, and affirmative action, have combined to form the building blocks of a different kind of society — where aliens are taught to hold tightly to their former cultures and languages, balkinization grows, antagonism and conflict are aroused, and victimhood is claimed at perceived slights. If a nation does not show and teach respect for its own identity, principles, and institutions, that corrosive attitude is conveyed to the rest of the world, including newly arriving aliens. And if this is unchecked, the nation will ultimately cease to exist.
Dr. Samuel P. Huntington, who served as chairman of Harvard’s Government Department and its Academy for International and Areas Studies, observed that “the persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, two languages… The United States ignores this challenge at its peril.” He argued that “Mexican immigration differs from past immigration and most other contemporary immigration due to a combination of six factors: contiguity, scale, illegality, regional concentration [in the Southwest], persistence, and historical presence.” The consequences, he believe, are stark: “Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista [re-conquest] of the Southwest of the United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway.”
What Huntington notes as a concern, people like our Nishi celebrate: the change in demographics will bring about a permanent “progressive” client state in which balkinized minority groups, even as they grow to be a majority, will vote in their “economic self-interest” — which is to say, they will vote to “legally” grant themselves the wealth of others by supporting a political ideology that thrives on power in exchange for privileges to those who elect them. And so long as those who elect them can maintain a majority, their power will be safely entrenched. Hence the desire to cultivate new votes by bringing in unskilled labor and creating a population explosion among groups that are more amenable to identity politicking than to assimilation and competition, to the very founding principles of this country.
Of course, this gambit is not fullproof. As I noted elsewhere recently, in addition to the individual outliers who refuse to cede power to the officially-sanctioned identity group narrative, once these minority groups capture the majority, voting in their own “economic self-interests” may not include providing set-asides for the new minority groups. Which is why, looking ahead, you’ll see many left-leaning academics hard at work re-inscribing “minority” as a racial or ethnic identity, not one that appeals to actual numbers. It becomes about perceived power — and given that no other ethnicity beside non-Hispanic white can ever been seen as the privileged power class, the demographic majority will always be “minorities,” and non-Hispanic whites, regardless of their electoral impotence, will always be cast as “the powerful,” and so the “majority.”
All the more reason why every effort must be made to defeat leftwing attempts to control language in a way that “meaning” is only what the consensus says it is. Because it is not difficult to look ahead and see that what the “majority of reasonable people” believe something to mean will be based entirely on their own self-interests in maintaining their dual majority “minority” status.
American immigration policy also has the perverse effect of upholding the dysfunctional status quo in Mexico. Johns Hopkins University professor Steve H. Hanke argues that Mexico’s labor policies mirror those of communist Yugoslavia under Marshal Tito. “Rather than modernize the economy, Mexico’s politicos have embraced a Tito-inspired strategy: When incapable of fostering productive jobs, export the labor force. As a result, over 27 percent of Mexico’s labor force [was] working in the US [in 2006] and these workers are sending home $20 billion in remittances. That equals one-third of the total wage earnings in the formal sector of the Mexican economy and 10% of Mexico’s exports.
Happyfeet has made the argument that foregrounding illegal immigration is a danger for “Team R,” because such a foregrounding will be used by the press and Democrats to highlight the nativist fringe and all the “shrieky” conservatives who are likely to put off moderate voters — and thus insure further electoral success for progressives (and therefore strengthen their move through liberal fascism into soft-socialism). And in one sense he is absolutely correct: this is precisely how the left will attempt to frame debate on immigration reform, which some progressives are hoping to push to the forefront of the agenda (despite the current economic crisis). As a corrective, happy has suggested that illegal immigration only be mentioned in the context of fiscal responsibility and unsustainability, with the actual illegal immigrants left out of the conversation entirely — which makes (a certain perverse and, in a way, decidedly illiberal) sense, were the right given fair consideration by the mainstream press.
But they won’t be — and taking that fact into consideration almost certainly has to alter the calculus: how, then, to pitch the country’s economic woes in the face of a progressive push toward immigration reform without actually addressing illegal immigration? And more importantly, is such a tactic, if conservatives / classical liberals can pull it off, even prudent?
Because if Levin is correct, and the statistics he cites are representative of future trends, it may be that in the future, those who are serious about actual immigration reform will simply not have the political power to affect change, precisely because they have allowed the influx of unassimilated aliens to take over the electoral majority.