America has historically drawn great strength from diversity in its society. Compare the British and French look-alikes on the left to key faces from the Obama administration
• President Obama, a black man whose father was a Kenyan national;
• Former White House Chief Of Staff Rahm Emanuel, whose father was an Israeli Zionist who fought the British colonialists;
• Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, arguably a WASP, but whose roots include a French Canadian line.
America of previous centuries, literally an empty country in need of people to perform basic labor, generally welcomed immigrants without much planning beyond token health and safety checks.
Diverse waves of immigrants came from such places as Ireland, Italy, China and Poland. With a few notable hiccups, young America was able to absorb them and within a generation the magical melting pot turned each wave into quintessential Americans. The primitive immigration policy worked.
But America has matured. Its vast resources and treasure are nevertheless finite and must be used wisely. And, they must be allocated fairly, first and foremost among its citizens and their future generations.
This requires a fundamental overhaul of our existing immigration policy, which is based on 19th-century conditions and thinking. The Hispanic immigration wave has proven this. Despite the current momentary lull there is no end in sight. Consider the following jaw-dropping statistics.
- Unauthorized migrants make up 30% of the foreign born population. Of this, 78% are Hispanic;
- Over 10 million illegal adult Hispanics live in the U.S., of which about half have children;
- Between 2000 and 2010 the Hispanic population grew 43% compared to the overall 9.7% growth. This represented 55% of total U.S. population growth – 15.2 million out of a total 27.3 million.
America’s resources and treasure are overwhelmed. The hidden cost to every American citizen for providing social welfare and infrastructure to this generally uneducated and under-skilled wave is enormous. And, this tsunami is far beyond the capacity of our magical melting pot. Even English, the shared lifeblood of our social fabric, is being eroded as public school districts are setting up Spanish-as-primary-language programs, nationwide businesses set up Spanish/English customer care systems, etc.
Our 19th-century immigration policy must be overhauled to reflect the needs of 21st century America. Our 21st-century immigration policy must stand on the following two principals:
1. The sanctity of rule-of-law. History shows that great nations collapse when the rule-of-law is no longer respected. For immigration policy this means:
• Securing our borders. Now! The feasibility and costs for this task have been grossly exaggerated by opponents. Certainly, it will cost a fraction of the $2.5 trillion dollars we spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
• Passing definitive legislation regarding existing illegal immigrants based on a compromise between the current Republican and Democratic proposals, but leaning in the direction of the tough-love wing.
• Simplifying the laws and enforcement procedures for legal immigration. Currently the laws are too vague and expensive to comply with. Processing and enforcement is largely in the hands of front line immigration officers who to a large degree are left to use their own discretion, and whose decisions are nearly impossible to appeal. Too often this leads to inconsistent treatment of equivalent cases. The path from VISA application through Permanent Residency to citizenship is an expensive multi-year process that is traumatic and often humiliating.
• Eliminating birthright citizenship for illegal aliens and other visitors, narrowing the interpretation of the 14th Amendment to children who have at least one parent that is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (green card holder). This has bipartisan support, but will likely also need an assist from the Supreme Court. Both Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev) 1993 bill and Rep. Nathan Deal’s (R-Ga) 2009 bill address this head-on. The latter bill gathered 100 sponsors. Such a narrowing would bring U.S. policy in line with the rest of the world.
2. Diversity planning. Left unchecked, the magnitude of the Hispanic immigration wave risks creating a permanent parallel society with its own culture and social values. An overwhelmed broken melting pot will have dire consequences to our society.
To keep the melting pot humming, a 21st-century U.S. immigration policy must set up quotas to ensure diversity. These quotas must have a global geographic dimension and a socio-economic dimension. Via the latter, we can control the immigration ratio of migrant and day laborers vs. skilled middle class.
America does not need less immigration. What it needs is diverse immigration that complies with the rule-of-law.