Immigrants ?

How immigrants do and do not help the world

By Bruce Walker

There is a grand mythology about how the flood of immigrants from oppressed lands to America has benefited the world.  The poem written by Emma Lazarus for our Statute of Liberty creates the impression that providing a new homeland for those who in their native lands lacked liberty, economic opportunity, and security from pogroms and related violence created America.

This is not true.  America would have been just as successful without the immigrants from Europe and East Asia as with these immigrants.  That is not to say that the Germans, Irish, Jews, Poles, Italians, and others who came to America beginning with German immigration in the early 19th century did not become good and productive Americans.  They did, but America did not need them, and they did not need America.

There is a fundamental difference between these immigrants and the immigrants from the Islamic and Hispanic worlds to America during the last decades.  The Germans, Irish, Jews, Poles, Italians, and others who came to America did so to embrace the values of our country (and also the values of other homelands to migrants like Canada and Australia).

Moreover, these immigrants recognized the need to turn their old homelands into nations like America.  So, for example, Italians became Americans, but many of these immigrants also moved back to Italy to help transform the peninsula into a unified nation with liberty and democracy.

When the Irish and the Jewish peoples of Europe acquired their own self-governing nation – in Ireland and Israel – many families who had come impoverished to America returned to the culture and the faith of a homeland in the Old World with affluence and success.  Over time, the one-sided flow of immigration to America became bilateral because the political, economic, and moral values of America had permeated the original homeland of immigrant groups.

When the Soviet Empire collapsed, the last unilateral flow of immigrants to Western Europe and America slowed to a trickle.  Today, the democracies of what was once the Warsaw Pact have kept their populations at home.  In East Asia, the flourishing economics and stable democracies of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore have largely ended immigration to America except for special reasons.

This solution to immigration issues completely eliminates the sort of manufactured “problems” and “crises” that purport to plague America and Western Europe today.  There is, for one thing, no problem of immigrants not speaking the language of the land to which they travel.  If the Hispanic nations of South America absorbed the values and ideals of our nation, then those who immigrate illegally to America today could live in Mexico or another Spanish-speaking land without ever having the handicap of not knowing the language of the land where they live.

Also the creation of a culture that supports the rule of law reduces social violence and political unpredictability.  This allows people who would otherwise leave their homeland to stay safely and prosper without the dislocation of mass immigrations.  This also produces a practical investment in peace and civil order.  The pressure to leave a poor or war-torn land decreases over time until it has little practical effect on people’s decision-making.

How does this compare with the pernicious immigration policies the left seeks to foist on us today?  Instead of turning Mexico into America, the plan is to turn America into Mexico.  Instead of making the Islamic world into relatively safe and affluent lands like France and Italy, the plan is to transform these European nations into the destructive and dangerous lands of the radical Islamic world.

It is the same old plan of all leftism: take what works and break it; take what fails and replicate it.  And always, always, always substitute social theory for the lessons of history.

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