Advocates for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (English translation: amnesty) like to point out that immigrants in the past have flocked to America and made important contributions to our nation. That’s true, but the America of 1913 was different from 2013 in ways that greatly affect the probability that immigrants will become contributing citizens.
A century ago, Theodore Roosevelt, an early Progressive, spoke for most Americans by insisting that immigrants cannot be “American, but something else also.” They must have an undivided loyalty to our flag, our language and “to the American people.” They were expected to become proud, assimilated Americans, no matter how difficult that might be.
Today we are drenched in multiculturalism and “diversity.” This is not the diversity that Americans have traditionally celebrated, the natural product of a free pluralistic society. No, this is a coercive diversity, mandated by cultural elites, that has replaced assimilation into our American way of life.
Schools and universities teach an adversarial multiculturalism. History is the story of conflict between oppressor (white European) and oppressed groups (ethnic, gender and sexual orientation minorities). The only thing exceptional about America was its rottenness. Government programs like bilingual education, diversity training and foreign-language voting implicitly encourage ethnic group consciousness among minorities.
The new diversity is virtually an economic sector of its own. It is enforced by an army of regulators at all levels of government. Corporations and universities typically have entire offices devoted to diversity. Almost comically, the Dodd-Frank legislation, supposedly intended to prevent another financial meltdown, is proposing new “standards” for banks, including commitment to diversity, racial profile of workforce, outreach to minority groups and even the diversity of suppliers.
So how is all this forced diversity working out for us? About like you would expect. Assimilation today, notes Ross Douthat of the New York Times is “stalling out.”
Instead of the steady economic gains made by ethnic groups in the past, third-generation Hispanic immigrants have lower household incomes than their parents. Worse, according to a Bradley Foundation study, immigrants appear to be avoiding patriotic attachment to America. By 37 to 67 percent, immigrants were less likely than native-born Americans to believe the U.S. Constitution is a higher legal authority than international law. Immigrants by 50 to 81 percent were less likely to believe that schools should focus on citizenship rather than ethnic pride. Immigrants exposed to modern American culture have higher rates of welfare dependency, out of wedlock births and school dropouts than do Americans generally.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that passed the Senate earlier this year would undoubtedly make these problems worse. It would provide illegal immigrants with a probationary visa immediately. About 33 million new green cards would be issued in the next decade which means that millions of low skilled immigrants would be exposed to our resentment-inducing diversity machine. The bill even provides funding for advocacy groups, which, if history is any guide, will be snapped up by left-wing outfits like MALDEF, La Raza and other immigrants rights groups that already receive substantial federal funding.
Meanwhile, the federal Congressional Budget Office states that the measure if passed would result in falling wages and employment for working-class Americans while only reducing illegal immigration by 1/3 to 1/2 from present levels. That assumes of course the bill is implemented as written, which is unlikely. President Obama has repeatedly refused to enforce immigration (and other) laws with which he disagrees, so there is no reason to believe he would suddenly change his stripes.
Their advocates often depict immigrants as simply wanting to provide for their families. But we can’t save the world by making all poor people into American citizens. It might make us feel better about ourselves to help those physically near to us while ignoring the unseen millions around the world who would like to become Americans. But comprehensive immigration reform would bring more disparate-impact litigation, more demands for multilingual services, more multicultural education and more business for our robust “diversity” industry.
Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s close adviser, predicts massive immigration reform will eventually be his crowning achievement. And so it might be, by crippling forever our tradition of limited government.
• East Valley resident Tom Patterson is a retired physician and former state senator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.