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Immigration Myths To Be Avoided When Coming Up With Reforms
The Bulletin ^ | April 16, 2009 | Herb Denenberg

Posted on 04/16/2009 11:49:19 AM PDT by jazusamo

We need immigration reform, but it need not be comprehensive. The more comprehensive reform, the more difficult it becomes to accomplish politically. So we ought to proceed on a piece-by-piece basis, taking up the highest priority matters first.

Security Reforms

We have to close our borders or we will be beckoning to terrorists and what are called transnational criminals (for example, drug, human and arms smugglers). That means stepping up border security by completing all fences and other barriers and by providing greater border police and enforcement resources.

Then we have to finally establish a central computer system so employers can check on whether prospective employees are illegal. To complement this move, the government has to hit employers who ignore the law with the appropriate sanctions.

Then we have to revisit the 1990 Immigration Act, and enact provisions that have been considered earlier but rejected. The Act should exclude aliens committed to the eradication of American culture. Andrew C. McCarthy in an article in the National Review points out this was proposed in 1990 but was rejected at the behest of leftist Democrats.

In addition, we have to try to get international cooperation to provide intelligence and other assistance in identifying and stopping terrorists and other criminals. And we have to properly police immigration within the U.S. as well as at the borders. There’s a detailed discussion of many of these issues in an article from the Heritage Foundation by James Carafano, Ph.D., titled “Safeguarding America’s Sovereignty: A ‘System of Systems’ Approach to Border Security” (Nov. 28, 2005). It’s on the Foundation’s web site,

Immigration Laws Should Target Those With The Skills We Need

In recent years, at the very time when skilled employees are in greatest demand and when our economy will move forward at the fastest pace only with adequate supplies of skilled workers, our immigration laws are delivering potential employees with the lowest skill levels and lowest educational levels. In his book, Applied Economics, Thomas Sowell points this is in sharp contrast to other countries including our neighbor to the North, Canada: “Canadian immigration laws gave preference to those who had more education, had fluency in English or French, and who were in occupations deemed more important to Canada. The net result was that immigrants to Canada had higher skills and higher wages than immigrants to the United States.”

This immigration preference makes sense when our economy is under stress due to a downturn in the business cycle, and due to the unprecedented heights of the debt, deficits, and spending by the Obama administration. We are hardly in a position to use our immigrations system as a worldwide welfare system, imposing still more costs on an economy already sputtering.

In going forward with immigration reform, we must not go down the wrong legislative path because we place faith in one or more of the myths surrounding immigration. Here are some of those myths.

Myth One

Immigration always produces good results for the economy and the country.

Because of our history, because we are a nation of immigrants, and because immigration seems to have turned out so well, many believe that more immigration will produce good results. For most of the last three centuries, America has accepted more immigrants than any other country. Even as late as 2007, there were 38 million people living in the U.S. that were not born here. That’s about 20 percent of the migrants of the world.

All you have to do is look at Europe to find out what results immigration can produce. The influx of Muslims runs the real danger of turning Europe into what has been called Eurabia — a new Europe with majority control in the hands of Muslims and whole nations becoming subject to Sharia. Some of the most insightful observers of the European scene believe that Europe is already lost and will continue to slide into Muslim domination and Sharia as its legal system.

Europe not only has a problem for itself because of Muslim immigration but that also poses a serious problem to the United States. Listen to this warning from American Intelligence Officials, as reported by Robert S. Leiken in an article, “The Menace in Europe’s Midst” that appeared in Current History (April 2009):

“American intelligence officials have told President Barack Obama that British jihadists now constitute the chief terrorist threat to the United States …” Britain is a visa waiver country meaning these terrorists are only an e-ticket away from the United States.

This February the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, in his first Annual Threat Assessment, emphasized that “Al Qaeda has used Europe as a launching point for external operations against the homeland on several occasions since 9/11, and we believe that the group continues to view Europe as a viable launching point.” 

There are some legitimate concern even about Muslims and Muslim immigrants in the U.S. An often-cited poll, found that one out of four respondents under the age of 30 accepted suicide bombings.

There is no reason to believe that the immigration of other groups might also end in bad rather than good results. Mr. Sowell points out that there are many differences in the nature of immigration now and in past years that may produce different results.

We may learn from the history of immigration, but it is not a magic key to predict how immigration will turn out:

“History can be a help or a hindrance to understanding today’s immigration issues. A study of the past can show general patterns, many of which can be recognized in today’s events as well, such as a growth of disaffection and alienation among the offspring of some immigrants from poor countries, even when the first generation was glad to have improved their lot in life by moving to a more prosperous and freer nation.

History can also show what valuable contributions some immigrants have made in some countries during some eras. But what history cannot do is show that to be inevitable for all immigrants in all eras, or even for most immigrants in most eras.”

Myth Two

History can’t tell us whether a group will be unassimilable.

Those who say certain groups will not assimilate into American society are often criticized by pointing to past predictions that some groups of immigrants would not assimilate that turned out to be wrong. America did prove to be the great melting pot, but there is no assurance that will be the case with present immigrants and present circumstances.

There are now entirely different pressures operating to encourage or discourage assimilation, and past outcomes may be totally unreliable for predicting present outcomes.

Mr. Sowell points out today presents entirely different conditions that were presented in the past:

“Among those different conditions today are ethnic organizations promoting the perpetuation of foreign cultures and of past or present resentments, in contrast to ethnic organizations of the past that promoted assimilation.

“Moreover, immigrants to the United States in the past were cut off from reinforcements of these foreign cultures by newcomers from their homeland when the drastic restrictions on immigration in the 1920s stopped so many newcomers from arriving in America. Those who today invoke historical parallels are seeking to keep the flow of cultural reinforcements coming.  Things happened in a particular way in the past for particular reasons. Where these factors no longer exist, there is no reason to expect the outcomes to be the same out of sheer historical parallels.”

Myth Three

Immigrants take jobs that U.S. citizens won’t take.

This is refuted by statistics showing that in no major sectors of the economy do immigrants constitute even half of all employees. Even if 473 different job calcinations are considered  immigrants make up a majority of employees except in four classifications — stucco masons, tailors, produce sorters and beauty salon workers. 

Even in those four occupations, native-born Americans make up 40 percent of all employees. The claim that American citizens won’t take certain jobs is most often made for agricultural workers. But half of all agricultural workers were born in the United States.

Myth Four

Without immigrants for farm labor, we’ll have $10 a head lettuce.

Mr. Williams calculated that even if wages for farm labor doubled, that would mean only a $22 a year increase in costs of fruits and vegetables for a family each year, and that is less than a 10 percent increase. Mr. Sowell concludes: “Ten dollar lettuce makes a catchy political slogan but it has nothing to do with economic reality.”

Myth Five

Just as the free movement of goods and services promotes economic benefits so does the free movement of people.

This has superficial appeal, but does not hold up to analysis. Mr. Sowell writes, “But the movement of people from country to country has different consequences from the movement of goods and services. When Americans buy a Toyota from Japan, the Toyota does not demand that the United States accommodate the Japanese language or that Americans adjust themselves to Japanese customs in their own country, much less introduce diseases into the American population.

Moreover, Toyotas do not give birth to little Toyotas that can grow up with the problematic attitudes of some second generation immigrants.”

Myth Six

The benefits of immigrants to a society can be judged en masse.

The problem is far more complicated than that as each group of immigrants deliver different benefits and costs, and those can often be difficult or impossible to quantify. The best example is the contrast between immigrants from Asia and Mexico. In the early twenty-first century, 45 percent of the immigrants from Asia had a college degree compared to just 4 percent among immigrants from Mexico.

Mr. Sowell concludes there is little point in trying to set legal policies for immigrants in general. He says there are no immigrants in general. Even those that might be lumped together produce entirely different histories. That is true in the past of highland and lowland Scots, for example. Mr. Sowell also notes that the immigration environment keeps changing in important ways over time.

Mr. Sowell stresses that immigration policy has to take into account the differences between different groups of immigrants. He writes, “Not only do people differ from goods and services, people differ from other people, and any policy — on immigration or anything else — which insists on ignoring such difference among people risks discovering that ideas which sounded good in stage one can turn out to be disastrous in late states, when those ignored differences produce ‘unintended consequences.’ In the case of immigration, these consequences can be irreversible.”

Myth Seven

As immigration reform involves fundamental questions of security, culture, borders, language and national survival, you would think the matter would be decided on a non-partisan basis.

That sounds good, but it is about the opposite of the truth. The immigration issue is likely to be fought on a highly partisan basis. My take is that the Democrats see their approach to virtually open immigration, open borders and amnesty as a way to cement the Hispanic vote and consequently cement their political power for generations.

Unfortunately the Democratic Party has lost its soul and has taken political positions contrary to the national interest but in line with its political advantage. They were so opposed to Bush and the war and Iraq that they gave the impression they would be happy to lose the war in Iraq, if it meant it would hurt Bush and the Republicans. By like token, they are willing to do immigration “reform” that is contrary to our national security interest, contrary to the protection of our borders, language, and culture, but that will help them at the ballot box. We can only hope there will be enough responsible Democrats to prevent the Obama/Pelosi/Reid axis from having their way toward irresponsible immigration reform.

Herb Denenberg is a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner, and professor at the Wharton School. He is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and  consumer advocate. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences. His column appears daily in The Bulletin. You can reach him at

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: denenberg; immigration; sowell; thomassowell

1 posted on 04/16/2009 11:49:19 AM PDT by jazusamo
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To: abigail2; Alia; Amalie; American Quilter; arthurus; awelliott; Bahbah; bamahead; Battle Axe; ...
Thomas Sowell Ping!

Herb Denenberg uses quotes from Thomas Sowell's Applied Economics in this column on immigration.

2 posted on 04/16/2009 11:52:48 AM PDT by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo
The problem with this article is that it relies heavily on facts and logic, the same tools which Dr. Thomas Sowell uses so skillfully and which the immigration advocates are loathe to consider when they can use emotion, sob stories and slogans instead.
3 posted on 04/16/2009 11:54:00 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Are there any men left in Washington? Or, are there only cowards? Ahmad Shah Massoud)
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To: Vigilanteman

You’re absolutely right. :)

4 posted on 04/16/2009 11:57:06 AM PDT by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: Vigilanteman

These FACTS need to be condensed into single sentence phrases. The average libtard attention span is measured in nanoseconds.

5 posted on 04/16/2009 11:58:41 AM PDT by skeeter
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To: jazusamo

What’s with these Presidents that don’t want to close our borders?

6 posted on 04/16/2009 11:59:47 AM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote.)
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To: freekitty

It seems to me it doesn’t take an Ivy League education to realize it, just plain common sense, but that’s just my view.

7 posted on 04/16/2009 12:02:54 PM PDT by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo
[...] we are a nation of immigrants [...] Even as late as 2007, there were 38 million people living in the U.S. that were not born here.

A self-contradiction. As the author himself states, less than 13% of all residents of the U.S. were not born here. Meaning that the vast majority of residents aren't immigrants, but natives.

We are thus not a "nation of immigrants." Rather, we are a nation of native-born Americans.


8 posted on 04/16/2009 12:06:22 PM PDT by alexander_busek
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To: jazusamo

Thanks for the special ping to Herb Denenberg jaz whom I have come to appreciate as much as Dr. Sowell and Oliver North.

Should you see a Herb Denenberg article before me, please ping me. I’ll do the same for you.

“Unfortunately the Democratic Party has lost its soul.....”
writes Herb Denenberg. I believe they lost the Democrat Party to the Socialist movement many years ago. As I have written quite often since 2004 when I came aboard at FR, the Democrat Party was “hijacked” by the Socialists.

Another Myth is about “Reaching Across The Aisle”. AIN’T NO SUCH THING AS NEGOTIATING WITH A LYIN’ SOCIALIST. John McCain seems not to be able to get that through his head, OR he doesn’t want to. Unfortunately he isn’t alone in the Republican Party.

Wondering how to get the message across to him and to the others that just don’t get it.

9 posted on 04/16/2009 12:20:26 PM PDT by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists...Call 'em What you Will, They ALL have Fairies Living In Their Trees.)
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To: rockinqsranch

I’ll do that, RQSR. I’ve also come to appreciate Denenberg and have posted a number of his columns. He calls them as he sees them and he’s definitely a Conservative.

I agree with you on McCain and his reaching across the aisle. It’s time for him to retire, he’s not helping Conservatives or the Repubs. I respect his military service but he should go and enjoy his latter years outside politics.

10 posted on 04/16/2009 12:30:43 PM PDT by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: freekitty

There are no “skilled positions” that must be filled with immigrants, legal or illegal. There are millions of SKILLED Americans out of work and available for any skilled position. Any employer who hires a foreigner instead of an American should be fined out of business. Such an employer is a DISLOYAL American.

11 posted on 04/16/2009 12:34:54 PM PDT by holyscroller ( Without God, America is one nation under)
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To: jazusamo

Just misread “transnational” or whatever, and a thought flew my mind ~ what if we turned all the ILLEGAL ALIENS into TRANSGENDERED ALIENS whether they wanted to be or not. Bet they’d quit trying to bust in.

12 posted on 04/16/2009 12:37:47 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: holyscroller

Surgeons and nurses in specialized fields of study ~ we pay a high price to get the good ones, and we get them while other countries with their socialized medical systems get the dregs.

13 posted on 04/16/2009 12:39:15 PM PDT by muawiyah
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To: muawiyah

I’m for giving it a try and can you just imagine the outcry from the moonbats? :)

14 posted on 04/16/2009 12:41:26 PM PDT by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: Finny

self ping

15 posted on 04/16/2009 12:58:56 PM PDT by Finny ("Raise hell. Vote smart." -- Ted Nugent.)
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To: jazusamo

A saver ... thanks!

16 posted on 04/16/2009 6:07:16 PM PDT by lakey (To ALL Congressperps - YOU'RE FIRED!)
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