Skip to comments.The Key To Immigration Is Assimilation, Not Separatism
Posted on 08/26/2003 6:41:24 AM PDT by Isara
Victor Davis Hanson says he didn't actually want to write a book about immigration. But when his editor suggested it, he decided the issue needed to be addressed. It's the 800-pound gorilla nobody's talking about, he says.
Hanson has been a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, since 1985 and is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
His most recent work is "Mexifornia: A State of Becoming." He discussed it recently with IBD.
IBD: How exactly is immigration changing California?
Hanson: It used to be done in a way that was legal and measured, and allowed the natural process of assimilation to work pretty well.
But since about 1975, the number of the people who are coming has grown. And we, the host country, have given up on assimilation and allowed separatism to occur in our schools. The result is that we are creating an amoral apartheid society.
IBD: This is a result of illegal immigration and not the legal variety?
Hanson: Yeah, it is mostly the illegal immigration. We don't know how many illegal people are in the U.S. It's somewhere between 9 and 20 million. That's the problem.
IBD: Is this a factor in the state's budget crisis?
Hanson: It is a factor. It is not the factor. The main factor is the Legislature's and the governor's mismanagement of hiring almost 50,000 new employees in five years.
But if you look at the statistics of the people who came here illegally in the last five or six years, the studies that I read say they will draw five times more in entitlements than they will contribute in taxes. That's a problem.
IBD: Will this be an issue in the recall election?
Hanson: I think it will, for a variety of reasons.
For one, we have candidates, whether it is Arnold Schwarzenegger or Arianna Huffington, who are immigrants. We have a lieutenant governor who is a Hispanic, and that will contribute to the discussion. We have a budgetary crisis that will cause people to look at how the money is spent.
And we have a governor who is radically changing his position on the issue. For example, he's vetoed driver's licenses for illegal aliens in the past. Now he's promised to sign that bill when it gets on his desk.
IBD: If the mainstream politicians don't talk about it, do you see the conditions right for a demagogue?
Hanson: I do. I'm really afraid of that. Remember, this is a citizenry that voted in the same year to eliminate affirmative action and legalize marijuana. It's a pretty volatile citizenry.
IBD: Has 9-11 changed the atmosphere regarding this issue?
Hanson: I think it has.
IBD: What does the native California Hispanic population think of this issue?
Hanson: I think they're torn. On the one hand, some of our finest citizens are Mexican-American. They came, or their parents came, legally. They're taxpayers. So they have the same concerns as everybody else.
On the other hand, some of them realize a special pride in their heritage. They are very sensitive to people who call for reform because they think it might be directed at them when it is not.
IBD: Is assimilation in fact occurring?
Hanson: It is. I make that clear in my book. There is a powerful engine for that in popular culture, whether it is the Williams sisters or Tiger Woods or Jennifer Lopez. People of all different races are intermarrying. They have the same taste in television and in movies.
But the schools are promoting a multicultural separatist ideology whether it's bilingual education or separate graduation ceremonies. We are in a race between the powers of assimilation and the powers of separatism.
That is the issue at the heart of it. We just need people to come in from Mexico in a little smaller numbers and through a legal process, so we can assimilate them legally.
IBD: Many free-market economists say the benefits of mass immigration outweigh the costs. What do you think?
Hanson: One thing I've noticed is that each side tries to produce statistics that refute the other. It's hard to adjudicate which body of evidence is correct.
My feeling is that the contribution of unskilled labor to the overall GDP of the U.S. is rather small. But it's very important to localized sectors like restaurants, building and agriculture within the Southwest.
It's a sad commentary on California when you have a 9% unemployment rate in many counties and the employers are saying nobody will work and they have to bring in people from Mexico.
IBD: Given the length of the U.S.-Mexican border and the countries' economic differences, is a restrictive immigration policy even possible?
Hanson: This is a relatively recent phenomenon. Prior to 1970, nobody was talking about militarizing the border. Not in 1940 or 1930 or 1900. That's because there wasn't this alternate world of jurisprudence that protected people, both those who were hired illegally and worked illegally.
IBD: So this is primarily a matter of changing the political process?
Hanson: It has to start with a dialogue. Those on the open borders-corporate-libertarian side have precluded debate by demonizing people as nativist, protectionist or Neanderthal. They work hand in glove with the racial left, which demonizes people as racist. Between the two, they have precluded almost all debate on it.
IBD: Do we need stuff like English-only laws?
Hanson: We've never needed them before. We just need to revert back to what we used to do: encourage them to learn English.
IBD: Is the situation in California different from other states that border Mexico?
Hanson: It is. One is that because California has a much larger population and a much greater economy, it is the entry of choice.
Two, there is a perception among the people from Mexico that the percentage of Californians who are of Mexican background is larger and the political climate is much more liberal and laid back. Therefore there is a much greater chance of things like amnesty or driver's licenses in California than in, say, Texas.
IBD: Suppose illegal immigration were curtailed and growers couldn't get this cheaper labor. Would that have any negative economic consequences?
Hanson: I think in the short term it surely would. We would go back the situation in the '60s and early '70s. Back then, there was a drive for mechanization. The other thing was we had a strong union movement.
Now I could take you to the malls of Fresno and show you 5,000 to 10,000 people on a weekday morning doing nothing when the farm bureau says we are short 6,000 to 7,000 workers for the harvest.
There's a logic there that would work. It just requires a little short-term pain.
IBD: Any final thoughts?
Hanson: I really think this is a moral issue. It is very amoral for Californians to use an entire population and keep it in the shadows to do all of the work they don't want to do and then never talk about it.
Pretty much spot on from my perspective.
If we do not, as a people, begin moving in those directions soon...there is going to be hell to pay. In many areas, there already is.
We need immigrants in out country...legal, hardworking immigrants who come here to work, become Americans and adopt our values and moral standards that allow for freedom. We always have...it is how we started...it continually refreshes us and builds our strength.
But we do not need those coming looking for a handout, or leeches...or worse. The current system and lack of inforcement of legal immigration practise literally invites the latter in.
I am afraid that unless we get control of this soon, we will be voerwhelmed by all of those negatives and it will lead to very bad places.
To change the entire situation requires only the will of the Congress. Now you know who to blame, since it hasn't changed.
Uh, no we don't. We need to stop telling Americans that they are "overpopulating" the country, so go get an abortion, little girl.
If abortion and the destruction of the family at the hands of the cultural Marxists had been defeated, the United States would have grown to its present population without the need for immigration.
It was not my intent to say we need immigrants as a population issue. We've had five children ourselves, who are now producing their own. As long as moral minded Americans continue to marry in the traditional sense and raise good families, we will be in a position to addreess any population issues per sey (as in having enough).
But, immigrants, of the hard-working, God-fearing, I-want-to-be-an-American variety help keep us renewed and help fuel our free enterprize and ingenuity engines like our own immigrant fathers have done from the start. Our immigration policy must be one that finds and rewards the type of immigrants I initially spoke of...and dissuades the latter variety...and then deports the illegals who try to come in anyway.
Of the two ills, abortion and out of control illegal entry...abortion is the worst, because it strikes at the heart and very foundation of our liberty. Both must be corrected. Both are destroying our nation.
42% of hispanic births are now to unwed mother and welfare rates along the Mexican border are 50% in many counties. I don't distinguish too much between legal and illegal --- because here all it takes is to make it over the border to give birth, apply for welfare and the baby is legal, the mother gets to stay being the relative of a US citizen. These kinds have no intentions of ever working in this country and their kids end up on the streets and in gangs. I'll take the hard-working illegals who leave their kids back in Mexico any day over the moochers that bring their kids here for the US taxpayer to provide for. Education and health care are far cheaper for Mexicans in Mexico.
The very first thing we should do is end dual citizenship where people are proud Mexican citizens and waving their flag but able to collect welfare because of obtaining US citizenship. President Fox envisions a USA where there are large colonies of his citizens still patriotic to Mexico and with Mexican elections being held here also but who can access any American welfare or education program.
America cannot continue to absorb an increasing number of immigrants year after year after year. There comes a point where we are maxed out, where we cannot assimilate any more immigrants.
If we fail to heed this truth, then American culture, along with the English language in America, will cease to exist.
I work in a city in New Jersey, and already I cannot find anyone who speaks English for blocks and blocks on end. They are nearly all Hispanic, from Guatamala, Mexico, etc., living 12 people to a house, nearly all illegal.
Police have to hire special translators just to handle all the crime, and it's no secret that there is an extraordinarily high crime rate in those neighborhoods.
While we may need some minimal immigrant influx, we certainly don't need to be flooded.
My philosphy is live and let live, but I dont want my children and grandchildren having to fight a revolution when the militant immigrant population gets so big, it wants to take over control.
I understood completely. I just threw in the population control angle because it is one of the major reasons that there was a "birth dearth" in the late 70's and 80's among the native born. Remember all that idiocy?
As far as needing immigrants for metaphysical reasons like "refreshing us"? Nonsense. The immigrants coming now add nothing. They came to a country already built, already the dominant nation on the planet. They are quite simply the most undeserving, luckiest human beings who ever lived, because they walked into paradise uninvited, a paradise that they and their families had NOTHING to do with (except for hating us, usually). And they are twisting that paradise, and changing it, to something ugly and divisive.
Crap. Immigration should have stayed ended in 1924. It has only been the incessant, tenacious gnawing of rats like Kennedy, Immanuel Cellar, Phil Hart et al who have torn down the walls and admitted those who have come and live here in silent contempt of us, and long to displace us out of their contempt. Think I don't know what I'm talking about? I live in the most immigrant heavy areas of the country. I talk and work with them every day. Even the ones who are predisposed to liking the place speak endlessly of discrimination, how America was all about slavery, how America denied everyone's rights, how we never should have taken the West, and on and on and on and on. It is NAUSEATING. Why they don't pack and leave, I don't know. But one thing I do know. There's nothing "refreshing" about them. More like fatiguing.
And as far as "immigrant fathers", I wouldn't know. Its been 10 generations since we had those; a lot has happened since then. For me, the "old country" is Nebraska and Indiana. Even further back, and it's North Carolina, and the original settlements on the Yadkin. Do a Google on "Regulator" and "Alamance" and maybe you can read about my "fathers".
They weren't "immigrants" even then. They were already Americans. For them, Europe was GONE. At that point, 60 years gone.
I loath and detest the moochers and am sick of our politicians catering to the illegals as much as anyone...that HAS to stop. We are being invaded by those types...not the other.