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.
And I can show you an entire TOWN in California where the Mexican flag flies over the main street every day, and Mexican nationals (or rather "illegals", to be un-PC) are the OVERWHELMING majority (like, 85%). Five miles from the beach, and 500 miles north of the Mexican border.
Your children fight a revolution when the foreigners try to take over? Hell, you'll probably be around to watch if things continue the way they are.
No "nation" has ever been inundated this way in this short of a time and remained a "nation"!
When that time comes, you can bet that 99% of the legal immigrants, who came here to enjoy the very liberty, freedom and way of life we are losing, will be fighting right next to us. And I for one will be glad they are there.
I have written about the same, in a fictional sense, HERE