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As Long as We Remember...

July 4, 2008

Modifying Lady Liberty’s Invitation

Steven R. Berryman

In search of straight talk about immigration law reform, happenstance found me at yet another “Maryland Thursday Meeting” in Annapolis. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center For Immigration Studies (CIS) was the headline speaker.


Mr. Krikorian came prepared to take on all comers and kick off his brand new book, “The New Case Against Immigration – Both Legal and Illegal.” I was able to appropriate and clutched on to an advanced uncorrected proof edition for review. Many others, less quick to see the opportunity, lost out!


The cover shows the Statue of Liberty animated with an outstretched hand facing you like a traffic cop indicating STOP at an uncontrolled intersection.


Being fully prepared for an onslaught of partisan xenophobic and paranoid discourse, I was shocked by what I had stumbled onto: “The New Case” fully fleshed out “newthink” that was way out of the box.


The book is reminiscent of a Pat Buchanan book in terms of highly researched historical framework, factual detail and edge. But where Mr. Buchanan went straight to the worst-case scenarios, Mr. Krikorian kept it alive merely on the merits of his findings.


Prefacing the books overarching concept, “It’s not the immigrants, it’s us.” This is the clue to the open-minded scholarly tone here. The types of people immigrating, the reasons for immigrating, their economic and educational backgrounds…are very similar to what we had 100 years ago, in our great waves of mass migration.


Mr. Krikorian posits that “they are coming to a very different America,” and therein lies all of the difference.


“When you judge the success of immigration as a process, you must observe the rate of assimilation,” he wrote. Some of his metrics involved items such as the tendency to master English successfully and with a sense of urgency, and surveys asking recent immigrants whether they consider themselves to be “hyphenated-Americans” or revert to a generic such as Asian or Hispanic.


The former is obstructed by crutches in the system caused by liberal affirmative action programs under the guise of “diversity.” Bi-lingual signage, Telemundo TV, and a race to multiculturalism are all culprits, depriving immigrants both legal and illegal of much needed incentive to assimilate into American culture. The illegality issue is separate, but related.


The latter indicates that clannish behaviors and social isolation are fully supported by changes in America over the past 100 years. The resulting peer pressure retards the connection to an association with America as a sense of pride


Another disincentive to assimilation is work and education related affirmative action. To rise out of the system and graduate as Americans means to lose this financial benefit. This is a trap for them, just as blacks have been trapped as a result of the aftermath of slavery.


No more can America assimilate huge waves of immigrants, simply based on our best humanitarian intentions, or on traditions of the past. “The days of mass migration leading to effective mass assimilation are gone forever, as we are a ‘mature country’ and have changed for the good as well as the bad,” Mr. Krikorian says.


Structurally, Mr. Krikorian outlines key differences and impacts to us:


First, in the past we had not just simply been a nation of immigrants, as that is only partly true. We also had settlers that headed straight to homesteads in the Mid-West and West. Now the frontiers are closed.


Second, “trans-nationalism” is possible as facilitated by very cheap transportation and communication prices as compared to the past. A dual identity is thereby supported by more crutches to avoid assimilation. Frequent trips home, and calls or emails cost peanuts by comparison to life in 1908.


Regarding education, we have surely lost our way. Mr. Krikorian notes that our schools were originally focused on lessons and morals related to efficient assimilation into our country. “Schools have become a battle ground between those that want to transmit information and those wanting to transform it,” he writes in the book.”


Recent students tested out on this over time show a remarkable loss of lessons urgently needed from our past history, some obfuscated forever by political correctness.


There are others, but this book is must reading for everyone.


Immigration itself is not “diverse” anymore as it had been in the past. We are primarily seeing Hispanics and Asians as the vast majority of newcomers. Their concentrations allow for isolated communities, some locked in the past. The Hispanic group alone, including Central Americans plus Mexicans is larger than the next 10 national groups combined.


This opportunity allows for Hispanics, as an example, to demand that America come to them, rather than the reverse, which is correct and traditional assimilation. “The cost to all involved is that a strong sense of national identity is lost, including an association with our history, culture, and legends,” Mr. Krikorian says.


Our current immigration system is in a political gridlock as manifested by a loss of political will. Laws remain selectively enforced, and localities are faced with choices of doing federal work themselves.


One last item is that the current system is so broken that even the legal immigrant population flow is riddled by between 40-50% illegals, masquerading via false identity to get here and escape who-knows-what from their past. Perhaps criminal or medical problems…


“The New Case Against Immigration” is a must read for anyone wanting to get to solutions based on the research pointing to what we have gotten ourselves into today. Much of it is self-inflicted.


Followed by the meat of the book that he calls his “unified field theory on immigration,” in a nod to Albert Einstein (another immigrant), the final chapter outlines Mr. Krikorian’s solutions and incremental steps that relate to these outlined issues.


“Until we develop the will and means to enforce current immigration law, changing law will have little effect. Modern America has outgrown mass immigration,” Mr. Krikorian writes.


Lady Liberty, perhaps it should be “Give me some of your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…”


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