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« More on Making Books | Main | Midnight Musings »

January 24, 2004

Immigration Update

Dear Friedrich --

Steve Sailer shows what's wrong with Tamar Jacoby's new open-the-borders immigration book (here). The Telegraph reports that an official Dutch commission has concluded that the country's 30-year effort to turn itself into a multicultural society has failed, here. Victor Davis Hanson pokes some large holes in Bush's immigration proposals, here. Peter Brimelow (here) thinks Bush ought to be impeached: "The Bush proposals are mad, totally nuts, they will simply flood America with Third Worlders and result in its becoming like Brazil," he says.

And, hey, I just noticed a new book on a theme I've been pounding away at myself. It's called The Presumed Alliance: The Unspoken Conflict Between Latinos and Blacks and What It Means for America, by Nicolas C. Vaca. (It's buyable here.) Hostilities between blacks and Latinos: something we never had much of before, that's inescapably with us now, and that's almost certain to get worse. And it's entirely due to lax enforcement of that lousy 1965 immigration law.



UPDATE: Alan Sullivan comments here.

UPDATE UPDATE: Steve Sailer has a provocative new piece about Europe's approaches to immigration challenges here, and he points to a fascinating Bruce Bawer article about Muslims and marriage patterns in Norway. "Members of most non-Western immigrant groups are, in overwhelming numbers, not only marrying within their own ethnic groups," Bawer writes, "but marrying partners - often their own cousins - from their countries of origin ... The trend, in short, is toward increased segregation, not increased integration."

posted by Michael at January 24, 2004


The Dutch immigration policy has mainly failed because there never was any. That is, none of the cabinets there have been were willing to acknowledge the Netherlands had become an immigrant country. So, anyone that could come in, came in, because there always has been enough work no Dutchman wanted to do. Meaning we got lots and lots of illiterate Turks and Morroccans, that would have given trouble in any society. Even in their own, had they moved from their rural origins to their own capitals.

This problem has been known for more than twenty years. But it was just not political correct to address it. That's why the parliamentary report isn't very good; it was written by political parties that weren't willing to announce their own guilt or failings.

Meanwhile, because there never were separate policies for immigrants and asylum seekers, lots of highly schooled refugees that could have been very useful for Dutch society are thrown out as soon as possible.

Things like this make me embarrassed to be Dutch.

Posted by: ijsbrand on January 25, 2004 5:28 AM

Thanks for the info - fascinating. And "no policy" rings a bell. That seems to be our approach here too, alas ....

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 25, 2004 10:05 AM

I think there's a policy, Michael. It's just that a lot of it is unwritten, and rests on uspoken assumptions, some of them wrong. I would argue that on-balance, the U.S. is doing pretty well absorbing heavy immigration, especially in comparison with some European countries. We have practice, of course; and while the word "assimiliation" has become unfashionable, the phenomenon still occurs, albeit with less cultural support than it once had. This 2BH entry prompted me to write on the subject today.

Posted by: Alan Sullivan on January 25, 2004 3:59 PM

ijsbrand, stomp on me if I'm off base here, but doesn't an 'all party' report like this shift things? From what little I know of Dutch culture, this would seem to signal that the issue is now open for debate, whereas before it was being soundly ignored?

At least now it's on the table, and it wouldn't be considered so unseemly to discuss it, Pim F. RIP.

Posted by: David Mercer on January 26, 2004 3:16 PM

Immigration restrictionists need a new language, I think. It is pretty hard to read Pete Brimelow, for instance, without concluding that he simply doesn't like non-whites. Steve Sailer is less obnoxious but suffers from the same problem. What Americans need is some way of articulating the need for immigration reform without seeming to say to their friends, neighbors, and relatives, "I wish you would go back to where you came from."

Posted by: Jeff Culbreath on January 26, 2004 4:38 PM

I think this whole immigration discussion smacks of intolerance quite frankly. Since when do you care about the Dutch? Aren't they all "just pot-heads" afterall? Why haven't you looked into Canada's fairly successful attempts at being a multi-cultural society, or would that just invite "Canada lets in terrorists" arguments?

I enjoy reading 2Blowhards because it offers me food for thought. I'm young and more socialist than capitalist, and as such enjoy the alternative viewpoints you present. (I really appreciated the Christopher Alexander posts last year). Friends of mine, after I'd recomended your site for just those reasons, described you guys as two conservative narrow-minded middle aged wankers, and recent discussions have shown how true that assessment is. I'm telling you this so at least you know how embarrassing you're making yourselves look. But, as I see it, middle-aged wankers have earned the right to be that way, while the young nipping at your heels have the right to make fun of you for it and to make sure that your generational legacy isn't so set in stone that we can't correct your mistakes in the future.

As I see it, the mighty USA is awash with illegal immigrants already, who are an immensely vital part of your economy. You just don't notice it when they're Canadian and white (as I know that many Cndn artists are working under the table in New York's gallery scene). Bush at least wants to make conditions more favorable for them and to make sure that this slave-economy of yours isn't ripped to shreds by overzealous immigration enforcement. It's kindof like the bacteria in your gut, working away helping you digest food. You don't realize it until you take penicillin for an ear-infection and have a side-effect of diarrhea. The USA really needs to embrace it's immigrants, not treat them like parasites.

Posted by: Timothy C on January 26, 2004 5:08 PM

ijsbrand, stomp on me if I'm off base here, but doesn't an 'all party' report like this shift things? From what little I know of Dutch culture, this would seem to signal that the issue is now open for debate, whereas before it was being soundly ignored?

The all party approach only meant the parlementarians looked for concensus. So it was safe for them to say that integration had failed - or even that immigration had cost us more in wellfare on other social security than the new workers had added to the Dutch economy - but it wasn't safe to go into the question of what caused more than twenty years of failing immigration policy.

And I admit, it is a very complicated problem. But it simply isn't enough to tackle it by blaming everything on Islam only. Or to suddenly make it almost impossible to come and live in the Netherlands, like the policy is now. That's just politicians trying to look tough, by attacking easy targets.

Meanwhile the Dutch middle class is leaving cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam slowly but surely, because it has become too expensive to buy houses there for them. Soon only millionaires and the people in housing projects are left; or in other words, within fifteen to twenty years immigrants will make up 50% or more of the population of the major cities.

That's only one aspect.

So, a real immigration policy asks of our politicians a far broader vision than they have ever been able to formulate. And it doesn't help here if they keep ignoring what has gone wrong before, and just blame everything on the immigrants.

One of the most interesting opinions on this subject is given by the French scholar Germaine Tillion in Le Harem et les cousins. In which she shows the traditions many of our Muslim immigrants live by; the low position of their women, their family honour, and their severe honour codes, are much much older than Islam. They are most probably based on a ancient culture common in all the countries around the Mediterranean, in which the family always was the core, and everyone only looked to the family for help first. In fact these traditions still live in on Mafia families as well. But Italy has had the opportunity to industrialize, or in other words make people independent from their families for work and income.

Yet, a lot of our immigrants still have to overcome that barrier; to learn they have become members of a far more individualized society.

But, politicians are blaming everything on Islam right now. That's easier, even though it is wrong and probably dangerous.

Posted by: ijsbrand on January 26, 2004 5:37 PM

Jeff -- Point taken. And I wonder if it might not also be worthwhile to rethink the term "immigration restrictionist." The only person who isn't for immigration restriction of one sort or another is the person who advocates totally open borders. Everyone else is for restricting immigration in one way or another. How many? And on what basis? And with what kinds of expectation of assimilation? It's strange these questions aren't more openly discussed. They were quite openly discussed early the 20th century; they were openly discussed at the time of the 1965 immigration law. I find it bizarre that a topic so important has become something people in polite society consider untouchable. It's someone's amazing propaganda victory. But whose?

Timothy C. -- But we are a couple of cranky middle-aged wankers. Never claimed not to be. You noticed the name of the site, didn't you? Hope you get a kick out of dropping by from time to time even so.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 27, 2004 1:01 AM

I don't know what you think you gain by giving so much time to racist arguments against immigration. And they are racist arguments, make no mistake. The Steve Sailers, John Derbyshires and Peter Brimelows of the world would have no trouble at all with high levels of white immigration to this country. Derbyshire and Brimelow are white immigrants themselves.

Derbyshire has flat out admitted that he's a racist, although he insists that he's a "mild" and "tolerant" one. His hysterical reaction in the NRO Corner to Bush's immigration speech sounded anything but mild and tolerant, though.

The craziest moment occurred when Derbyshire bragged that he could "round up" a hundred illegal immigrants before breakfast. Walter Mitty, call home.

I've seen pictures of Derbyshire. As I said on another site, if that wimp tried to round up one immigrant, she'd beat the snot out of him.

If you regard these guys as your "experts" on immigration, God (or Gaia or whatever) help you.

Posted by: Casey Abell on January 27, 2004 11:12 AM

Guys, guys, guys, the racism criticism is simply overdone. I have black, Latino and Asian employees. They don't quit on me, so I guess they don't think I'm a racist.

The difficulty I have with mass Latino immigration is largely economic in nature. To wit, low-income immigrants (legal or otherwise) are, in economic terms, essentially a case of externalities. To wit, their employers make money off them largely by shoving the costs associated with such workers onto the public at large. Perhaps you've noticed relatively few businesses provide low-wage immigrant labor with health insurance. The demands the children of such low-income, poorly educated workers make on the education system are real and have virtually, for example, destroyed the Los Angeles Unified School District as a place to educate students who are not the children of low-income, poorly educated parents. Have any of our critics who are so blithely ready to call us racists been forced to put their children in private school and pay private school tuitions? I have. I think the expression 'walk a mile in my shoes' might be in order here. None of this is a criticism of immigrants as individuals, but the problem doesn't arrive on an individual-by-individual basis, but rather as a result of such large numbers of people that their presence skews economic and social trends.

I could multiply the examples, but they have everything to do with the physical proximity of third-world countries (Mexico and Central American nations) to a first-world economy (United States) a situation which does not obtain in Canada or, to my knowledge, anywhere else in the world.

I think pro-open-borders types need to dig a little deeper into the argument bag; just grasping the "you're a racist" club isn't going to work forever.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on January 27, 2004 12:21 PM

If the club works, or the show fits...

Are you seriously suggesting that Sailer and Brimelow and Derbyshire would have any problems with high levels of white immigration? These gentlemen, in their more honest moments, would certainly agree that white immigrants - and probably, in Derbyshire's case for personal reasons, east Asian immigrants - are welcome. So why is the racism charge unfounded?

If you want to give lots of space on your site to racist arguments against immigration, it's no skin off my nose. But don't whine when people notice the obvious.

In fact, let's ask for a little intellectual honesty. If Latino immigrants impose "externalities," why don't white immigrants do the same? I don't see you complaining about Russian immigrants imposing unacceptable costs on New York City, for instance. Why not?

Posted by: Casey Abell on January 27, 2004 12:39 PM

Should have been "shoe," but I kinda like the "show."

Posted by: Casey Abell on January 27, 2004 12:40 PM

One more hack at this, and I'll move on to more pleasant topics.

I just can't abide the lack of intellectual honesty when people say the immigrantion issue is "primarily economic." No, it's not, and nobody's fooled. The debate is primarily racial, or more exactly, ethnic. And I don't see what is gained by denying this.

Brimelow and Sailer and Derbyshire believe that Latino immigrants are, on avergae, inferior to whites and east Asians in intelligence for genetic reasons. I really don't think any of these gentlemen would deny this claim. Brimelow and Sailer write for, an explicitly white racialist site, and Derbyshire has expressed support for Sailer's views.

As a result, these three don't want Latino (and certainly not black) immigration to this country. They believe it will lower the average intelligence level of the U.S., bringing us closer to thrid world status.

Again, I don't believe I'm being in any way unfair to them in this statement of their position.

Now, they're free to argue this point of view, and people are free to reply. But let's not pretend that the argument is about something else.

Posted by: Casey Abell on January 27, 2004 1:05 PM

Casey -- Brimelow, Sailer and Derbyshire will speak for themselves. Me, I'd be bitching about the situation if it were tens of millions of people coming from any one culture. So let's drop words like "racist," please.

The legal level of immigration is very high -- this isn't terribly controversial, and there are people on the left (labor, environmentalists) who think so too. Plus the legal levels aren't being enforced -- are you in favor of that? And the fact is that people from one specific country are overwhelming all other immigrants. Are you in favor of that too? Do you want to explain to someone from Zaire why her chances aren't anything like as good as someone from Mexico's?

Are you also in favor of there being no discussion about the hows and whys of immigration? Perhaps not. But if you are, that strikes me as odd and anti-democratic. You aren't interested in what other Americans think about the current situtation? Why not? It often puzzles me, the way some people seem determined to win the debate by forbidding debate. But perhaps I'm taking you wrong, and if so, apologies.

BTW, even if you accept the intention of the 1965 act as a good one, what has in fact resulted bears little resemblance to the intention. The intention was for things to be balanced and color-blind. What has in fact resulted (thanks to perverse incentives and lax enforcement) is anything but balanced and colorblind -- people from Mexico represent something like 30% of all immigrants. That's a higher level of immigrants from one specific country than ever occurred in the bad old days the 1965 law was meant to be a corrective to. If "lack of balance" was a problem in 1904, why isn't it a problem (especially when it's considerably more severe) in 2004?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 27, 2004 1:11 PM

Where do you get the odd idea that I'm against a discussion about the hows and whys of immigration? Right now I'm discussing...the hows and whys of immigration. I simply want the discussion to be an intellectually honest one.

If most immigration consisted of white people from, say, Russia, would you regard it as a serious problem? If not, why not? Why are immigrants from Mexico more of a problem than, say, immigrants from Switzerland would be?

Also, you're the ones linking to Brimelow and Sailer and Derbyshire. I know, a link doesn't mean an endorsement, but I've never seen you express disagreement with these three on immigration. And I maintain that their opposition to large-scale immigration in primarily based on racial, or ethnic, considerations. I also maintain that they would admit as much - in fact, they've pretty much admitted it already.

So what's the problem with honesty in this discussion? You seem to be the ones eager to shut off genuine debate with your boilerplate about unfair racism charges.

Posted by: Casey Abell on January 27, 2004 1:20 PM

Casey -- If you've got a problem with Sailer, Derbyshire, Brimelow, etc, that's fine with me.
They'll speak for themselves, and their email addresses are easy to find on their sites. Whatever their virtues or deficits, I think they've all been brave in forcing the topic a little way into the public discussion. You still don't see much discussion of immigration challenges in lefty publications (aside from labor or environment-specific ones), let alone any acknowledgement that there are challenges. Yet when you visit Arizona or Texas (or even Long Island) it's a topic that's much in the air. Me, I'm grateful to see the discussion get going.

You did notice I said that I'd have probs if 30% of all immigrants were coming (many of them illegally) from any one country, right? And you also noticed that Bawer's piece is about Norway's experience with Muslims, and that Vaca's book is about Latinos and blacks and is written by a Latino? The various immigration-related questions that are arising around the world right now are pretty fascinating, don't you find? The States isn't the only country wrestling with challenges, and I suspect that the public conversation is going to have to start taking much more notice of immigration challgenges in the near future. From Bawer's account, and from the existence of that Dutch report (as well as the whole Pim Fortuyn phenom), other countries are well ahead of us, at least in acknowledging that there are things that need discussing. A French friend of mine (lefty, by the way) is quite eloquent and interesting about the probs France is having, and quite a lot more open about the topic than just about any lefty American I've run into.

Anyway, on with the conversation: what's your preference where immigration-into-America goes? Happy with the current state of affairs? Would you prefer to see any particular changes? Personally I think current rates are too high, and current arrangements (including perverse incentives in the law and lousy enforcement) bias the system 'way too much towards Mexico. Which, by the way, I don't think does Mexico any real favors. But I realize that these are points reasonable people can disagree about.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 27, 2004 1:53 PM

You're still dodging my questions about whether white immigration is preferable to Latino immigration. But that's okay. Lots of people dodge those questions.

In fact, I think Bush's proposal for a guest worker program is a good start. The Wall Street Journal today runs an interesting editorial on our repeated and failed attempts to (sometimes literally) wall off our southern border. Bush's idea may not be perfect, but it's much more practical and humane than nativist longings to expel every illegal and seal off our borders.

By the way, you now seem to be distancing yourself from the Sailers and Brimelows and Derbyshires of the world - whose links you've enthusiastically provided in the past. Why?

Posted by: Casey Abell on January 27, 2004 2:18 PM

Casey -- I'm not dodging your questions, I'm marveling at how fixated you are. It isn't possible to disagree with you -- or even have different preferences -- without being labeled a racist, or looked at suspiciously? That's pretty harsh, as well as rather insulting.

Incidentally, a few more reasons why I think the whole "racism" thing is overdone and counterproductive (especially where discussions of immigration policy go) is that it takes so little into account. For instance, try a visit to There you'll find recent (self-described) brown (ie.,Indian and Padistani, if I remember right) immigrants who think current American immigration arrangements are nuts, as well as wildly biased against people like them, and who discuss openly questions of the "quality" of immigration candidates. Are they being racist? According to whom? (By the way, the gnxp people are fans of Sailer's.) Or how about the American black people who are just waking up -- none too happily in many cases -- to the fact that their voice is being (in fact, already has been) overwhelmed. Are they being racist? How about people -- I'm one of them -- who think that post-1965 immigration policies have done a terrible disservice to American black people? You may disagree with me on this, but why see it as a racist or even suspicious position to hold?

If we're going to throw the word around, why isn't it more racist to be pro-current policies -- which are, in effect, biased against the entire non-Mexican world, and which seem to have it in for American black people too?

It seems to me that throwing around charges of racism does nothing but muddy the waters and prevent an essential conversation from getting started, let alone making much progress. My view is that it makes much more sense to assume that everyone's a decent person and wishes humanity well -- and that it's quite possible that disgreements may still take place anyway. That way, a discussion can actually occur. Whatever my personal prefs where immigration policies are concerned, which are no more important than anyone else's, what really irks me is that the conversation isn't being had.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on January 27, 2004 4:11 PM

Ah, trolls who won't answer your questions, and insist on an answer to their's.

How lovely.

So Casey, rather than just lobbing racism charges around, what would YOU do? Keep things as they are, open the borders completely, what?

Pray tell, please...

Posted by: David Mercer on January 27, 2004 4:19 PM


Your remark: "If the club works" strikes me as all too indicative of your motives: in short, to put a stop to rational discussion of this topic with highly charged rhetoric. Apparently, you're not interested in inconvenient facts, just in winning the debate or controlling policy.

And your remark:

I just can't abide the lack of intellectual honesty when people say the immigrantion issue is "primarily economic." No, it's not, and nobody's fooled. The debate is primarily racial, or more exactly, ethnic. And I don't see what is gained by denying this based on what, exactly? Superior insight available to you only? I notice you don't even try to engage the economic issues, except to ask why I don't speak out against white European illegals in New York. That just might be because (1) I don't live in New York and (2) I don't know the immigrants of whom you speak or their levels of education or job skills. I do know what I see in front of me in Los Angeles, which is now the major metropolitan area in the country blessed with the highest percentage of its population lacking a 9th grade education.

Perhaps we might discuss why you're so fixed at finding racists under the bed.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on January 27, 2004 5:10 PM

Like Tolstioy, "Can't be silent"
Ms. Abell,what exactly you have against Russian immigrants? Would yopu list your objections and provide factual statistics if you want to start an intelligent debate and don't throw phrases like this one:
...I don't see you complaining about Russian immigrants imposing unacceptable costs on New York City..
Just to show the amount of businesses Russian immigrants bring today into the city, I'd advise you to visit this site, see left column?
Sorry, i's difficult to get actual figures of the amount of Russian immigrants on Welfare from Dept. of labor, I'll try that tomorrow.
But I'd appreciate if Ms.Abell back up her statements with facts first.

Posted by: Tatyana on January 27, 2004 6:52 PM

I don't have to look under the bed for racists. John Derbyshire has publicly identified himself as a racist. Steve Sailer and Peter Brimelow write for an explicitly (quite proudly, in fact) white racialist web site. I'm just looking at what's in front of me. Sorry if the sight offends, but what am I supposed to do? Pretend I don't see?

I'm not saying that you agree with everything these people say. But you link to their articles without a hint of disagreement.

On another point, since I support Bush's guest worker idea, I don't understand why anybody would think I'm biased against Russian immigrants. (Oh, it's Mr. Abell, not Ms. Abell.)

It's obvious that we've entered into stock denunciations of anybody who discusses racism frankly. So there's no use continuing the thread. If you want to keep enthusiatically posting links to the Sailers and Brimelows of the world, nothing I say will dissuade you. I've made my points, you've returned the standard replies, time to move on.

Posted by: Casey Abell on January 28, 2004 10:35 AM


But you continue to dodge the main point, which is not whether or not you can tar people with some associated tint of racism (always possible, and surely possible in your case if you left a better paper trail) but, rather, whether or not there is any substance to the arguments these people are making. It is as though you are assuming, without bothering to argue for it, that a principle of absolutely equal treatment of all races is the ur-principle, and anything one does that has a disparate impact on a racial basis must be stopped immediately no matter what other issues are involved. Actually, I kind of like that idea, since it is clear that the burden progressive taxation falls more heavily on whites; we'll get rid of that. And we'll ban jazz, because you know that employment on the basis of jazz skill discriminates against non-blacks. Yeah, and there are sports like long distance running in which Kenyans (oops, blacks) are world dominant; they gotta go. Gosh, this is fun, Casey, you've certainly convinced me. Oh, wait a minute, there's immigration...which seems to tilt toward Hispanics and particularly Mexicans (you know, La Raza). Geeze, that sounds, well, kinda racist. Hmm, have to look into that.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on January 28, 2004 11:00 AM

Sorry, Mr. Casey, for confusing your gender. Certain names still puzzle me, like Pat, f.ex. I don't know, what made me automatically think you are a female, may be certain manner of discussion you seem to employ- you know, ignoring the opponents' arguments, not backing up your statements with facts, or labeling people just for provocation? I speak from inside knowledge, you know.
And you ask, why I think you are biased against Russian immigrants? By your own insistence on the topic, Mr. Abell. You've metioned it a couple of times (see above), and I still didn't hear answer to my question. So, let's return to the issue of unacceptable costs imposed on New Yerk City. If you are talking about legal immigrants from former Soviet Union, they come to this country with a right to work; majority of them do and quite successfully (see the link I've provided earlier), and some (usually the old or the sick)don't, but the working pay enough in taxes on all levels to cover it. I requested some statistics from NY Dept.of Labor rep and as soon as I am provided with them, will share with you. If you are talking about illegals, who by the way, are usually here on a tourist visa, as op. to Mexicans who have no visa at all - they don't impose any costs on the city, simply because they don't have right to same benefits as legal residents. Let's see: no SSI, no social security benefits of any kind, they don't have a right to low income housing, to Welfare, they don't send their children to public schools (Russian authorities only give out-visas if the family is kept hostage - and I can back it up), they don't use medical assistance - private is way too expensive for them, may be only EM in hospitals, but I know enough illegals to tell you - they tend not to use it at all, in fear to be deported. These people usually college educated, a lot of them in humanities and music and here because in today's Russia they can't find jobs in their field and menual jobs are taken, very patriotic (of Russia) and basically here only temporary. And yes, they get deported all the time. So to answer your question, why we are not discussing unacceptable costs Russian immigrants impose on NY - we are not because the costs are negligable.
Now, if you still have something to say - but with facts, please - I am all ears.

Posted by: Tatyana on January 28, 2004 11:48 AM

Timothy C:

"... this slave-economy of yours isn't ripped to shreds by overzealous immigration enforcement. It's kind of like the bacteria in your gut, working away helping you digest food. You don't realize it until you take penicillin for an ear-infection and have a side-effect of diarrhea. The USA really needs to embrace it's immigrants, not treat them like parasites."

Nice simile. I'll keep it in mind. As far as "embracing" goes, we have always embraced our immigrants, ever since the 1800s and Ellis Island. That "embrace" may have been more painful than comforting, but still, we brought them in, and encouraged them to assimilate - that is, become Americans. Now, they are us. And Chicago's rivers still run green on St Patrick's Day.

Our Hispanic immigrants have shown no desire to assimilate. Their barrios here reflect the barrios from which they fled. Fourth and fifth generation families still do not speak English. Certainly, that's not the majority. But the minority it represents is still too large.

Posted by: Mike on January 28, 2004 1:48 PM

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