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May 26, 2006

Whose Public Servants?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

The Senate has passed its ludicrous and destructive version of an immigration-reform bill -- another triumph for Teddy Kennedy. That's right: the very same Teddy Kennedy who spearheaded the disastrous 1965 immigration act that landed us in the pickle we're in now. Let us never forget the promises Teddy made back in '65:

"First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same ... Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset ... Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa and Asia ... In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think."

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. Whose interests does this man have at heart anyway?

One consequence of our approach to immigration that I'm particularly dreading is increased ethnic strife. When has a dramatic overhaul of a country's ethnic makeup ever proved to be a good idea? Whaddya know: It's happening already. Black Americans aren't thrilled by our daffy immigration policies either. And if you find it annoying to be asked whether you want to be spoken to in Spanish or English, brace yourself.

Steve Sailer assesses the damage.



UPDATE: John O'Sullivan reviews the ugly way this piece of legislation was crafted. Take-home quote:

The politics of this bill are not hard to read. It is being pushed by an alliance of Big Business (cheap labor), the Democrats (cheap votes), the immigration lawyers (more business), and the White House (economic illiteracy plus moral preening) against the opposition of most Republicans in both House and Senate -- and of most Americans.

But aren't all those new immigrants at least going to solve our Social Security crisis? Jerome Corsi points out that the Congressional Budget Office, having looked at the Senate's bill, predicts that it will make the Social Security challenges grow worse.

posted by Michael at May 26, 2006


I think everyone's hoping the House toughens the Senate's bill up---even Republicans in the Senate, the cowards.

Posted by: annette on May 26, 2006 1:33 PM

No, see, it all makes perfect sense in the big picture. You have to think of it not as immigration, but migration. South America moves up to North America and the U.S. Americans need to move up to Canada (which they're secretly doing on buses disguised as old people seeking cheap drugs). With the proposed threat of global warming, we should all start to move up to what will be uncovered new land as the glaciers melt. Anyone left down south will either fry or drown.

Posted by: susan on May 26, 2006 2:06 PM

I think we should all move to Mexico. Let the Mexicans come here and try to do as well as we did. It wouldn't take much effort for a hundred million Anglos to double the per capita GDP of Mexico. We could leave the liberals and environmentalists here. Then we could exploit all the Mexican oil in the Gulf. And we could make our own tequila and sell it to homesick Mexicans up in the Estados Unidos del Norte. I'd like to grow some maguey cacti in my garden.

Posted by: Robert Speirs on May 26, 2006 3:23 PM

You will let us know when the sky actually falls, right? We've been waiting for almost a hundred years.

Posted by: Questioner on May 26, 2006 4:18 PM

Questioner, I believe that the sky did fall for many Americans starting in the late Sixties.

Just checking the basic stats on things like Crime Rate, Murder Rate, Abortion Rate, Illegitimacy Rate, Rape Rate, etc.

Just thinking about the number of children who are murdered nowadays relative to the Bad Old days of the 1930's, during the Depression no less, is, well, depressing.

Think of how amazing the American City was in 1750, 1800, 1850, 1900, and 1950. Detroit, Chicago, Camden, Hartford, Baltimore, etc.

Parts of these cities now resemble de-militarized zones. Oh, another "Rate" stat, the Unemployment Rate in these cities. Especially the Unemployment Rate for young Black men.

So, consider yourself served.

You will let me know when you and your family move to Camden.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on May 26, 2006 5:46 PM

Annette - I'm admiring your dry sense of humor!

Susan -- Suddenly it does make sense.

Robert -- I'll bet the beachfront property down south is a lot cheaper than it is here too. Hmm: it's sounding better all the time.

Questioner -- Can I assume that you're thinking about the alarm that was heard about high immigration rates circa 1900? But that's a long time ago. Alarm wasn't heard much after the mid-'20s, because immigration rates were drastically reduced, which enabled the country to digest its massive intake from 1880-1920. It wasn't heard much during the '40s and '50s because immigration rates were quite low. Immigration rates didn't take off again -- and thus weren't much of a public issues -- until a decade or so after the 1965 immigration act, when its consequences really began to kick in. But even since then, concern about immigration has surfaced only rarely, because of PC anxieties and semi-censorship. Although concerns about immigration consistently turned up in polls as high on people's lists of worries, people were simply too scared of being labeled racists or bigots to talk about the subject in public. The kind of public fuss that's currently being heard has been quite a rare thing in the 20th century.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 26, 2006 5:54 PM

Crime, illegitimacy and other indices of social health started deteriorating in the early- to mid-1960s, when immigration was low. Crime rates have decreased since the 1980s, despite increased immigration, as the no-punishment policies of the 1960s and 1970s that encouraged crime were reversed and as the percentage of young men in the population decreased. (Britain is now replicating our experiment in abolishing punishment, with similar results.) Meanwhile US illegitimacy rates have increased greatly among non-immigrant whites and blacks. So why is immigration the obvious cause of this laundry list of social problems?

Posted by: Jonathan on May 26, 2006 8:18 PM

Many countries have many waves of immigration. And the bover boys are always waiting - "intellectual" or otherwise

Posted by: Simon on May 27, 2006 8:48 AM

While I'm no big fan of Ted Kennedy, you're essentially using him here are a silly boogey-man.

The reason we're in "the pickle we're in now" isn't the result of the Immigration Act of 1965. Removing natural origins limitations from the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, for example, has nothing to do with the massive influx of Hispanic *illegal* immigrants.

Essentially, your post is a classic example of straw man debate.

Posted by: cbanks on May 27, 2006 12:34 PM

Jonathan, I didnt mean to imply that immigration was the cause of most social problems. What I meant was that many people were saying that the sky was falling, figuratively, and that it did.

Questioner was implying that people were wrong to say the sky was falling in years past, I am saying that they were right.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on May 27, 2006 2:47 PM

Jonathan -- On the other hand, the '65 immigration act was part of the whole '60s era "we can afford anything" big-government movement. And, fwiw, Hispanics have a crime (or at least incarceration) rate 3.2 times higher than whites ...

Simon -- I don't know what "bover" means. In any case, if your point is that immigration waves do happen, well, sure. They also tend to come to natural ends. Countries tend to find that they can ingest only so many newcomers, then they have to push away from the table and allow digestion to take place. Most big waves of immigration into America have lasted circa 40-50 years. Let's see ... 2006 minus 1965 ... Yup, the big one we're experiencing has been going on for just about that long ...

Cbanks -- Not sure I understand your argument. TKennedy hasn't played an important (and malicious, but that's my opinion) role in shaping American immigration policy, is that what you're saying? If so, that's a new one on me. What makes you say so?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 27, 2006 3:40 PM

A shift of real power, as Dennis Dale has recently discussed on his blog, is probably the main reason that tens of millions of immigration restrictionists are feeling frustration almost beyond endurance. They are Great War cavalry regiments charging machine guns.

Most of them still fondly imagine that if they collect enough signatures on petitions or send enough letters and faxes to their representatives in Congress, the scales will fall from the lawmakers' eyes and they'll change their votes. That's to completely misunderstand how the system works nowadays, in contrast to how the textbooks say it works or what may have been mostly true in the past.

Of the three real branches of governance that Dennis Dale notes (corporate, media, and political), the old political class is a trailing indicator. It follows the corporate and media branches. The first defines the favored policy and the second sets the terms of public debate in a way that supports it. Legislators, although technically still responsible for regulation, can at most dissent from the conventional wisdom that the corporations and media have constructed. And most of your men and women in Washington understand that there's no future for them in that.

The political branch is further hobbled because it actually needs to be subdivided into the judicial sub-branch and the representative sub-branch, with the judicial sub-branch now having the power and the will to trump any act of the people's representatives that they don't like, with no one to say them nay other than a higher judicial authority.

Finally, you've got one more huge stakeholder: the government bureaucracy -- huge, opaque to outsiders, operating according to its own values and a palimpsest of complicated regulations applied on top of one another for generations, taking on a life of their own. The bureaucracy, as so many have pointed out to so little effect, exists not to fix problems but to manage them until the end of time. And it grows like kudzu, providing ever more managerial positions for up-and-coming gray suits.

Any serious member of The Resistance is going to have to come to terms with the true flow chart of power, not concentrate on legislators whose position is now mainly ceremonial. There are pressure points where at least some of the real power centers are vulnerable. Corporations in particular are easily panicked by claims that they have "offended" some group and by credible threats to their profit margins.

Posted by: r on May 27, 2006 4:54 PM

Ian: OK. I assumed you were referring to immigration.

MB: 1) I think "bover boys" means thugs in English usage. 2) My point was that the '60s social pathologies correlate best with policies that were not related to immigration. Sure, all of those policies were instituted around the same time, but so what? Civil-rights reforms were also instituted then, and I don't think anyone attributes crime to them. As for Hispanics having a higher rate of incarceration than white Anglos, I think it's important to ask which Hispanics are causing problems. I don't think immigration per se is the issue there -- IOW, I assume that a lot of the crimes are committed by gangsters and other professional criminals who would not be allowed to come here legally under even the most generous immigration regime. Why not just start consistently deporting criminal immigrants? We don't do that now.

Posted by: Jonathan on May 27, 2006 6:13 PM

I see no way out of this. We've been softened up during the past 40 years and now the multicultural onslaught is beginning in earnest. I think it's too late. We can try to resist physically, but the country's internal security forces are in the hands of persons inimical to the desires of whites. Someone tell me I am being pessimistic.

Posted by: Xenophon on May 28, 2006 9:29 AM

Michael, to be frank, in a discussion of contemporary immigration policy Ted Kennedy isn't even a footnote.

Your quote of him going back to 1965 has no application today. None. Zero. Zilch. The entire quote makes great sense in the context of the Immigration Act of 1965. It can't be dragged to 2006 so we can say "ah-ha!" let's apply it to the immigration debate in Congress in 2006.

Republicans have a firm grasp on Congress and are in power in the White House. Pointing the finger at Democrats is a cop-out. If you're going to complain about old Teddy then complain about the *majority* of Republicans in the Senate who just passed a bill in the Senate that makes him happy.

Posted by: cbanks on May 29, 2006 8:03 PM

R -- I'm buyin' your argument (and Dennis Dale's) just about all the way.

Jonathan -- I was afraid that would be what "bover boys" means, darn it ... FWIW, I think you and I start from two different places where immigration policy is concerned. I could be wrong, but I'm gathering that you start with high levels and and ask, why not? I start with nothing and wonder why we should have any at all.

Xenophon -- OK, you're being pessimistic. But so am I.

Cbanks -- I'm completely puzzled as to why you think Teddy Kennedy is a minor player where American immigration policy is concerned. He played a big role in '65, which is the basic framework we're stuck with today, and he pushed through the current Senate bill. Despite having sold us lousy legislation in '65, he has done again. Seems like reason enough to mock him to me. But whatever. Anyway: happy to diss the Repubs who backed the bill too. Why wouldn't I be?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 29, 2006 11:31 PM


Democrats voted for the Senate immigration bill 39-4 (counting Independent Jim Jeffords as a Democrat). Republicans opposed it 23-32. Teddy Kennedy's interest in this bill is the same as it's always been: at the end of the day, it's clear the Dems are pretty sure (and with good reason)that incoming Mexicans will largely vote their way. Many years ago I named this the: If you can't summon up a domestic majority, import one strategy, and I still think this description is apt.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on May 30, 2006 12:30 AM

We're going to have to agree to disagree here.

Coming from Houston, Texas, my perspective seems a lot different from your own.

I deal on a daily basis with undocumented workers. Many of them are college-educated. Several are friends--actually, very close friends. The ones I know are economic migrants--and extremely ethical law-abiding ones.

One friend is a Chinese woman with an MBA. She came here on a legitimate work visa, but it turned out to be a criminal operation (which she didn't discover until she arrived). Then she worked for a real estate company which promised to do her paperwork --and then failed to.

But did she decide to leave? No. Instead, she tried to find under-the-table work while trying to find someone to sponsor her H1B visa. In the meantime she pays taxes, bills, etc

I've ended up giving lots of unsolicited advice to such people. Like, why don't you go home first and then conduct your job search? Or how you stand a living situation where you are essentially stripped of civil rights? Or how can you stand living with such uncertainty? My arguments fall on deaf ears. Most of these people I've dealt with seem to feel that if they do undocumented work for a short period of time, eventually they can find a company that will legitimately sponsor them.

The Senate compromise would essentially give incentives for people like this MBA friend of mine to go legit. She would LOVE to go legit. Because she's been here 3 1/2 years (1 1/2 years legitimately), she would probably receive guest worker status, and would merely have to return home temporarily to receive her guest worker card. I honestly feel that the Senate incentives would really tempt her. Under the status quo however, she's going to stay.

The key is providing real-time work eligibility. All you have to do is toughen up the I-9 form with a computer database check to verify green card/ssn card. It's really easy to do in this internet age. but big companies have offered at best lukewarm support for the extra paperwork. I'd happily favor stricter verification of employment even if corporations don't like it. In fact, you can make the argument that limited "path to citizenship" can be sufficient inducements to keep immigrants from revolting at stricter employment eligibility.

You said: "One consequence of our approach to immigration that I'm particularly dreading is increased ethnic strife." Although there are honest critics of immigration reform, I've never noticed so much bigotry as when talk of immigration reform has started. I believe that the political debate is stoking this strife, not reform itself. Once a policy is adopted, all this will settle down.

BTW, regardless of the outcome, I think the immigration issue is a major reason the Republican party will decline. Republicans simply don't want liberalization of immigration policy. Period. That makes it virtually impossible to receive support from ethnic communities (most notably the Hispanic communities). I actually wouldn't mind having the Republicans piss off a lot of Hispanics and Asian voters.

finally, why are you invoking Ted Kennedy here? This sort of guilt-by-association sounds like a Republican attack ad.

One problem with guest worker programs is that the worker is essentially hostage to the company and is still ripe for exploitation. However, if it were easier to transfer guest worker status among different companies, we wouldn't have that kind of problem. Right now, if placed in an unacceptable work situation (like my friend with the MBA), the only legal alternative is to quit and return home. However, if my friend had 90 days to apply to other guest worker programs once she left her original company, that would reduce the incentive to abandon the immigration system altogether.

Posted by: Robert Nagle on May 30, 2006 4:21 AM

Dems are in the driver's seat on immigration. Of course, more immigrants will vote their way. And yet, the left is the driving force behind restrictive immigration policies to begin with: the obscenity of select Americans making upwards of $25/hr for slightly skilled labor due to restriction of its supply, well, that's the third rail on the immigration issue.

Posted by: J. Goard on May 30, 2006 4:31 AM

MB: Yes, I think mass immigration is generally good for the country as long as immigrants learn English and assimilate into our civic culture, as they have done successfully in the past.

Posted by: Jonathan on May 30, 2006 6:55 AM

My true, underlying question about Mexican illegal immigration is this:

By importing roughly 10-15% of our population from Latin American countries with longstanding social dysfunctions, are we importing the same social dysfuctions?

Posted by: jult52 on May 30, 2006 8:10 AM

Mr. Nagle:

You say:

I deal on a daily basis with undocumented workers. Many of them are college-educated. Several are friends--actually, very close friends. The ones I know are economic migrants--and extremely ethical law-abiding ones.

Living in Southern California, I, too have had many, many relationships with illegal immigrants. My opposition to the Senate bill is not based on any personal animus. However, if you establish that being an economic migrant is sufficient (morally and practically) to override all immigration restrictions, then how many economic migrants do you expect to see arrive in the U.S. over the next 20 years or so? 50 million? 100 million? 200 million? 500 million? There are literally billions of people in the world who would love to have the economic opportunities that come with U.S. residency. Are you proposing to let them all in? If not, why does your friend rate?

One friend is a Chinese woman with an MBA. If our policy was, in a measured way, to open the immigration gates to highly educated, intelligent immigrants, you wouldn't get much opposition from me. (Although I would note that many of the arguments of the high tech industry for letting in more foreigners with technical educations is actually remarkably similar to the arguments for immigration offered by the fast food industry: we can't find Americans to do this work at the price such businesses wish to pay. If you offered Americans higher wages to be busboys or software engineers, I'll bet you won't find such labor shortages, but perhaps that's an argument for another day.) But the immigration 'issue' which you, like many others, seem to want to dismiss as some kind of racist xenophopbia, is caused mostly by geography. To wit: the U.S. is the only developed economy in the world that shares a lengthy land border with a Third World nation, and our problem is that this Third World nation is dumping its least-educated surplus population on us (in order to preserve its own ugly status quo). This population is simply not much of an economic advantage to the American economy, despite the phony rhetoric that our prosperity would collapse if deprived of our minimum wage labor pool. I simply don't see why the USA doesn't have the right to resist this human dumping, especially since it is conducted by a ruling elite that has the most contemptible values and motives.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on May 30, 2006 10:34 AM

Robert -- I think we don't differ on the essential thing: I think we both wish everyone (a few sociopaths aside) well. May we all flourish. I think we differ in terms of how this translates into a specific country's (ours) immigration policy. You seem to feel that a pretty porous border makes a lot of sense, and you make some good points. I think the world (and we) would be better off if we ran a stricter regime, and I hope I make some decent points too.

The one card I like to think I hold up my sleeve is the your-fellow-Americans card. 60-80% of Americans don't like our immigration policies and worry about the cultural impacts of virtually uncontrolled Mexican immigration; a significant number of them think that immigration ought to be shut off entirely.

Given this, and given that nothing practical necessitates a porous-border policy (we're rich anyway, and will go on being rich even if no more immigrants ever enter the country), I find it impossible not to conclude that our policy ought to reflect the preferences of the country's big majority.

I also find it impossible to imagine why the preferences of a big majority in this case ought to be overridden (overrode?). Based on what? The moral question is six of one and a half dozen of another, it seems to me. The argument can be made that we ought, we simply ought, to let any Mexican in who wants to come in. But an argument can also plausibly be made that doing so simply perpetuates bad conditions in Mexico -- and that Mexico would (after a few years of pouting) would start to get its act together and serve its population better if it understood it can't simply unload surplus poor people on us.

But I really think getting hung up on the moral arguments (not that you're doing so) is childish. It's pretty clear what the forces behind our current policies are: Dems who want votes and Repubs (or businesspeople) who want ever-cheaper labor. It isn't a Dem-vs-Repub issue (which, btw, is partly why I keep returning to it as an issue -- it's interesting that it isn't Dems-vs-Repubs). It's a real-Americans-vs-our-elites issue.

I pick on Teddy Kennedy not out of any anti-Dem animus but because he's unique in recent-immigration-policy-history terms. He was out front in passing the '65 act, which has gotten us into this mess (and he lied or at the least was extremely stupid about its eventual impact), and now 40 yeers later he's out there in front once again, championing a bill that would lead to consequences very few Americans want: gigantic population increases and massive ethnic re-jiggerings. Yet he's posturing and bellowing as if it's all the right thing to do. Why fall for this act? The man's got a lot to answer to his fellow Americans for. The Repubs who are craven or dishonest (or whatever) on the issue deserve spankings too, of course, but where the political history of immigration policy goes, none of them have been as out-there (or as long-lastingly awful) as Teddy.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 30, 2006 11:47 AM

Yeah. Chinese workers with MBA's who pay taxes and follow all the laws. Except the immigration ones. Yeah, that's the typical illegal alien. We can all rest easy now. What a bunch of self-serving claptrap.

Hey, I'm an undocumented lawyer. I practice law, but I just don't have the documentation. I'm also an undocumented doctor, broker--you name it. I also get to pay zero taxes, because I have 100% tax exemption. Its just undocumented. Same with my income. I would LOVE to go legit, if only they would make my illegal activity legal! What, me change my own behavior to follow the law? Are you crazy? I'll just hire a lawyer!

We should make all illegal activity legal. Then all the people we like wouldn't be likable criminals. Just likable. How sweet.

And yes, we assimilate people here so well. Just look at our american indian and large black populations. For the most part, they both live on reservations and are dependent on some sort of wealth transfer from whites (if it weren't for gaming, I'm not sure american indians would have anything). We even have to give them illegal race quota jobs to give the APPEARANCE of some sort of assimilation and equality. Its all a sham though. And it still doesn't work. It sucking us all dry, and it still doesn't work. And, hey look! Here comes tens of millions or more unassimilatable minorities! More ghettoes, er, barrios! More race quota jobs! Let's all just put on a happy face instead of dealing with the reality of what we know will happen through experience! The assimilation you speak of only happens when the minority is tiny and rather well educated. Not so for the great mass. And yes we are getting Mexico's best and brightest. They just work at fast food restaurants until their PhD theses in particle physics get approved. God, there is such deceit and denial in this debate!

The House will kill it for the '06 election. Then the politicians will try to pass a compromise in '07. Bank on it.

Posted by: Name on May 30, 2006 12:43 PM

I have a lot to say on this topic, but let me start by this:

--Immigrants are not stupid--

All of them want to learn English and most succeed in doing so, despite coming here as adults. And their U.S. born children (99.9999%) learn English. They know it is key for getting ahead in this country.

Yes, they speak their native language amongst themselves and try to teach it to their children. Wouldn't you do the same in their place?

Native-born Americans are virtually alone in this world in regarding knowing foreign languages as something akin to treachery. Which is totally, completely insane. (And goes a long way in explaining why Americans are held in poor regard in the world).

As an aside, as a foreigner living in this country (legally, if you must ask), I face a constant struggle to keep my kids fluent in their (and my) native tongue. For them, speaking English is easier and more natural given that all their friends speak it (yes, even those kids from our own ethnic background).

The insecurity manifested by Americans --like those who want to declare English the official language--is as disturbing as it is laughable.

Why disturbing? Well, given all I've said above, fears of unassimilated immigrants are totally groundless. So I can only speculate that this insecurity is a realtively easy way to vent racist tendencies which can't be expressed openly.

And it is laughable. Go to any large Third World city and you'll be struck by huge number of public advertisements for English (and computer) lessons. Everybody wants to learn English because it pays to do so in today's globalized economy.

Sorry for going on so long about this, but I must vent by despair somehow.

Posted by: Andrew on May 30, 2006 3:29 PM

"And it is laughable. Go to any large Third World city and you'll be struck by huge number of public advertisements for English (and computer) lessons. Everybody wants to learn English because it pays to do so in today's globalized economy."

Yeah. I live in Costa Rica and see those ads all the time in the capital city, San Jose. Every time I go downtown I receive half a dozen handbills advertising English lessons. But somehow the number of even young people who can speak passable English is rather small.

But it is a mistake to fixate on language; there is more to culture than that. For example, I'll bet that most of the members of the Arab and African mobs that recently rioted throughout France-for a seemingly interminable period- had French as their first language.

Posted by: perroazul del norte on May 30, 2006 9:07 PM

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