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John Derbyshire on Immigration and the Racist Obama Administration

Joyous commentary from the prodigious pessimist Mr. Derbyshire:

Immigration 101. Look: Here’s the immigration issue in a nutshell. Let X be the number of people we — we, the people, as expressed through our democratic procedures — are willing to accept for settlement in this and the next few years. That’s X: the number of people we are willing to give settlement visas to. Now let Y be the number of people, from among the seven billion currently alive on this planet, who wish to come and settle here. Y want to come settle; we’re willing to take in X.

Let’s assume that Y is greater than X — which, in the case of the U.S.A., it certainly is, by a couple of orders of magnitude. The two questions our immigration policy has to answer are, one, what is the value of X? and two, assuming X is greater than zero, how do we select the smaller number, X, from the larger number, Y? That’s it. That’s all there is to immigration policy in the large. The rest is details and fine-tuning. That’s legal immigration, of course. Illegal immigration is a law-enforcement issue. Illegal residents just have to be identified and deported. Fuel up those half million school buses!

There is actually a case for deciding that X, the number of people we should accept for settlement, is zero. Do you actually feel that the U.S.A. is under-populated right now? Maybe I’m swayed somewhat on this — I have to drive the Long Island Expressway. We don’t have to accept anyone for settlement if we don’t want to. The nation belongs to us, its citizens. And certainly when unemployment is at ten percent, the case for zero immigration looks pretty good. Why would we take in new people for settlement when our own citizens can’t find work?

If we collectively decide that we do want to take in immigrants, even in a recession, then discussion moves to the second of my two questions: How do we select the smaller number, X, from the larger number, Y? Say the number of people wishing to come settle in the U.S.A., worldwide, is a hundred million a year — one in seventy of the world’s population. I should think that is likely an under-estimate, but let’s suppose. And let’s further suppose that we have decided to let in a million a year for settlement. How do we pick the million from the hundred million? How do we decide who’s the lucky one, and who are the unlucky ninety-nine?

I’d guess that most Americans, if you asked them this question, would favor some kind of points system. So many points for education and work skills, so many for English fluency, so many for demonstrated talents in art, sport, or music; then negative points taken off for anything suggesting a burden on our public fisc — health problems, criminal record, old age, number of dependents, and so on.

There you are: I just worked out a rational immigration system. Do you think this is anything at all like what Barack Obama has in mind when he talks about “comprehensive immigration reform”? [Laughter]

Once you decide to let people settle in your country, everything else is a matter of human capital, which does matter. The president even said so in his speech — all those tributes to immigrant entrepreneurs and scientists. This is the hardest point for politicians to talk about honestly, though, since our current state ideology pretends that everyone is an Einstein — that people and nations don’t differ at all in their human capital. This is idiotic of course, and nobody really believes it. The Institute of Advanced Study isn’t going to hire me to do nuclear physics research. For some reason, though, we’ve all decided that we should pretend to believe it.

Consider the city of Maywood, California, which Radio Derb reported on last week. This is the city that laid off all its employees, disbanded its police and fire departments, and so on, because insurance companies wouldn’t write the city any policies. Why not? Because the city was hopelessly corrupt and mis-managed. Maywood is 96 percent Hispanic. This being southern California, that means Mexican. Do you think, does even Barack Obama think, that Maywood would be in the trouble it’s in if it was 96 percent Indian software engineers, 96 percent Scottish Presbyterians, 96 percent Jewish Russians, or 96 percent Chinese entrepreneurs? Human capital matters. It matters. If you pretend it doesn’t matter, you end up with … well, Maywood.

I also like how he dispels the whole “nation of immigrants” thing:

“Nation of immigrants”? No we’re not. The original settlers were just moving from one part of British or Dutch territory to another part. That’s not immigration. If there had been no further inflows whatsoever since the founding of the Republic, natural increase alone would have given the U.S.A. a population almost half what it actually was by 1992, the date that demographer Campbell Gibson carried out the computation. So “nation of immigrants” is at best a half truth — kind of an insulting one for the other half of America, the ones who would have been here anyway.

Furthermore, immigration has always been a stop and go affair. For the quarter-century of the Napoleonic Wars, immigration into America practically ceased. It didn’t really pick up until the 1840s. It peaked in the early 1850s, then dropped off during the Civil War. It picked up in the early 1880s, leading into the Great Wave that ended in the 1920s. Then there was a great lull until the late 1960s, a forty-year lull with very low levels.

If you pick out particular regions, the “nation of immigrants” cliché looks even sillier. New England had almost no incoming population for two hundred years, from the 1640s to the 1840s. “Nation of immigrants”? Pah! Lots of us are immigrants, and even more of us have parents or grandparents who are immigrants, but that doesn’t make us a nation of immigrants; it only makes us a nation with immigrants.

And Barack Obama’s assertion that, quote: “We’ve always defined ourselves as a nation of immigrants,” is just false. No we haven’t. The phrase “nation of immigrants” was thought up by John F. Kennedy in 1958. To my knowledge, nobody in the previous 180 years of the republic’s existence ever uttered that phrase. It certainly wasn’t commonplace. Funny use of the word “always” there, Mr. President.

He also skewers Obama and Holder as the whiney racists that they are.  With liberty and justice for some.

Black Panther case. Well knock me down with a feather! It turns out that Eric Holder’s Justice Department doesn’t think that civil rights and voting rights laws should be enforced on behalf of white people. Civil rights and voting rights are only for black people. That’s according to J. Christian Adams, the former Justice Department attorney who quit his job to protest the administration’s handling of the voter intimidation case in Philadephia, where Black Panthers in full dress uniform and carrying nightsticks stood at the entrance to a polling place snarling at white voters.

For goodness’ sake, is anyone surprised at this? Barack Obama and Eric Holder are leftist black Americans with enormous chips on their shoulders about race. Obama’s autobiography is full of racial whining. It’s even there in the title: “A story of race and inheritance.” Obama simply couldn’t forgive all those pleasant, middle-class white people he grew up amongst for giving him such a pleasant, middle-class upbringing and education. Same with Holder, who grew up in New York City of the 1950s and 1960s, a city run by white liberals like Robert Wagner and John Lindsay, determined to give smart black kids every possible break in life. Hence Eric Holder’s career: Stuyvesant High School, Columbia University, and easy access to plum lawyering jobs. These guys hate white America for being so damn nice to them.

Human nature’s a funny thing. When black Americans really were cruelly oppressed they produced moral giants like Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. Once the cruelty ended and America at large started bending over backwards to make amends for it, we began turning out spiteful, whining creeps like Obama and Holder.

We’ll put up with them, of course. We feel we have to. It all comes under the heading of the Slavery Tax, which the U.S.A. will be paying for ever.

  1. Allen Weingarten
    July 5, 2010 at 8:36 am

    John Derbyshire writes a fine article, as he generally does, so I cannot think of anything to add. It can however be summarized as: the purpose of our immigration policy should be to develop America, rather than to be helpful to those who choose to come here.

  2. July 5, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    I disagree with a lot of this. If immigrants dragged down the economy, Israel would be an incredibly poor nation, as so much of their population is due to immigration. Also, America never suffered from immigration during the periods in which immigration was so prevalent. Immigrants can only hurt a country if they are allowed to suck at the government teat, which right now many illegals are. In a free economy, there would be the immigrants who started businesses as well as the immingrants who sought employment at them, this potential to cause jobs is often ignored by those who say immigrants steal jobs from us.

    My position on immigration is basically in line with the official Objectivist position, and with Milton Friedman’s statement that you cannot have welfare and high levels of immigration at the same time. Get control of the borders, kill welfare for at least the non-citizens (though I think welfare is immoral no matter who gets it), and then streamline the application process so that anyone who simply wants to live and work here and become American, you can let in. When the vast majority of people who simply want to come here to be American can easily get in the front door, anyone who tries to come illegally will not garner any sympathy and can be dealt with appropriately. The only people the government has a duty to refuse entry to are people with serious diseases, criminals, and those who come here for reasons of subversion (whether ideological or physical).

    • Andrew Mellon
      July 6, 2010 at 12:12 am

      Of course if you scrapped the welfare state this would go a long way towards ridding the country of immigrants sucking at the government teat legal and illegal. Derbyshire would likely agree with that.

      But what is more important in my view is the question of who immigrates and why they immigrate here. In our multicultural post-modern world, nobody wants to grapple with questioning what kind of people ethnically, religiously, intellectually, culturally, etc we should let into our country, and in what numbers. To have such a conversation would make even the most libertarian people cringe. Authors like Charles Murray who touch on such topics are vilified.

      Further, when you talk about people who want to live and work here and “become American,” there are plenty of immigrants that fail to assimilate. How are we to deal with this? Past rounds of immigration did not suffer from such defects of a society that won’t even make English its official language. Also, how are you to know who is coming here to subvert the country and who isn’t? Why is there a preconception that people have a right to immigrate to America just because they like it?

      Of course I agree that those who want to come here and fully become “American,” dedicated to traditional American values and becoming a part of our society should have a path to citizenship, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be HIGHLY selective, and it doesn’t mean that anyone who likes baseball and apple pie should be able to become a citizen. When you say “The only people the government has a duty to refuse entry…” I simply cannot agree with this sentiment.

      In sum, I want the best and the brightest who love the classical ideals of this country to become citizens if they take on the full responsibilities of citizenship, but there is no fundamental right to citizenship for just anyone.

      • July 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm

        “Further, when you talk about people who want to live and work here and “become American,” there are plenty of immigrants that fail to assimilate. How are we to deal with this?”

        Christopher Caldwell points out in his book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe” that just because we don’t have much official pressure on immigrants to assimilate, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Such pressure is usually more effective when made by society and economic forces anyway than it is when made by government or politics. As Caldwell pointed out, “In the US, you are free to keep your cultural traditions, but if they are traditions which keep you from speaking English properly, or showing up to work on time, first you go hungry. Then you go home. No one will miss you.”

        I also agree we should make English our official language. It would be a big help.

        “Also, how are you to know who is coming here to subvert the country and who isn’t?”

        I agree that we should screen for this, and that the subject is both tricky and touchy as hell.

        “Why is there a preconception that people have a right to immigrate to America just because they like it?”

        It’s not because they have a RIGHT to come. I agree that no immigrant has a right to citizenship. It’s because I believe that a liberal immigration policy is far more in line with a policy of free trade than a highly restrictive one, that immigrants help a country economically as opposed to hinder it, and that open borders are much less conducive to tyranny than restrictive ones.

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