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A Profound Question Behind the Immigration Debate

Behind the sturm und drang that greeted President Trump’s recent executive action on refugees lies the broader issue of U.S. immigration policies over the past half-century. And behind those immigration policies lies a profound question facing Americans: what kind of country do they want their country to be?

For most of our history, we have been largely a country of Europeans, a country of the West, with Western sensibilities and a shared devotion to the Western heritage. Now we are in the process of becoming something else—a mixed country without a coherent, guiding heritage of any civilization and certainly not of the West.

This is largely the result both of the numbers of immigrants coming into the country (both legal and illegal) and of the place of origin of most of those immigrants. In 1960, 84 percent of U.S. immigrants came from Europe and Canada; now that number is just 14 percent. Also, the percentage of people in America who were born outside the United States reached 13.7 percent in 2015—just a shade below the all-time high for that statistic, which was 14.8 percent in 1890, after a similar wave of immigrants largely from Central and Eastern Europe.

What’s more, experts expect that percentage to climb to 14.9 percent by 2015 and 18 percent by 2065. In 1965, when the country’s current immigration philosophy was enacted into law, the percentage of foreign-born people in the country was 5 percent. According to the Pew Research Center, by 2055 the United States will have no ethno-racial majority. When that happens, America will be a completely different country from what it was, say, when the Baby Boomers appeared on the scene and throughout American history before that.

This is a profound national alteration, and what’s remarkable about it is how little debate, or even discussion, has attended it until recently. The American left and most of the country’s elites considered it a natural and beneficial development, a testament to the value of diversity and a shared aversion to discriminatory practice or even discriminatory thinking. Any suggestion that this sweeping change in the makeup of the American population could be ultimately detrimental was considered an assault on the country’s core values and hence our foundations. That tended to stifle dissent. And, if wary critics got too uppity, there was always the allegation of racism to shut them up.

Then came Donald Trump, whose crude pronouncements on immigration heralded that this was one politician who wasn’t going to be silenced or intimidated on the issue. Whereas the nation’s political class had settled upon a strategy of finessing the issue of the 11 million or so illegal immigrants in the country, which meant keeping it out of the presidential campaign so it could be handled later in a more manageable legislative setting, Trump forced the issue to the forefront by saying they should all leave the country.

They won’t, but Trump likely will succeed in deporting criminal elements within that number and in diminishing the inflow of illegal immigrants significantly. The issue has been joined, and it will be decided in the political arena, in full view and in full cry. It won’t be finessed by a stealthy Congress.

It’s in that context that we should view the emotional political byplay unleashed by Trump’s executive order that temporarily banned travel into the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, suspended refugee admissions for four months, and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely. The issue is being joined largely as a security issue, and in large measure it is. But the arguments, pro and con, that greeted the president’s action are essentially the same arguments that will attend the broader immigration issue as it unfolds.

Opponents view the action as illegal and unconstitutional, but also fall back inevitably to the argument that these discriminatory policies undermine the country’s core values and foundations. “This is not who we are,” as Obama put it repeatedly during his tenure as president. The idea of constrictions on the inflow of refugees or immigrants grates on these people.

Defenders of the Trump action, meanwhile, argue that nobody outside the United States has any rights with regard to entering the United States, and hence discriminatory actions in letting people in, or not, have nothing to do with American values. They believe also that the U.S. government and American people have every right to determine what inflows and what restrictions on inflows they want to accept or deny—for whatever reason but particularly for security reasons.

After all, U.S. refugee policy has fluctuated significantly over time, with numbers in excess of 110,000 in some years and as little as 27,000 in others (particularly following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on American soil). President Obama sought to get that number up to near its apogee in 2017, but Trump wants to cut it to 50,000. How, Trump’s defenders ask, does that undermine American values any more than they were undermined when the refugee number was 27,000?

And so we see that ultimately this debate—whether focused on refugees or the broader immigration issue—is about numbers. Anti-Trump liberals want more immigrants, particularly if they are not Europeans. They want that percentage number on foreign-born Americans to go up, beyond the 2015 number of 13.7 percent, beyond the 1890 record of 14.8 percent, and shooting for the projected 18 percent. The day that there is no longer a European majority in America is welcomed by them—the sooner, the better.

Trump supporters want fewer immigrants to allow the country to better absorb that current 13.7 percent of foreign-born Americans, to allow for some debate about the implications of current immigration policy, and to preserve the country’s ties to the Western heritage.

This is a debate about the definition of America, and definitional debates are not easily adjudicated. The emotions unleashed by Trump’s recent executive action are just the beginning.

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington, D.C., journalist and publishing executive, is editor of The American Conservative. His next book, due out from Simon & Schuster in September, is a biography of William McKinley.

87 Comments (Open | Close)

87 Comments To "A Profound Question Behind the Immigration Debate"

#1 Comment By Jason Segedy On February 7, 2017 @ 5:44 pm

The United States is extremely good at turning newcomers into secular, individualistic materialists and consumers.

There are rational reasons to question the efficacy of our existing immigration policy. “The loss of our culture” is not one of them.

We change the immigrants far more than they change us. Often for the worse.

The weakening of the American family, the loss of community, the worship of individual autonomy at all costs, our rampant materialism and consumerism, the loss of tradition – immigrants aren’t to blame for any of these things. We did them to ourselves.

#2 Comment By Demographer On February 7, 2017 @ 6:40 pm

“You might also point to some immigrants taking jobs from some Americans, but immigrants create more companies than non-immigrants in the US and create jobs for Americans (of all colors). It isn’t the fault of immigrants if Americans can’t compete.”
The claim that immigrants create “more companies” is misleading at best. Current US Census and other data actually show that immigrants and natives are EQUALLY likely to run their own business and equally likely to be self-employed, so natives and immigrants are EQUALLY entrepeneurial.

[1]

If Americans “can’t compete” why are there any cases of Americans training any H1B visa holders at all? Those American workers are clearly more skilled than their trainees.

Moreover, American-headed households use less means-tested welfare overall than either legal and unauthorized immigrants. Only South Asian and European immigrant households use less welfare than native households, but this is overwhelmed by the fact that African and Western Hemisphere immigrants use welfare at higher rates, with Mexican and Central Americans using welfare at much higher rates than both natives and other immigrants.

#3 Comment By EliteCommInc. On February 7, 2017 @ 7:58 pm

“It has ALWAYS been the essential element of immigration, even in the case of slavery, ironic as it is, that immigration is for the benefit of the United States, NOT for the benefit of the immigrant. And we are going to return to the European model, because it IS what is right for America and Americans.”

Ok I’ll bite. Trying to formulate slavery as an immigration issue would be incorrect.

And it is incorrect on multiple levels. What makes the suggestion ludicrous is that ‘free blacks’ did nearly everything, they could to assimilate into the “American” way of life, but were denied. The path of blacks is the perfect foil to advance of a loose immigration policy.

By the measure of blacks to the cause of assimilation, every other group fails. And I do mean every other group. Because until it was clear that whites of every ethnicity would use whatever means available to keep them out — “black nationalism” did not exist.

I would challenge the the suggestion that immigration was intended only as benefit for the US. Those who arrived expected and the US delivered eventually a positive quid pro quo.

Not a single black to my knowledge is registered through Ellis Island. They arrive here as either early explorers in the southwest before there were colonies or as servants/slaves to explorers. And have been here ever since.

#4 Comment By Rossbach On February 7, 2017 @ 8:48 pm

“The right to migrate clearly falls into the realm of individual liberty.”

No one has any legal right to immigrate to the US. This is OUR country. We decide who comes here and how many, and we may select any admission criteria we please.

#5 Comment By Rossbach On February 7, 2017 @ 8:54 pm

“Your fearful reaction against change is, frankly, based purely in a fear of what a non-white America will look like.”

Americans already know what a non-white America looks like. They see it every time they visit a city of any size. That is why they fear it; and that fear is entirely justified.

#6 Comment By Sketchy Wisdom On February 7, 2017 @ 9:00 pm

It’s the Twenty-First century, White Grievance Warriors. The world has become too small a place for provincialism. Why don’t you jump in your Buick, drive down to the club, down a few vodka gimlets served by a person of color who knows his place.

Or binge-watch Mad Men, light up some Luckies and reminisce.

#7 Comment By Arthur Sido On February 7, 2017 @ 9:26 pm

As usual the comments provide some of the best content, setting aside the obligatory cries from some of “white nationalism!”. This really is an identity question and a numbers game. Who do we want to be and who will decide who we will be? It can be argued, and I would, that some of us are rapidly seeking to supplant what makes America a place so many want to come to in the first place. I am glad to see some at AmCon starting to ask these questions and be open to uncomfortable conversations because pretending that this is not happening is only helping those who benefit economically and politically from a changing America.

#8 Comment By moratoria On February 7, 2017 @ 9:37 pm

“My only problem is with the appearance of a religious or ideological test, because that is so difficult to devise and implement in any meaningful way. My family is Muslim, but we practice a very easy going Sufi-inspired faith that teaches us to love everyone, care for our neighbors, respect other people’s beliefs and lifestyles, and contribute to solving the world’s problems. How does one determine what’s in the heart of an immigrant?”

You’re spot on. The problem isn’t Muslim immigration per se. It’s immigration in general. Your family is here legally and assimilated. You’re part of “us” now. But “we” need to stop taking in new immigrants. Far too many are already here and we urgently need to help our own – native and foreign born Americans badly hit by stagnant wages, the feeble post-financial collapse economy, record long-term unemployment, steady hemorrhaging of tax money into the ongoing and apparently endless wars and interventions, and increasingly vicious competition for work and other goods both inside the US and with other countries.

#9 Comment By john On February 7, 2017 @ 9:56 pm

Get some perspective we have always hated immigrants. We hated the Italians, we hated the Irish, we hate the Mexicans, the Chinese and on and on.

The immigrant is always foreign worships the wrong god, smells funny or some damm thing. This is no different although a lot of effort will be put into making you believe that in fact “this time is different” .

Wasn’t Andy Grove founder of Intel a refugee?

#10 Comment By TR On February 7, 2017 @ 9:57 pm

I taught second-generation Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, and Indian undergraduates for years–and they all seemed perfectly acculturated to me. Since they almost always had connections with professional or merchant classes in the home countries (or so it seemed) I wouldn’t even be surprised if some of them turned out to be Republicans.

But then, I confess I want a “diverse” America because that is all I’ve had in the forty years I’ve lived in central Florida.
(That does not mean I want illegals stealing American jobs, however. I’m not a Republican after all, and certainly not that kind.)

#11 Comment By Craig On February 7, 2017 @ 10:03 pm

I agree with several other commenters. Hispanics represent a large part of the demographic change that has happened. Hispanic generally refers to people of Spanish ancestry. Last time I looked, Spain was part of Europe. The Spanish just tended to explore and settle the Southern portion of the new world. Seems like an obvious miss.

#12 Comment By M. Orban On February 7, 2017 @ 10:08 pm

@American Maple
“The elites” can take their business elsewhere, like to Canada, to Singapore, Bangalore… can’t they? I mean it is not etched in stone that software has to be coded in the States?

#13 Comment By Jim On February 7, 2017 @ 10:25 pm

I think Mr. Merry hits the right profound question, but I disagree with some of his characterizations. I am an anti-Trump liberal, and I support more immigration, but I have nothing against Europeans. More European immigration would be fine to me. I am the ancestor of European immigrants, who came around 1900.

The question of “assimilation” is important, as a lot of conservatives seem hung up on immigrants “not assimilating.” What does it mean to assimilate? My great-grandparents came to America, moved into a Polish ghetto in a mill town, were dirt-poor, and never spoke English. My grandfather had an eighth-grade education. My dad was a Ph.D. college professor. I’d argue we assimilated just fine, and furthermore I’d argue that most immigrants who come to America now will do the same.

To me, “assimilation” means that you consider yourself American, believe in the Constitution and the concept of all being created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights. This means that you respect the rights and religion of others. If Muslims/Buddhists/Hindus/Atheists/Christians are willing to meet those conditions, I don’t see any particular reason to keep them out.

That’s the America I believe in, and that I’d like to see.

#14 Comment By between the lines On February 7, 2017 @ 11:07 pm

“Your fearful reaction against change is, frankly, based purely in a fear of what a non-white America will look like. “

I think it’s more that he’s concerned about what has happened to Americans during the past 20 or so years of uncontrolled immigration. Stagnant wages, growing income inequality, record long-term unemployment among the native population, harsher and harsher competition for resources of all kinds.

In that kind of environment it doesn’t make much sense to encourage foreigners to come here and fight with our own citizens for those resources. It makes more sense – indeed, it amounts to common decency – to try to take care of our own, and to make the many millions of immigrants we have already taken in into Americans.

#15 Comment By M. Orban On February 7, 2017 @ 11:09 pm

@Nicholas Needlefoot
The traditionalist right doesn’t view Latinos as white. They also don’t believe that immigrants, Latin American immigrants in particular are willing or able to embrace the county’s founding ideas. (Limited government mainly)

#16 Comment By EliteCommInc. On February 8, 2017 @ 12:30 am

“Your fearful reaction against change is, frankly, based purely in a fear of what a non-white America will look like . . .”

I am not sure this position is accurate. Not fear of change itself, but the direction of change and more importantly the content of change. Let’s ignore the color factor. It is benign and means nothing. Though I understand the indictment.

–killing children in the womb
–the deconstruction of family
–the deconstruction of what it means to be a human being
–the substitution of labor itself outside —the confines of national existence as o rights, responsibilities and benefits
–the universalization of democratic structure devoid of its constitutional boundaries

All of the above are changes and they have varying impacts on the US way of life beyond color issues.

#17 Comment By DF On February 8, 2017 @ 1:18 am

Your use of the language about “shared devotion” to Western heritage and the perils of being an “uppity critic” seems unintentionally ironic, though it is surely intentionally provocative. As you took pains not to mention, the “mixed country” on the horizon that you bemoan includes the descendants of non-Europeans that have been building this nation alongside their fellow countrymen since before independence. Our “shared devotion” has been enforced, just as the presence itself of many non-Europeans (which created multiculturalism as an American phenomenon) was effected, through violence for much of our history. One explanation for what “the left” wants is a society wherein cultural conformity is not enforced through coercion, especially not through immigration policies designed to preserve the political and cultural marginalization of minorities. In such a framework, immigration and refugee policies are not guided by a desired end so much as by principles determining the peaceful and equitable means for the admittance and cultural integration for immigrants.

What also went unsaid explicitly in your analysis is that a European demographic majority is preferable. Leaving aside attributions of racism, perhaps those fixated on keeping out dangerous foreign elements with exotic anti-democratic ideologies would do well to consider the danger posed by those who are native-born and dedicated to preserving the Eurocentric and majority European-American country through violence committed against Euro and non-Euro Americans alike. Those with this outlook have never been terribly committed to democratic values.

#18 Comment By M. Orban On February 8, 2017 @ 2:07 am

@BAWWALI:
“The mayor, I am sure, is tempted to hold a diversity-conversion class to assure we renounce our old and historic values. This seems to be a nation-wide trend?”
…what are you talking about? Are you in the US?

@The Autist Formerly Known as “KD”
“It is interesting that the Left never tells us what they anticipate will happen in 2043, and why it is something desirable”
Hey,… I am really curious where this nonsense come from? Who is “THE LEFT”? Is it an individual? Is he talking for the entire left of center body politics? Where this “it will take decades” utter nonsense comes from?
take me as an example: I came as a refugee decades ago, I was in my mid twenties. I had a college degree but spoke no English, had no connection, but a congregation sponsored us. A lot of people helped a little and it added up – I started out cleaning that church. In a couple of years, I got married, and we bought a very small house. In two more years (year #4) my wife and I both started graduate school and we had our first child. In an other four years, we had our second child, I became a US citizen, registered and voted straight Republican in the midterm that year. So that’s year #8. Is that assimilated enough? So let’s be generous, ten years should be enough for everybody and their dog.

@William Heuisler:
So what is your point exactly? I kinda sense that you are against immigration, but how is it connected to FGM? Like if we keep them out then they are less likely to mutilate their daughters? Or if we let them in, we are going to catch FGM? That’s’ silly , I am a boy.

#19 Comment By Darryl Cooper On February 8, 2017 @ 11:45 am

At issue is whether there is such thing as an American people, or if America is simply a free economic zone and social experiment that belongs to the whole world. If the latter, then those of us who expect, like everyone else in the world, to be governed by a state that privileges our sovereign rights and interests, need to start thinking about making other arrangements.

#20 Comment By Angela On February 8, 2017 @ 12:11 pm

Why doesn’t your article mention one of the key reasons that liberals want to admit refugees – because it is the moral, compassionate thing to do? Why wouldn’t we want to help people fleeing wars that we often inflamed? I don’t care what color their skin is or what religion they follow – they are human beings in desperate need of help, & we, the richest & most powerful nation in the world, can offer that help.

#21 Comment By Kurt Gayle On February 8, 2017 @ 1:44 pm

Angela asks: “Why doesn’t your article mention one of the key reasons that liberals want to admit refugees – because it is the moral, compassionate thing to do?”

Most of those coming to the US and claiming to be “refugees” are not genuine refugees. Most are actually “economic migrants.”

Syria offers a good example. Nearly all of the Syrian nationals who leave their homes to escape war in Syria cross the Syrian border into either Turkey or Jordan (and some even into Iraq). When they cross into these contiguous countries to escape war, they have a right to be considered as “refugees.”

In Turkey or Jordan they register for refugee status and are directed to one of many refugee camps operated in those two countries. In the refugee camps refugees wait for the fighting in Syria to end so that they can return to their homes in Syria.

But when refugees in Turkey or Jordan decide that they want to move further – to a European country or to the US, for example – they are no longer genuine refugees, but economic migrants who are shopping the system.

The only Syrians fleeing war in Syria who can claim legitimate refugee status in the US are those who fly directly from Damascus airport to a US airport. Not many Syrians do that.

#22 Comment By Potato On February 8, 2017 @ 2:54 pm

The key to the immigration question is which people does this country need to further national prosperity and unity. The answer is categorically not low skilled uneducated workers. We already have a large base of unemployed able bodied unskilled workers , young men and women past high school age.

Very sensible. Right question, right answer. The only people who want to admit even more low skilled uneducated workers are those who wish to push the cost of such labor down even further, to the disadvantage of the people we have here already. Race and nationality of prospective immigrants is irrelevant to this question.

We should take care of our own people first. Low skilled uneducated workers in the rest of the world do not have any legitimate right to come here. No one in the rest of the world has any kind of right to come here. That is for us to determine, according to our own values. This is how every other nation on earth determines these questions.

#23 Comment By Look Homeward On February 8, 2017 @ 3:09 pm

“Why doesn’t your article mention one of the key reasons that liberals want to admit refugees – because it is the moral, compassionate thing to do? “

It ceases to be the moral and compassionate thing to do when your own people are in deep trouble.

You don’t get brownie points from God or anybody else for working at the church soup kitchen when you’re standing by doing nothing as your own children or spouse go down the tubes.

We don’t have the luxury of being “moral and compassionate” for foreigners. We’ve got to help our own people, and we need all our resources and focus on that.

#24 Comment By Nelson On February 8, 2017 @ 5:46 pm

We should take care of our own people first.

We can do that without excluding others. Better education and health care would be good starts.

#25 Comment By Nelson On February 8, 2017 @ 5:49 pm

Americans already know what a non-white America looks like. They see it every time they visit a city of any size. That is why they fear it; and that fear is entirely justified.

I’ve visited several cities of any size. They seem fine to me. Seoul and Tokyo are my favorites.

#26 Comment By M_Young On February 8, 2017 @ 10:00 pm

“Wasn’t Andy Grove founder of Intel a refugee?”

1. He was a European (specifically Hungarian)
2. He was one of three founders

Oh, and weren’t the Wright Brothers Americans?

#27 Comment By M_Young On February 8, 2017 @ 11:09 pm

@Nelson

The Declaration of Independence has zero…*zero* value as far as law is concerned.

The very first Congress limited naturalization to ‘free white persons’. So no, open borders has no historical root in the US.

#28 Comment By M. Orban On February 9, 2017 @ 1:26 am

@Look Homeward:
“We don’t have the luxury of being “moral and compassionate” for foreigners”
The cost of settling refugees is miniscule compared to all the other parts of the budget ( $3.8T, last time I checked?). When I came as a refugee over thirty years ago, the cost of my resettlement was the price of the airline ticket. Even that I had to pay back over the first year. The actual help we got was from our sponsor, a local church. One has to have a sponsor before entering the US and that person or organization is responsible for making sure that the refugee doesn’t become a public charge.
I understand that the problems of the white working class are numerous but none of it will be helped by excluding the needy.

#29 Comment By M. Orban On February 9, 2017 @ 1:42 am

Angela:
“Why doesn’t your article mention one of the key reasons that liberals want to admit refugees – because it is the moral, compassionate thing to do?”

Because it was written by a conservative for a largely (social)conservative audience. It is almost biological. The one thing that is common in all conservative is fear. They were fearful people before they started to call themselves conservative. Fear of crime, fear of the “other”, fear of damnation. Once we understand and accept that, everything, …I mean all their idiosincracies fall in place. No amount of data or arguing will change it we have to accept and love them as they are.
And keep arguing, out of principle.

#30 Comment By Bert Brech On February 9, 2017 @ 8:45 am

Look Homeward:

“We don’t have the luxury of being “moral and compassionate” for foreigners.”

We must.It is not a luxury. It is called DECENCY. As the great Jewish preacher Hillel asked “If I am only for myself, what am I?”

Luckily, most people are not so ungenerous as you.

#31 Comment By The Autist Formerly Known as “KD” On February 10, 2017 @ 12:27 pm

“You can’t be a true Christian unless you display “moral compassion” for scabs, strike breakers and imported low wage workers to replace you.”

Didn’t Tzar Nicholas II say something like this in 1916?

#32 Comment By IceyFrance On February 10, 2017 @ 3:08 pm

“Try as they might, however, the prominenti failed to counteract the powerful stereotype that Italians were criminals. Practically all Connecticut Italians were law-abiding citizens. Yet a small, visible minority was apprehended for unlawful activity including burglary, kidnapping, and murder. Typically, they committed crimes against their own members. Occasionally, Italian crime occurred in the form of La Mano Nera (The Black Hand), a notoriously violent organization consisting of an admixture of gangsters, extortionists, and assassins. By 1920, the Connecticut State Prison, located where the Department of Motor Vehicles now stands in Wethersfield, Connecticut, held more Italians than all other ethnic groups combined. Whenever the Italian elite reminded Connecticut of Columbus, “the Discoverer of America,” English-language newspapers ran stories such as that of Bridgeport’s George Columbo, sentenced to hang in the state prison for murder. Law enforcement undoubtedly targeted Italian men, but youth, poverty, and an inability to adjust to a foreign land contributed to their illicit behavior.
Italian crime made Connecticut Yankees recoil in horror. They wrote editorials about Italian “deeds of ill-repute” and their “unassimilable” nature. Another pejoratively called them the “swarthy sons of sunny Italy.” The staunchly anti-immigrant American Protective Association formed a chapter in Connecticut largely in response to this foreign criminal element. The Hartford Chat Magazine referred to popular songs written in the late nineteenth century denouncing Italians for their criminal tendencies.”

#33 Comment By Blockmegatron On February 11, 2017 @ 12:19 am

I think a larger question is why, in a world of global capital, global corporations, global media, and increasingly global sensibilities, we are not globalizing ourselves as well. Soon everything will move freely between countries except people and we will be the only thing that needs to get written permission from a nation state everytime we want to cross a border. That doesn’t seem sustainable.

#34 Comment By TycheSD On February 11, 2017 @ 8:53 pm

Nicholas Needlefoot says:
“This article repeats the tendency on the right to focus on the 1965 immigration law. But generally speaking, the main “non-white” growth in this country has been the latinos, and most of them would still be here even if the 1965 law had never happened.

It would have gone against private business too much, which is why the big demographic changes didn’t get stopped.”

I believe this is true, and this is the major cause of demographic change in the U.S. It’s all about what business has wanted, not what individual Americans have wanted. It has been forced on us against our will. In recent years, we have increased the number of immigrants from different parts of Asia as well.

I would argue that Latinos, though tracing part of their lineage to Spain, are not Western in the sense that Anglo or Northern European Americans are. Latin America’s history is very different from the U.S. A strong middle class never developed in those countries, and much of their population has remained poor and uneducated.

Many of the immigrants from Asia and the Middle East who come to the U.S. are highly educated, but don’t share the same cultural history as Western and Christian U.S. and Europe.

African-Americans have been here so long that they basically are Americans. They’re not Africans.

Robert Merry is right – it’s about the numbers. For the U.S. to remain a fairly cohesive, Western nation with a shared heritage, we simply can’t continue to allow immigration at the levels we have been. We don’t need more poor, uneducated Latinos and it’s not desirable for the U.S. to become more Asian. It would be better if we could import more Western Europeans, but then we’d be accused of racism.

To preserve national unity and character, it’s advisable to slow down or even reverse the immigration trends of the past 30-40 years so the immigrants who are here now can become more American.

#35 Comment By TycheSD On February 11, 2017 @ 9:07 pm

@M. Orban

Much cheaper to help people in their own or nearby countries than it is to bring them to the U.S. Plus, there are SO many poor people in the world, bringing in numbers that Americans would tolerate does not put a dent in the number of the world’s poor. Those countries that people are fleeing are simply going to have to get it together and reform.

#36 Comment By Demographer On February 14, 2017 @ 10:55 am

To M. Orban who says “The cost of settling refugees is miniscule compared to all the other parts of the budget ( $3.8T, last time I checked?). When I came as a refugee over thirty years ago, the cost of my resettlement was the price of the airline ticket. Even that I had to pay back over the first year. The actual help we got was from our sponsor, a local church. One has to have a sponsor before entering the US and that person or organization is responsible for making sure that the refugee doesn’t become a public charge.”

None of this is true any more. “Church” sponsors do NOT pay for refugees’ support. They are simply administering TAXPAYERS’ money to “refugee” support. Read USConfCatholicBishops report: they got over $79million in federal grants, but private donations was well under $600,0000.
[2]

The default of “refugees” paying back transportation is now high (Judicial Watch has used FOIA to subpoena those stats). Welfare use by “refugees”, especially from the Middle East and Africa, are extremely high. Please read p. 101-103 of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (2013) report to Congress:
[3]

To summarize some data, over 90% ME “refugee” households use foodstamps, over 30% use SSI, over 70% use Medicaid compared to about 20% foodstamp and Medicaid use by native HHs, and fewer than 10% native HHs using SSI. Unlike natives who typically work many years before collecting, “refugees” have paid nothing into the system since they collect a month after arriving. Since most are low skilled ( p. 85-95 ORR (2013)) they need welfare to survive. For this reason alone the US needs to drastically reduce “refugees.” Calls for making refugees entirely privately-funded have gone unheeded.

#37 Comment By Dino J. DeConcini On February 15, 2017 @ 9:04 pm

President Obama, the so-called “Deporter-in-Chief,” at least left office with a sensible policy of prioritizing the deportation of undocumented persons whose backgrounds included serious criminal activity, e.g. violent crimes and major drug trafficking.

On the other hand, President Trump initial raids of workplaces and homes remind us of disgraced former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio whose racial profiling and abuse of prisoners cost the County tens of millions of dollars in judgments before the voters finally retired him.

ICE’s widely publicized arrest and deportation last week of Guadalupe Garcia de los Rios in Phoenix seems to be typical of many of the other estimated 600 caught in this imitial dragnet – arrived illegally as a teenager, married in her 20’s, and has two teenage, U.S. born daughters. Her ” felony” was a fake ID, obviously necessary to work to help support her family.

I’m not an expert on all the cultures covered by Mr. Merry’s and other commentator’s statistics. However being born and raised in Southern Arizona and having travelled frequently to Mexico, Central and South America, I know something about Latino culture. And so I ask, are not most of these immigrants, documented or not, exactly the kinds of people our aging society and economy need – young, extremely hard-working, law abiding (more so than their native-born counterparts), patriotic (v. military service over generations), entrepreneurial, and social conservatives (mostly Catholics), who according to unbiased studies, contribute far more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

They remind me somewhat of Italian immigrant families, including my own. My grandfather immigrated as a teenager over a century ago to work in the mines until becoming a successful small businessman. His son became a lawyer, state Attorney General and state Supreme Court Justice; and one of his sons, also a lawyer, became a County Attorney and U.S. Senator.

So, President Trump – Yes, arrest, convict and deport the really bad guys, continue carefully but lawfully vetting refugees, and for most of the rest already here, don’t criminalize immigration per se, but let the system work.