by John Eberhard
Over the last week we’ve been subjected to a virtual barrage of media talking heads and sanctimonious politicians expressing their outrage over the President allegedly calling several third world countries “sh$&holes.”
First of all the report that the President used that word, in referring to Haiti, El Salvedor, and certain western African nations, is based on the word of Senator Dick Durbin, and is disputed by everyone else who was in the room. So there is no certainty that the President used that word.
But as he often does, President Trump has brought to the collective consciousness of the country, an issue that is rarely even talked about and is shrouded in political correctness, which is “Who should be allowed to immigrate to this country.”
There are two primary widely divergent opinions in answer to this question. One says that we should let anyone come to this country, and in fact we should have completely open borders. No one should be excluded. The other says that we have immigration laws governing who should get in, and that anyone coming here illegally should be identified and deported.
The first opinion, that anyone should be allowed to come to the country with no limitations, is the impetus for the burgeoning list of “sanctuary cities” or “sanctuary counties,” or just recently, the state of California declaring itself a “sanctuary state.” The Attorney General of California has even declared that any business owner who cooperates with federal immigration officials and applies federal laws on immigration will be prosecuted.
The second opinion, that we have immigration laws and they should be followed, is behind moves that the federal government has made recently to start charging city and state officials in sanctuary cities and states, with violation of federal law.
So a fight is brewing, with each side lining up their weapons.
But rather than talk about all the details of the current fight over DACA and Dreamers and Chuck Schumer’s “Schumer Shutdown” of the government, I want to discuss the historical and philosophical underpinnings of this whole fight.
History of US Immigration
Prior to 1965, immigration policy had been pretty well established since the 1920s, including policies such as:
- Laws set annual quotas for each European country based on the foreign-born population from that nation living in the U.S. in 1890.
- Certain groups were exempted from the quota system, including highly skilled immigrants, domestic servants, specialized workers such as actors, and wives or unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens.
- Nationality quotas were imposed only on Europe, not on countries in the Western Hemisphere. There were no quotas for Asia, because immigration from most countries there already was prohibited through earlier laws. Longstanding bans on immigration from Asia were lifted in the 1940s and 1950s.
- Aside from country limits, federal laws already in place barred immigration by criminals, those deemed “lunatics” or “idiots,” and people unable to support themselves.
- These laws also required that immigrants older than 16 prove they could read English or some other language.
The 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, pushed heavily by Teddy Kennedy and President Johnson, brought major changes:
- The old national origins system was abolished.
- The new law emphasized visas for family and employment categories, but exempted spouses, parents and minor children of U.S. citizens from those visa limits. That exemption, and other priority given to family members of U.S. residents, meant that about three-quarters of visas were set aside for relatives of those already in the U.S.
- The 1965 law also included a quota for refugees, who were granted 6% of annual visas, compared with 74% for families; 10% for professionals, scientists and artists; and 10% for workers in short supply in the country.
- The law imposed the first limits on immigration from Western Hemisphere countries, including Mexico. Those limits are associated with a rise in unauthorized immigration, mostly from Mexico.
Since 1965, 75% of immigrants to the U.S. are from the third world.
Philosophy of Immigration
I see a wide divergence in the philosophy of the two camps.
The camp that says we should have completely open borders, and who creates “sanctuary” areas where no government official is allowed to even inquire as to the immigration status of someone, is I believe grounded in the idea that the U.S. has achieved its unparalleled prosperity through unfair means.
This is based on the idea that all countries, all people and all cultures and civilizations are inherently equal in value. So no system is superior to any other. This philosophy holds that for any group or country or culture to prosper more than any other, that they must have somehow used unfair means and unfairly victimized the other groups, countries or cultures.
From this we get the idea that any differences between the success levels of different groups, countries or races, are proof that unfair, discriminatory or oppressive means were used by the groups, countries or races with better levels of success. This is known as “cultural relativism” or “multiculturalism.”
From this flows the idea that the U.S. is inherently unfair, discriminatory and oppressive to other countries. And from that flows the idea that we must allow anyone to come to the U.S., legally or not, in order to somehow equalize that situation and make up for our past wrong deeds.
On the other side, is the idea that the U.S. is the most prosperous country in the history of the world, because it embodies principles of freedom for the individual, and has the rule of law. From this rises greater ambition and innovation, leading to greater prosperity.
This view holds that various groups, countries, or cultures, are NOT the same and do not have equal value. This is the view of American Exceptionalism, the idea that differences in our culture are what caused our prosperity and rise to being the most powerful country on earth. An excellent book explaining this concept is “The 5,000 Leap” by Cleon Skousen.
Clearly Trump holds the view of American Exceptionalism, something that clearly Obama never believed in.
So when President Trump asks the question, “Who should we allow into our country?”, it comes from the view of “What would benefit the U.S.?” This is something the other side would never even ask, because they are only thinking how it would benefit those from other countries. One could also theorize that liberal Democrats are also thinking that letting ¾ of our immigrants in from third world countries is also going to directly benefit them, because those people, generally without skills or education, are more likely to then become dependent on government welfare and thus be more likely to be a loyal voting block for the Democratic Party into the future.
But regardless of the motivations of Democrats, it is totally correct to ask this question and to examine our immigration policies based on what would benefit the U.S. It is not racist to ask if it benefits the United States to let more people come here from a country like Haiti, which is beset by so many major problems that their people are not likely to even be able to take care of themselves if they came to here, thus becoming an economic burden to us.
I recently learned that the largest city on Haiti, which is the size of Chicago, does not even have a sewage system. Haiti became a country around the same time as the U.S., and they cannot even solve this basic problem in over 200 years? The “sanctuary city” liberal would I guess say that they don’t have a sewage system because we oppressed them. I don’t buy it.
One more interesting point in this whole debate comes from Roy Howard Beck, an American journalist and public policy analyst who founded and has served as President of NumbersUSA since its inception in 1997. He gave a lecture in which he presented his “gumball theory” of immigration. He shows how our one million immigrants per year from third world countries is a small drop in the bucket, and that most of those people are the more energetic or ambitious people from those countries, who are needed there in order to actually fix the problems in those countries. Food for thought.