November 5, 2006


Principled Immigration (Mary Ann Glendon, June/July 2006, First Things)

Opinion leaders in the aging societies of Europe and the United States have generally avoided mentioning the relation between the birth dearth and the need for immigration. Consequently, there has been little discussion of what should be obvious: An affluent society that, for whatever reason, does not welcome babies is going to have to learn to welcome immigrants if it hopes to maintain its economic vigor and its commitments to the health and welfare of its population. The issue is not who will do jobs that Americans don’t want. The issue is who will fill the ranks of a labor force that the retiring generation failed to replenish.

Meeting the challenge of the declining ratio between active workers and retirees will require many sorts of adaptations, but replacement migration will have to play a part in crafting effective responses. The good news is that America enjoys several advantages over Europe. To begin with, the United States has a fertility rate of 2.08 babies per woman, while in the European Union the estimated 2005 fertility rate was 1.47, well below the replacement figure of 2.1. More, the United States has a long history of successful experience in absorbing large numbers of new citizens from many parts of the world. (While the absolute number of new immigrants is currently the highest in United States history, it is proportionately less than in previous eras of large-scale immigration.)

A third advantage worth mentioning is that, while there is enormous diversity among the inhabitants of the American hemisphere, most migrants to the United States share certain important beliefs with most of the country’s present inhabitants. Not least of these, in the case of Latin America, are religious in nature. According to a 2005 poll of the United States and nine of its closest allies where people were asked how important a role religion plays in their lives, Mexico and the United States came out on top, with 86 percent of Mexican and 84 percent of American respondents saying religion was important to them. European countries, by contrast, are understandably anxious about what will happen to the functioning of their democracies if sizeable groups of immigrants do not come to embrace the core concepts in which those regimes are grounded.

So why isn’t the United States glad about Latin American immigration? Part of the answer is the economic cost of large-scale immigration. American wage earners often fear that migrants will drive down wages and take the jobs that remain. This fear is sometimes exaggerated, but it is not unfounded: The consensus among labor economists is that immigration has somewhat reduced the earnings of less-educated, low-wage workers. Many Americans are also concerned about the costs that illegal immigration imposes on taxpayers, with its strain on schools and social services, particularly in the border states. The desire to protect the national security of the United States, especially after the trauma of September 11, has played a role as well.

There are also some in the United States who want to close the door to newcomers simply because they are outsiders. Over the course of the twentieth century, that attitude seemed to be fading away, but in recent years sleeping nativist sentiments have been irresponsibly inflamed by anti-immigration groups. A few years ago, I wrote of the financial and ideological connections among extremist anti-immigration groups, radical environmentalists, and aggressive population controllers. What unites that loose coalition in what I called an “iron triangle of exclusion” is their common conviction that border controls and abortion are major defenses against an expanding, threatening, welfare-consuming, and nonwhite underclass. (I never suspected when I wrote those lines that they would cost me a half-year’s salary. But on the basis of a promised grant from a foundation whose causes included environmental protection, I had taken an unpaid leave from Harvard. Shortly after my article was published, the foundation reneged on its promise. It turned out that their idea of protecting the environment included keeping out immigrants and keeping poor people from having children.)

There is nothing for the Republican Party in catering to this anti-human clan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 5, 2006 2:46 PM

The Glendon article begins with the truth that no one can handle: the immigration question is the product of the Kindermord. The point on abortion is that the American birth-rate is just barely at replacement, and that is insufficient to sustain an expanding economy. The numbers of lives lost through abortion and the numbers of immigrants coming in to take their places is chillingly similar.

Every baby thrown into the dumpster has created demand for an immigrant replacement. Complaining that this demand is being fulfilled by runaway immigration is like complaining about water flowing downhill. The problem is not immigration, which is natural and necessary under the circumstances. The problem is the circumstances which made it necessary.

The pro-death, pro-perversion movements had undermined family values so successfully that we have no choice but to admit immigrants to take the place of the children who were never born. What is chilling about this is that so many of us bought the lies so readly: lies about the "ecology," lies about "ovepopulation," lies about "women's rights." All along there was a short-term profit to be made, for both individuals and for the national economy.

The substitution of immigration for children confers short-term economic benefits at both the individual and national levels. At the individual level, the expense of child-rearing is avoided. At the national level, is is not just avoided, but actually shifted to the country from which the immigrants arrived.

Not only do the immigrants show up ready and eager for work, the work of those who would have been bearing and raising children is made available for immediate rather than long-term production.

You want economic sin, I'll give you economic sin: deliberate, premeditated murder for pecuniary gain.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 6, 2006 6:32 AM

Except that we had massive immigration when our birth rates were high.

Posted by: oj at November 6, 2006 7:36 AM

The match-up is between natural increase plus immigation on one side of the equation and demand for labor on the other. Immigration is the correct solution to insufficiency in natural increase.

The opening of the frontier and industrialization made the demand for labor exceed native-born supply is the 19th and 20th Centuries. In the present, the right to choose extinction has pushed the native birth rate down to or below mere replacement, which is insuficient for an expanding economy.

Really, all we have to do is to look at the numbers. If we had been choosing life all these years there would be no question about building phoney walls to keep out people coming for jobs we need filled. The children who were extinminated would have taken those jobs and there would little or no demand for immigrants.

The numbers are in the tens of millions. Falwell was right about 9-11.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 6, 2006 8:21 AM

If we had that much more decent a society we'd just draw that many more immigrants. All that's changed is the easy flow of people, as of capital and goods. Recall that at the time you claim we desperately needed that foreign labor previously we were killing Indians and refusing to employ blacks, women, etc. We take in lots of immigrants because we want them.

Posted by: oj at November 6, 2006 8:41 AM

I'll see Lou and raise him. Birth control is even more devastating than is abortion, both in terms of sheer numbers and in terms of sexual disorder.

Abortion is the natural conclusion of the separation of sex from reproduction that birth control affords.

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at November 6, 2006 4:32 PM