June 29, 2007


How immigrants improve the curve: In the 'clash of civilizations,' newcomers may deserve to come out on top. (Rosa Brooks, June 29, 2007, LA Times)

[C]ontrast "our" culture with that of recent immigrants. On all too many measures, immigrants look a whole lot better.

Immigrants exhibit no shortage of pluck. It takes guts to leave your home and everything you know — even if a green card awaits. And when it comes to illegal immigrants, just getting here takes astounding courage. Illegal immigrants endure astonishing privation and risk — just for the chance to improve their lot by doing the backbreaking work so few native-born Americans have the inclination to do. While we demand McMansions, they share cramped apartments. We're up to our ears in consumer debt; they save almost every dollar to send to their less-well-off relatives.

The younger generation of illegal immigrants is particularly impressive. Each year, thousands of unaccompanied children cross into the U.S. without their parents, many literally walking here from villages in El Salvador and Guatemala. Could our sheltered and chaperoned children manage such a trip on their own?

Immigrants tend to be straight arrows too. A 2002 survey by the nonpartisan group Public Agenda found that an overwhelming majority of immigrants believe that they have a duty to "work hard and stay off welfare" and "respect people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds." A Harvard study found that immigrant students also have more positive attitudes toward education than U.S.-born young people.

And contrary to widespread perceptions, immigrants are less likely than non-immigrants to commit crimes. A study in Chicago looking specifically at Mexican immigrants found that "first-generation immigrants (those born outside the United States) … were 45% less likely to commit violence than were third-generation Americans." Harvard sociology professor Robert Sampson suggests that increased immigration may have been a factor in reduced crime rates in the 1990s.

Another study done in New York City found that immigrants looked pretty good across the board. Compared to their native-born peers, for instance, "foreign-born [adolescents] had less asthma, less obesity, fewer school days missed and less involvement in substance use, sex, delinquency and violence." On average, immigrants even live three years longer than the rest of us.

No wonder Tancredo and his supporters are terrified of immigrants!

Immigrants put us to shame. They're healthier, stronger, thriftier and braver.

Immigrants are optimistic believers in the American dream while Tancredo and company are declinists.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 29, 2007 9:52 AM

So I guess if we put up a fence, we'd get an even braver lot of illegals coming over, even more determined to make it here. Sounds like a win-win - immigration darwinism if you will.

Posted by: pjbbuzz [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 29, 2007 10:23 AM

And to think I thought they were all tb carriers coming to sign on to the dole.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at June 29, 2007 10:37 AM

In my mind, living near the border, the key reason the Tancredo view is shared as broadly as it is is that immigrants are not always viewed as 'straight arrows.' This is because crime, gangs and DUIs appear to be disproportionately problems of immigrants here.

Most folks realize that most immigrants (legal or illegal) are in fact "straight arrows" (one need only drive down the main drag on Sunday and see how full the parking lots are for the Spanish masses -- I just learned even the most snooty Episcopal church here now has one).

However, the crime problem is real among a minority of immigrants and many sensationalistic crimes have been committed by illegals. Ironically, a 'comprehensive approach' to immigration reform, had it been drafted by people with a clue about the real world, probably could have been designed to filter out the criminal element by better integrating with local law enforcement and while retaining the 'straight arrows.'

Posted by: JAB at June 29, 2007 11:11 AM

That's correct pjbbuzz. The immigrants will find a way in and make it work. The stupid and lazy stayed home or were born here. Those of us who stopped the fence did so because the price to pay was too high. Shooting people because they want to escape their prison would be almost as bad for the American soul as our current habit of killing innocent babies. I know, we should help our neighbors clean up their act, too bad the Democrats poisoned that well for us. Those countries stay mired in poverty because any improvement makes them look more like the hated Americans(Being invaded and used like tissue isn't liked? Who knew?). Those who are not trapped in their hate can stay home(Quietly of course. They'll be cut down if they try to change things) or they can come here. They are hated for the same reasons the Jews are. They work harder and smarter then the people who hate them. Old lazy money always hates new hard working money. They make the style game you fill you empty days with look, well, empty.....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 29, 2007 11:25 AM

LastRealAmerican, your tag would be example of that. If you are the last real american then the American culture failed in it's first, primal task, to thrive and grow. Culture is a means to an end, that end is to protect families and create children who will do the same. Barren 30+ women having sport children is not part of a healthy culture. Killing millions of babies without cost or guilt is not a sign of a healthy culture. The only reason we have gotten a far as we have is because immigrants have come to do the work our dead and never conceived children can't.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 29, 2007 11:52 AM

Here's what I don't get--doesn't Congress decide how many legal immigrants we accept? So why don't they just increase the number by a factor of 10 or so (or as much as it takes), and make it trivial to get processed in--just fill out a form at the border, and you're done. Maybe say you can get stripped of citizenship and deported if you commit a felony w/in 5 years. I personally would abolish dual-citizenship, but we can worry about that later. This would implement the "touchback" provisions pretty effectively, since you would have to fill out the forms upon entry, NOT while already in the country. Add in some sort of limitation/extra-checks on citizens from terror-sponsoring states. Opposition to such a plan would probably be limited to Tancredo-type extremists.

Of course, I don't think the Dems actually want to pass anything "reforming" immigration. They just want to keep poking the issue and making the GOP base jump.

Posted by: b at June 29, 2007 12:12 PM


Because it's about race, not legality.

Posted by: oj at June 29, 2007 12:16 PM

Indeed, Cubans, Haitians and Vietnamese were barely slowed by the water.

Posted by: oj at June 29, 2007 12:18 PM

It's all about Compassion

Posted by: h-man at June 29, 2007 12:32 PM

You lost me H-man. You seem to be saying that Kennedy is more caring then you? And given that he killed a poor young lady the bar is set really low?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 29, 2007 12:46 PM

oj: No, it's all about politics. It would be trivial to separate the Tancredo-type nativists from the legalists (who do exist in large numbers, despite your assertions to the contrary) by just cranking up the numbers of legal immigrants we accept, but for their own political reasons Congress won't do that.

Posted by: b at June 29, 2007 12:46 PM

B, how do you set racial quotas without being racist?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 29, 2007 12:48 PM

Robert Mitchell

It's all about race the same way Kennedy is all about compassion. All mouth.

Posted by: h-man at June 29, 2007 12:55 PM

I get a chuckle out of the 'race' argument since, as this article makes clear, the point of open borders is to replace our current underclass with those of a stronger work ethic.

Posted by: pjbbuzz [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 29, 2007 12:56 PM

No one would be trying to stop them if that was the case, pjbbuzz. The new blood is hated because they don't know their place, instead they live the American dream. Far easier to whine about how the brown back took your dream job just because he works harder, smarter, and got the training then to, you know, actually do that stuff....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 29, 2007 1:01 PM

Robert: Of course the current system, which sets quotas based on country of origin (at least as far as I understand it), is rooted in racism. But my point was that I presume it would be easier politically to change the parameters of the current system by radically increasing the numbers of immigrants we accept than it would be to completely overhaul the system. Would it be the ideal way to go about it? Not at all, but it would be a huge step forward. If we said that we are more than happy to accept a million immigrants a year (or whatever huge number you like so that no one has to wait), you remove the incentive to "cut in line" and come here illegally. Those who opposed something like that would be hard pressed to say that they were not being nativist/racist since you would remove the "illegal" part from the equation.

If you are referring to my point about putting limitations on immigrants from terror-sponsoring states and implying that that's racist, well there's just zero political and/or common sense in pretending that something along those lines isn't necessary.

Posted by: b at June 29, 2007 1:08 PM

Rosa Brooks and a Harvard Sociology professor? As they say, "any port in a storm," OJ.

Posted by: Thom [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 29, 2007 2:21 PM

"terror-sponsoring states"


I agree your prejudices seem totally admirable and above reproach.

Posted by: h-man at June 29, 2007 2:54 PM

h-man: You're right, I shouldn't be so upset about terrorism. I should just go ahead and propose banning all Arabs, since as the pathetic Dubai Ports World fiasco showed, that'd be a huge political winner.

Posted by: b at June 29, 2007 3:48 PM

It doesn't help that we have become so discreet about the crime associated with previous (legal)waves of immigration. We have forgotten ... at least, those few of us who ever knew have largely forgotten ... about Irish, Jewish, Chinese, etc. mobsters. It's as if only the Sicilians and Mexicans brought crime with them. And as if the Anglos didn't.

Posted by: Uncas at June 29, 2007 4:18 PM


Yes, they have superior values.

Posted by: oj at June 29, 2007 4:21 PM


Ask them--they don't want legal immigration boosted.

Posted by: oj at June 29, 2007 4:22 PM

Yes, it's a sad day at Stone Mountain when the Harvard Faculty is more decent than the GOP.

Posted by: oj at June 29, 2007 4:36 PM