impoverished immigration is to ask them to aspire to a statusnbelow that of their fellow citizens of European origin.nWhich, come to think of it, may be what the most fervidnproponents of massive immigration have in mind. Now thatnthe visages of Uncle Tom and Uncle Remus have gone withnthe wind, the country is left only with the unique vision ofnWall Street Journal editorials that pat browns sans greenncards on the head for working hard and scared. Certainnbusinesses and their boosters may also savor the tendency ofnimmigrants, especially the illegal ones, to keep quiet aboutnsilly notions like prevailing wage rates and decent workingnconditions. Is it humanitarianism toward poor Hispanics or anyearning for their cheap and exploitable labor that explainsnthe Wall Street Journal’s famous call for open borders?nHispanic leaders routinely make common cause with thenemployers of alien labor because both are interested innseeing the numbers grow. Hispanic leaders by themselvesnlack the clout to set the nation’s immigration policy,nhowever, and to the degree that their names are invoked innthat policy debate, it has been done to attempt to legitimizenthe maneuverings of their more powerful allies.nThe impact of massive immigration figures to grow asnexperts project the doubling of the labor force of bothnMexico and other Caribbean Basin countries in the nextntwenty-five years. (Mexico has recently been successful innlowering its birthrate, but at its lowest, Mexico still exceedsnthe U.S. birthrate at the height of our baby boom.)nClosing the southern border is not the answer. For onenthing, Mexicans account for only about 28 percent of legalnnewcomers, according to immigration expert David Simcox.nIn any event, U.S. immigration policy should be blindnto both color and national origin. Moreover, greater commercenbetween the United States and Mexico is toonimportant to be interrupted. While trade and investmentnmeans a greater flow of goods and services, however, itnshould not mean an unregulated flow of people. Blurringnthis key distinction only promises to spur immigrationrelatedndiscord between the two nations, and that wouldnharm no U.S. group more than Hispanic-Americans.nShould North American free trade materialize, immigrationnscholars generally believe that its economic benefits will notnalleviate massive Mexican immigration for generations, ifnthen; in fact, it may initially spawn more, as the moneynrequired to migrate is attained more quickly, along with thenwork place qualifications demanded in the United States.nMeanwhile, Linda Chavez’s assertion that low-wagenimmigrants have “saved” certain industries notwithstanding,ntheir labor represents but a terriporary fix to those enterprises.nMichael S. Teitelbaum, the former stafi^ director ofnCongress’s Select Committee on Population, observes thatnthe garment industry, for example, is doomed here notnbecause of the presence or absence of immigrant workers,nbut because the industry is poorly structured, undercapitalized,nand incapable of sustained competition from morenefficient offshore competitors. Economist Philip Martin saysnthat of the three ways by which productivity can benenhanced—capital, technology, and more labor — morenlabor is the least efficient. The jobs that Messrs. Wattenberg,nSimon, et al., credit impoverished immigrants with creatingnare passe. Sweatshops are an industry America should benditching.nWe as a nation should be worrying why our chiefncompetitors are choosing to limit immigration and capitalizenupon the efficiencies of robotics and automation. Havingninitially invented them, how and why did we lose thesentechnologies to others? One obvious answer is that a readynrecourse to massive, low-wage, low-skill labor has served as andisincentive to modernize our methods of production.nDeclining productivity and a chronically expanding underclassnis helping to prevent the nation from “migrating” intonthe brave new world of competitiveness and a highernstandard of living for all. The assimilation of the presentnunderclass, including recent, impoverished immigrants, isnbest achieved by curtailing immigration, rather than willfullynpromoting or acquiescing in more.nThe notion that Hispanicsnin this country favor more immigration,nwhile the rest of America favorsnless, is a false one that hasnpoisoned the debate for too long.nNot for the first time in recent years. Congress has optednfor the illogical. Under the 1990 law to expand legalnadmissions, one million immigrants or more are expected tonenter the United States beginning in November 1991.nUnless U.S. immigration policy is altered, the decade of then1990’s will witness the highest levels of immigration for anynten-year period in American history.nIn contrast, the national interest would be best served bynthe vigorous enforcement of employer sanctions, somethingnthat is not being done more than four years after thenprovision was passed; a reasonable curtailment of legalnimmigration, here defined as no more than 500,000 a yearn(which would still have the United States resettling morenlegal newcomers than any other nation, surely a respectablenbenchmark for humanitarianism); and the replacement ofnour current nepotistic entry criteria with those based on skillsnand education instead. Even Borjas, like fellow economistnBarry Chiswick before him, has stressed that the nation isnfailing to attract the highly qualified immigrants it needs.nLeaving our current immigration policy on automaticnpilot without regard to the peaks and valleys of radicallynaltered economic circumstances could promote a levelingndown of American society, which in turn could be accompaniednby an intensification of tribalist politics; ethnic andnlinguistic separatism; and finally, the further debasement ofnthe coin of individual initiative, freedom, and liberty. Borjas,nwho finds little evidence of the adverse impact of immigrantsnon the labor market, and who appears to have becomenan economist because he lacked the verve of an accountant,nadmits, albeit in a footnote, that “the birth of an immigrantnunderclass and the presence of large numbers of unassimilatednimmigrants living in segregated ghettos may be anpotential source of serious political and social problems innthe future.” As a last resort, the golden door could benslammed shut.nnnJULY 1991/27n