Today the United States takes in annually more than twice as many immigrants as all other countries in the world put together. Many Asian countries permit no immigration at all, and openly despise foreigners. The top U.S.immigrant exporter last year, Mexico (with 95,039), is also a vigorous deporter, sending back an average of 150 Central American illegals a month, for lack of or forged documentation.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to our generous laws granting citizenship to children born on U.S. soil, as well as spouses, there is a brisk run of “tourist” visits by pregnant foreigners coming to this country to have their babies (notably, now, from Hong Kong) and picking up an American passport for them before return. Thirty percent of marriages contracted by Filipinos in the U.S. are said to be fraudulent. Last year a Mexican being escorted back to the border gave birth to a boy in the back of an INS van. That boy is an American. Forty quarters of work and he qualifies for Social Security benefits.
Further, there is the flood of foreign students entering this country, making for a third of a million such here at any given moment. Of these China is far and away in the lead with 40,000, a total doubtless surpassed after recent events in that country. Given the F-1 student visa, easily adjustable for legal status, fewer than 10 percent of that number will return to China. Finally, the asylum loophole is being made annually more open and absurd, one such applicant claiming to be coming to America because his mother-in-law didn’t like him, another because he lacked a TV set.
The organization called FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), to whom I am indebted for most of these facts, is waging a war against the overcrowding of America that the environmentalists should be fighting, and is doing so with apparent popular support. Thus FAIR’s recent poll on immigration attitudes in California found 94 percent of Hispanics in that state favoring increased border security, compared with 81 percent of voters overall; there was strong support for the four-mile ditch south of San Diego, a border stiffening that would be, for the New York Times, “divisive to Mexican-American relations.” In Florida the Miami Herald seems to take a routinely left-liberal stance on most issues except those involving Cuban (and now Nicaraguan) immigration into the state, with consequent pressures on hospitals, schools, etc.
The first thing the illegal does in crossing the border is to break the law of the land he wishes to reside in. If lucky, he may then find our government conniving in his action by calling him, pace the Carter administration, an undocumented alien, a term irritating to a legal immigrant like myself with its suggestion of a few papers mislaid along the route; by the same token, if I had married three women and got away with it, I would be an undocumented bigamist. And apparently there are quite a few undocumented murderers at large. (Out of the 22,000 murders in the United States annually more than 5,000 are “cold cases,” i.e., unsolved.)
Then the State Department’s visa lottery, filing millions of applications from countries unrepresented in the U.S. and causing the mobbing of American embassies, was another distasteful cheapening of the oath of allegiance, turning the process of naturalization into a matter of If you’ve got it I’m entitled to it. Far more than Switzerland, America is held up to the world as the lucky-lotto country. Finally, the illegal is amnestied, to the extent of three million by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, a figure which does not take into account the follow-up of families. In the 1990 census illegal aliens will be counted for the purpose of apportioning seats in Congress. Verb. sap. In the words of Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), “Unprincipled generosity lacks value.”
I came to America under the old McCarran-Walter Act on a Liberty transport called the Marine Tiger (hammockhold accommodation, a £25 ride). On my quota visa I had to serve a five-year probationary period during which I had regularly to report my address, be fingerprinted in a Precinct House, clear my taxes and obtain a Re-Entry permit each time I left the U.S.A., and not return to my country of origin for any extended period—this to discourage people treating citizenship like a driving license (a passport is no guarantee of patriotism). I then had to make a Declaration of Intention within two more years, appear with witnesses and be examined in English and what is today called “civics” (now opposed as irrelevant by civil libertarian groups). I then took the oath in a moving ceremony. I cannot say I found these requirements onerous. They were much less so than for French citizenship, and INS officials were unfailingly courteous.
The McCarran-Walter Act was considered repressive since it allotted quotas to countries. England’s was the largest, on the basis of its being the parent country, and it was never filled, while postwar Italians had to wait in line for years for a quota visa. I simply walked across Grosvenor Square to the only embassy the U.S. doesn’t own freehold (it belongs to the Duke of Westminster), was medically examined, and filled in some papers. I had no idea what to write in the box for race, was told to put Caucasian, and felt rather grand. The quotas were not intentionally racist; they were based on the U.S. population as a whole where and as possible (immigration of American Indians obviously was not).
Now it is assumed that quotas are automatically evil, and perhaps they are in certain areas, such as employment and education. Immigration quotas, however, were designed to preserve the unifying ideal of American society, as popularly discerned. The “huddled masses” woman, Emma Lazarus, who gave so much impetus to the melting-pot notion, was an indifferent poetess, not an elected official, as were both McCarran and Walter. By now it is quite clear that the introduction of hundreds of subgroups, with specific claims far in excess of their numbers, fractures the basic coherence of society, as the language problem has shown. Bilingual education and civic signs in various tongues really say that your culture is better than ours. For where loyalty is concerned it is difficult to be patriotic to a multiculture, and the culture of origin becomes dominant. Take the case of England, my own country of origin.
British society was founded pari passu by people with white skins. It was hardly England’s fault that she was settled by Saxons, Normans, Icelandic traders and the like, all of whom pushed back the Celtic fringe of Europe. She was enslaved under the Roman Empire, her queen, Boadicea, killing herself after the indignity of being publicly scourged, a fact that has never persuaded me to boycott Italian restaurants. There was no significant immigration into England by either blacks or Asiatics until after the Second World War and, in particular, the 1960’s. No Labour politician dared stem the influx, preferring to spend the time of day opposing the playing of Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory and the like. Today England is so attractive for settlement-immigration that a third of such visas goes to the Indian Subcontinent, and the larger part of that to Pakistan, which exports immigrants with by far the highest birthrate of any alien group in England (well beyond even the West Indians). As a result of beneficent laxity in legislation, then, England seems headed for the imposition of color quotas.
Last year the U.S. took in one-tenth of one percent of the entire population of Mexico, which was, incidentally, the first country in the Western hemisphere to recognize the Bolsheviks (in 1924) and which sheltered Castro and assisted the Ortegas, as well as being the only OAS member to decline to break ties with Cuba in 1964. In the same year the U.S. admitted under a hundred Irish. Immigration quotas into America are called racist although Asian countries like Japan discourage immigration, while Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines all carry quota systems on their books eliminating or restricting Chinese immigration. So McCarran-Walter stands accused under a neologism called “nativism” of trying to preserve, not only the natural beauty of America from overpopulation, but also a cultural mix that has been the patrimony of America for generations. The Balkanizing or splintering of this mix on behalf of increasing numbers of special needs is crucially divisive of the general coherence of our society.
As an ex-limey I am not advocating an excessive number of British immigrants. On the contrary, it is worth noting that in his Emigration and Disenchantment: Portraits of Englishmen Repatriated from the United States Wilbur S. Shepperson suggests that we British have been the worst immigrants to America in the sense that a large proportion decline to take up the Declaration of Intention and return home (especially true of the Scots). It does not surprise me. Half a century ago an Englishman coming to America heard roughly the same tongue and was put off by not finding a closer approximation to his own culture. Semantics are at the heart of upper-class British anti-Americanism even today, for variation in language comes over, at first, as error. A different language is another matter. Changing his tongue, a Creek or Pole invests more psychological capital in the new land and will assimilate better, in the sense of assenting to and supporting national ideals. To such we provoke disloyalty by financing departures from the language and customs of the host community; for instance, in England today, despite the illegality of brutal halal slaughtering, schools with Moslem pupils have been cowed into sponsoring such meat in their dinners. Far from enriching the national body with fresh currents of plurality, we are publicly financing national disintegration. After all, it is calculated that by the end of the century nearly one-third of all school-age children in America will be from minority populations. Amnesty of illegals is now to include their families; such may “run to a million,” according to INS spokesman Duke Austin, spouses and children becoming eligible for welfare permits.
The irony is that while America is opening its borders to multi-ethnicity, Europe is closing its (Italy even evolving a McCarran-Walter quota system of its own). With the abolition of frontiers pan-Europe sees the spectacle of floating work forces (Vietnamese, Sri Lankan, Zairian, whatever) moving freely from country to country and displacing indigenous workers. Sri Lankan Tamils have already violently resisted deportation at London’s Heathrow Airport, even stripping off their trousers in protest. It is by no means alarmist to see networks of smugglers and forgers entering eventual pan-Europe as tourists when documentation, already minimal, will be nonexistent.
So when the Senate passed a measure that would exclude illegal aliens from Social Security and disability payments, liberals called it “punitive” and the ACLU “unfair,” although Idi Amin was allowed to get away with expelling 26,000 Asians. Unfair, let us add, to those who should by rights be subject to deportation, and punitive to our exchequer—in 1986 the U.S. government paid more than $17 million in Social Security benefits to illegal aliens. Outside the law itself we find tax-levying bodies relaxing or breaking it, as when CUNY (City University of New York) granted reduced tuition for “undocumented” aliens. As one who taught within CUNY I can assure the reader that its humanitarian stance in this regard was commingled with a sneaking desire for survival. Its financial aid offices encourage as many students as possible, since without students the colleges would not exist. Bilingualism becomes a must under such circumstances, just to hold class.
And in the immigrant-rich states (New York, California, Florida) bilingualism is such that there will soon be no necessity for newcomers to this country to speak English at all. As for American history, the representative of an immigrant rights coalition has said, “It is nice to know who was the first President of the United States, but it’s not necessary.” With a third of Inner London now ethnic the British critic Russell Lewis depicts welfare-state immigration in words that could well be applied to America: “In post-Beveridge Britain we have tended more and more to think of membership of our democracy as a ticket, enabling the holder to join in a squalid scramble for benefits, instead of as a privilege, a share in a decent and just, even a great society.”
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