May 30, 2007

Immigration Inanity:

The beginning of my upcoming article in The American Conservative (not yet online):

Despite its tradition of editorializing in favor of openness and public participation, the prestige press offered virtually no complaints when the Senate recently voted to skip holding hearings on the convoluted "comprehensive immigration reform" package worked out behind closed doors by Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kyl with Bush Administration support. Nor did the mainstream media object when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced his intention to ram this vast concoction of highly debatable effect through the Senate in one week, a ploy that even Reid soon admitted was wrong.

This high-level disdain for open debate over immigration was not an anomaly. You might think that our nation's elites -- political leaders, public intellectuals, and the press -- would find immigration the single most fascinating domestic policy issue to explore. After all, besides ourselves, nothing is more interesting to us than other human beings. And few political questions would seem more compelling than which of the six billion foreigners we would want to become our fellow citizens, neighbors, workmates, and, eventually, the ancestors of our descendents. Immigration policy directly affects nearly every other question of our day, from education and crime to economic inequality and health care costs.

Yet, the national newspapers cover immigration with no more enthusiasm than they muster for local zoning board meetings. When they deign to discuss immigration at all, their approach is superficial and sentimental. Actual debate over immigration legislation is routinely denounced as "divisive," as if democracy is the opposite of "division" (which is the English term for a legislative vote). The palpable contempt the mainstream media radiates toward anyone well-informed about immigration contributes to the vapidity of its coverage.

An insightful economist, writing under the protection of anonymity, recently pointed out:

"Power today very largely consists of being able to define what criticisms are off the wall, over the top, and out to lunch… Those who wield it do not 'run the world.' Rather they can block significant changes that reduce their power."

There may be no better example of this than how the powerful treat informed analysis of illegal immigration.

For example, recall the Amnesty Baby Boom. What, you haven't heard of it?

According to a 2002 study by demographers Laura E. Hill and Hans P. Johnson of the Public Policy Institute of California, due to the 1986 amnesty (another "comprehensive" compromise, combining legalization with enforcement provisions that were never enforced), "Between 1987 and 1991, total fertility rates for foreign-born Hispanics [in California] increased from 3.2 to 4.4" expected babies per woman over her lifetime. Why? "Many of those granted amnesty were joined later by spouses and relatives in the United States." This fertility explosion among former illegal aliens choked California's public schools, leading to the expenditure of over $20 billion for construction of new school buildings by the Los Angeles school district alone.

Now, this bit of recent history might strike you or me as relevant to assessing the wisdom of the current amnesty before the Senate, but a Google search shows that we are off the wall and out to lunch according to those in positions of power. It's not quite accurate to say that the PPIC study was tossed down the memory hole because it was never allowed out in the first place.

Why is respectable immigration reporting so one-sided, inane, and downright dull? Just as immigration is tied into every domestic issue, the failure to examine immigration intelligently illuminates much that is wrong with American intellectual discourse in general.

Here are some reasons for this sorry state of affairs ...

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

i don't even know what to think anymore. i've been in indiana for 6 months now and there are hundreds of illegal aliens everywhere. and i'm talking american indians, short, brown, don't speak a word of english, totally not mestizo at all illegal aliens.

in indiana! what is going on here, seriously? this is an absolute disaster for the united states. i will literally have to explain to my kids that this is not normal, and they might actually not believe me once the public schools and media get done with them.

there's just no way the US should change THAT MUCH in my short 30 year lifetime.

i swear, there are more of them every single month. every time the federal government gets in the news about giving them amnesty, it seems more of them show up.

Anonymous said...

James Fulford named this correctly: it's not immigration, it's "colonization."


Anonymous said...

That baby boom in 86 and the enduring trend of hispanics to have more children in the US than they would've in their home country despite being in low wage jobs demonstrates a fundamental difference between our cultures - a difference in the decision making process about what constitutes a good standard of living for rearing a child.

White Americans will use birth control when they perceive that their living conditions aren't suitable for having a child. This seems to be a European trait in general, a good example is from French history. During a famine in the 18th or 19th cent, the young waited until their late 20's to marry because they couldn't afford their own homes or children. In my lifetime, I've noticed that even if someone has an unplanned pregnancy, they will be ever more diligent about birth control afterwards. I've known more than a few people who have had one child early on then had the rest of their family up to ten years later when they could better afford it.

The tragic case in Texas where a young hispanic woman killed herself and three of her children is a stark example of this difference in thought processes. Her living standard was presumably low before she had the 1st child yet she followed with three more. Religion can't be the only reason for this. More than a few Christian fundamentalist have become pragmatic rather than purist when faced with the realities of family planning.

Certainly, many hispanics manage to feed and clothe their children adequately despite low wages and illegal status. The low standard of living almost guarantees similar hardship for hispanic children once they reach adulthood. Nevertheless, illegals are confident enough in the future to bring not one but many children into the world under adverse circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Steve -- Derbyshire believes it is the desire overtly for the Elites to turn the nation into Latin America. To keep their sinecures for their children and deny them to everyone else. And avoid the competition that upward mobility brings.

Anonymous said...

There is a code of silence on
negative effects from an immigration cohort.
To be interesting on the topic, media would have to allow that immigrants could be bad for us, and bad for civilization, thus allowing for two sides to be presented.
Instead the immigrant is treated as
a group which can do no wrong, somewhat like sacred monkeys in Japan.
This is true to such extent that it causes an uproar if one describes the 9-11 terrorists as immigrants.
From that one can draw out the implication that the immigrant is , by definition, incapable of being a terrorist.

Anonymous said...

I've been waiting very impatiently for a week or so for the rest of the article. a list of factors leading to the sorry state of media discourse!! from sailer!! you've earned $3 for american conservative, when the latest edition is up for purchase online.