Why are We Only Speaking of Illegal Immigrants?

 

In her newest weekly column, La Diva Ann Coulter challenges a verbal tic afflicting conservatives. When they discuss the dangers and problems resulting from our 35-year experiment with massive legal immigration, they imply that the problem is confined to illegal immigrants:

It’s getting to the point where we’re going to need cattle prods and shock collars to break people of the neurotic compulsion to slip “ILLEGAL” in front of the word “immigrant.” The reality of legal immigration cannot make a dent in the elite’s make-believe world, where legal immigrants are only hot Swedish models, Rupert Murdoch and Sergey Brin.

The compulsion exists here at Ricochet, too. Comment threads about the fundamental demographic transformation of our country often veer off into discussions about fences and border security. But the problem is who — and how many — we are allowing in legally. Most of our population growth for the past 30 years has been due to immigration, and we plan to keep it coming.

The focus on illegals will still lead to disaster, even if a Republican presidential candidate wins in 2016. Any number of our “tough on the border” candidates will be glad to crack down on some illegals, as long as he or she is then allowed to increase the legal influx. That was the whole idea behind the Rubio-Schumer bill. They’ll be happy to close the back door if they can simultaneously swing the front doors wide open.

Liberals and moderates on immigration often chide conservatives about a monomania with the border. “Don’t you know,” they laugh, “that border crossings from Mexico are way down, almost zero.” They’re right: most illegals now overstay visas. But the main problem remains the one million plus legal immigrants the U.S. takes in every year. They don’t just create legislative districts; they vote in city, state and federal elections. And they are a backbone of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

Remember the five little words: “Today, America needs fewer immigrants.”

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  1. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Racist.  But yes, I see your point.  I must be a racist too.

    I think some of it stems from our bone-spur-raising reflex action asking people to kindly DISaggregate the two groups, as it seems we cannot even address the lesser problem of illegal immigration without being called anti-immigrant.  And racist.

    I also must appreciate the irony of being labeled a “nativist”, when I’m not even a native American (1/32 or 1/64 (some disagreement in the family wings) doesn’t count).

    • #1
  2. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The increase has been high over the last six years particularly. This article in the New York Times says that the millennials are set to outnumber the baby boomers in 2015 (see the Pew report linked in the story). The shift has occurred mostly due to immigration. To outnumber the largest demographic bulge in U.S. history is a big deal.

    Meanwhile, some of our immigration policies are cruel. We won’t allow any Middle Eastern Christians to come, nor the poor Iraqi citizens who risked their lives helping American military personnel during the Iraq War.

    And many illegals live here in the shadows, as second-class citizens. That is not right. They are vulnerable to all sorts of crime and exploitation. That’s not kind or merciful.

    We need a complete overhaul of the immigration policy. It’s not fair to anyone.

    We need to get organized, set some goals and objectives, and implement sound policies.

    • #2
  3. Randal H Member
    Randal H
    @RandalH

    A smart country would use immigration to improve the overall quality of its population and workforce. We take the opposite approach, often reserving legal immigration for the least educated and most needy of the world’s population. In essence our immigration system is a form of foreign aid. On top of that, I’m told that the primary form of legal immigration now is family reunification. One family member gets in and the rest of the clan gets to follow. I’m in favor of family reunification, but lets send the one back to join the twenty rather than fetching the twenty to join the one.

    • #3
  4. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I agree 100% we need a moratorium on all immigration for a few years, but I know why there is a distinction – have you ever seen a group photo of the winners of our most prestigious science prizes, spelling bees, etc.? They are wall to wall East Asians and Indians. Their kids don’t grow up to be gang-bangers or 14 year old moms, and they can be plausibly argued to contribute to the economy rather than detract from it.

    • #4
  5. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Yup.  This should be easy.

    “We had a workable immigration system — the Democrats abused it for political purposes and now we’re going to turn the whole thing off for a while.”

    I don’t expect to accomplish this.  I expect somebody to make the case.  instead we just keep negotiating fiercely over whether the democrats get closer to 100% of what they want or closer to 97%.

    • #5
  6. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Randal H: A smart country would use immigration to improve the overall quality of its population and workforce.

    Yes it would. The point consistently lost in this debate is how much extraordinary intellectual capital we’ve lost by making it so difficult for extremely talented people to immigrate to the US. The brain drain is now reversing itself.

    • #6
  7. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Petty Boozswha:I agree 100% we need a moratorium on all immigration for a few years, but I know why there is a distinction – have you ever seen a group photo of the winners of our most prestigious science prizes, spelling bees, etc.? They are wall to wall East Asians and Indians. Their kids don’t grow up to be gang-bangers or 14 year old moms, and they can be plausibly argued to contribute to the economy rather than detract from it.

    Plausibly? How about, “If they don’t grow up in the US, they’re going to be growing up in East Asia and India, and Americans will be lining up at their embassies trying to get work visas.”

    • #7
  8. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Randal H: A smart country would use immigration to improve the overall quality of its population and workforce.

    Yes it would. The point consistently lost in this debate is how much extraordinary intellectual capital we’ve lost by making it so difficult for extremely talented people to immigrate to the US. The brain drain is now reversing itself.

    Well if we’re doing so poorly bringing in talent, the least we could do is stop scooping up the dregs, right?  Whose interest are we in the business of furthering?

    • #8
  9. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Ball Diamond Ball: Well if we’re doing so poorly bringing in talent, the least we could do is stop scooping up the dregs, right?  Whose interest are we in the business of furthering?

    It’s in the American interest to bring in the talent and stop scooping up the dregs. A pretty obvious principle.

    • #9
  10. John Hanson Thatcher
    John Hanson
    @JohnHanson

    In terms of illegal immigration, when it is illegal call it that.  In terms of Legal immigration, we are in trouble due to Ted Kennedy and chain immigration.   The key change to make, is if we allow a person into the country legally, then the ONLY other persons that they should be allowed to bring in would be spouse, and MINOR children.  Adult children (over 18), sorry, get in line yourself.   Brothers and sisters, get in line yourself, Parents, sorry, get in line yourself, all other relatives, sorry, we have a nice line for you.  Then we don’t need country by country quotas, but people with PHDs in SEMP fields with a real job offer get front of line treatment, similar to Masters degrees, just behind the PHDs, then Bachelors degrees,  then college if they are already  running a successful international company, or have a marketable skill, e.g. journeyman or better carpenter, plumber, electrician etc.  Others with college degrees in business, fine but degrees in various “studies” programs get a negative preference, and non skilled go to the back of the line.

    Then immigration would be an asset to the country instead of a powerful negative.

    College here, fine, as long as you pay for it with private, non US  or US state government resources, then when graduate, in a useful major (not “studies” ) you can have the preference.

    • #10
  11. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Ball Diamond Ball: Well if we’re doing so poorly bringing in talent, the least we could do is stop scooping up the dregs, right? Whose interest are we in the business of furthering?

    It’s in the American interest to bring in the talent and stop scooping up the dregs. A pretty obvious principle.

    Do you accept that our culture is disintegrating in the face of a non-integrating wave of immigration from incompatible cultures?

    • #11
  12. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Ball Diamond Ball: Do you accept that our culture is disintegrating in the face of a non-integrating wave of immigration from incompatible cultures?

    I accept that the culture you and I grew up in has pretty much disintegrated. I don’t know how much of this is due to immigration from incompatible cultures, though.

    • #12
  13. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Ball Diamond Ball: Do you accept that our culture is disintegrating in the face of a non-integrating wave of immigration from incompatible cultures?

    I accept that the culture you and I grew up in has pretty much disintegrated. I don’t know how much of this is due to immigration from incompatible cultures, though.

    The fact of change is beyond our control.  The nature of it is not.

    • #13
  14. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    The key word, and often the wrong word, here is “immigration.”  Many of the Latin Americans who come here don’t want to immigrate.  They just want a job.  Which is why I would favor a temporary guest worker program, financed by a tax on employers who hire the guest workers.  The tax would not only offset the costs of the guest workers, but would also give employers an incentive to hire Americans (untaxed, and therefore cheaper) where possible.

    On the other end, I would certainly grant a visa to any student who comes from a foreign country and graduates from an American university with a degree in science, engineering, math, or really any field other than the humanities.

    • #14
  15. Chris Member
    Chris
    @Chris

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Ball Diamond Ball: Well if we’re doing so poorly bringing in talent, the least we could do is stop scooping up the dregs, right? Whose interest are we in the business of furthering?

    It’s in the American interest to bring in the talent and stop scooping up the dregs. A pretty obvious principle.

    Claire,

    Serious question – if it is so obvious, and I agree that it is, why do Republican candidates tend to struggle so much over this issue?  How is it that any discussion comes quickly to accusations of racism and nativism?  I would sense that most people are not 100% open borders – is our current mess just a compromise between people wanting “obvious” restrictions and open borders?

    Chris

    • #15
  16. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Chris: Serious question – if it is so obvious, and I agree that it is, why do Republican candidates tend to struggle so much over this issue?

    I don’t know, honestly.

    • #16
  17. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Our birth rates are edging below population replacement rates. Our economy needs immigration for continued economic growth.  No immigration, we face economic contraction.  Immigrants demand (in the economic sense) goods and services, as well as provide workers to fulfill such demands.  We could prosper in a zero immigration economy if our birth rate were higher.    With our current birth rate, immigration is a must.

    • #17
  18. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    We are already in an economic toilet.  Frankly, we could use fewer mouths to feed, fewer butts to haul.  How is this not the worst of both worlds?

    • #18
  19. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Petty Boozswha:I agree 100% we need a moratorium on all immigration for a few years, but I know why there is a distinction – have you ever seen a group photo of the winners of our most prestigious science prizes, spelling bees, etc.? They are wall to wall East Asians and Indians. Their kids don’t grow up to be gang-bangers or 14 year old moms, and they can be plausibly argued to contribute to the economy rather than detract from it.

    Plausibly? How about, “If they don’t grow up in the US, they’re going to be growing up in East Asia and India, and Americans will be lining up at their embassies trying to get work visas.”

    I think that is a little over simplified. I am sure there are brilliant people in lots of countries. It takes more than smart people to grow an economy.

    If all that it took were smart people staying in India for India to overcome the US economy this would have already have happened

    • #19
  20. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    David Carroll:Our birth rates are edging below population replacement rates. Our economy needs immigration for continued economic growth. No immigration, we face economic contraction. Immigrants demand (in the economic sense) goods and services, as well as provide workers to fulfill such demands. We could prosper in a zero immigration economy if our birth rate were higher. With our current birth rate, immigration is a must.

    With our current job market, what do we do with the new immigrants?

    When American workers train there immigrant replacements then lose their jobs how is the economy helped? There is one job that now pays less but two workers. The American worker is now on unemployment and depending on age may not work again.

    How does the economy grow well by having citizens on government benefits and immigrants working at lower wages?

    • #20
  21. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    The distinction between legal and illegal is needed, because as long as the law is ignored as it pertains to immigration, we have NO control.  Once we get back to enforcing immigration laws, we can set immigration law logically. (what point is there to reform immigration law while that law is not enforced?)

    The biggest problem I have with current policy is that it is so very complicated and slow to get a visa, but those who bypass all that are treated as well, if not better than those who follow the rules.

    Legal immigration to the US should be relatively easy and quick for those who qualify, and illegally immigrating to the US should be so difficult and punished so severely that it is not seen as a viable option.

    As far as my profession (IT) goes, immigrants are not causing the loss of jobs for Americans nearly as much as offshore contracting. I suspect that limiting legal immigration would only make more jobs leave the country all together, rather than open up more jobs for Americans.

    • #21
  22. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Ann Coulter’s worry about 1 million extra people a year is laughably quaint when you consider that in the next short 35 years, by 2050, Africa will add over a billion people. By 2050, there will be 2.4 billion more people on earth. In comparison to Asia and Africa, the Western hemisphere will see small population growth. Our main demographic problem is that the US birth rate has been too low for a while. That impacts the economy in big ways.

    • #22
  23. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Jager: If all that it took were smart people staying in India for India to overcome the US economy this would have already have happened

    It is already happening.

    • #23
  24. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Cape Cod, where I live, faced many of the same conundrums that the United States is presently facing with regard to immigration and growth. In the eighties, when the roar of bulldozers was waking up everyone and causing general alarm, we called for a moratorium on growth. No new hotels or residences until we figured out what we wanted to look like in ten years. I wrote about the moratorium six months ago on Ricochet in a comment on immigration, and many people liked the idea. (When Ann Coulter called for a “moratorium,” I honestly wondered if she was reading Ricochet.)

    The realization that swept Cape Cod, an island with a finite amount of space, was that growth would happen. We couldn’t stop it. But we could manage it. And we created “plans” for each of the fifteen towns and for the Cape as a whole.

    If the United States wants to grow quickly, and to use immigration as a tool to do so, it needs a plan to accommodate that growth, a plan that considers hospitals, schools, residences, streets, police protection, parks and recreation, and so on.

    I like the idea of growth by immigration but only if it calls for the building of new towns throughout the country. Increasing immigration with the idea that we will continue to shove more and more people into the impoverished neighborhoods and suburbs of our existing cities such as New York and LA will create new problems, expensive to solve.

    • #24
  25. SParker Member
    SParker
    @SParker

    And they are a backbone of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.”  Something about this statement cries out for a little evidence (and how many backbones does that wing have, anyway).  Absent that I’ll assume most immigrants, legal or illegal,  like most native-born citizens could quite correctly give a rat’s ass about politics, being much more consumed with making a living.  This politico-cultural argument is beginning to strike me as either phony or misguided.

    It’s interesting that people who say they believe in free markets and would buy the idea that it’s foolish to say what the world’s average temperature should be are so quick to think they can control culture.   At the turn of the 20th century there were numerous German-language newspapers in the midwest (because of the very large number of people who spoke German as a first language).  Somehow that didn’t translate into support for the Kaiser when push came to shove or prevent Prohibition from taking all the fun out of beer gardens.

    • #25
  26. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Jager:

    David Carroll:Our birth rates are edging below population replacement rates. Our economy needs immigration for continued economic growth. No immigration, we face economic contraction. Immigrants demand (in the economic sense) goods and services, as well as provide workers to fulfill such demands. We could prosper in a zero immigration economy if our birth rate were higher. With our current birth rate, immigration is a must.

    With our current job market, what do we do with the new immigrants?

    When American workers train there immigrant replacements then lose their jobs how is the economy helped? There is one job that now pays less but two workers. The American worker is now on unemployment and depending on age may not work again.

    How does the economy grow well by having citizens on government benefits and immigrants working at lower wages?

    Last question first:  non-citizens should not get government handouts.  Period.

    As to the other comments, you are looking at only one side of the equation.  Immigrants are also consumers of goods and services, increasing demand and thereby also increasing the demand for workers.  You cannot analyze the effect of immigration by looking only and the jobs taken without also looking at the jobs created by increased demand.

    • #26
  27. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    David Carroll:

    Last question first: non-citizens should not get government handouts. Period.

    As to the other comments, you are looking at only one side of the equation. Immigrants are also consumers of goods and services, increasing demand and thereby also increasing the demand for workers. You cannot analyze the effect of immigration by looking only and the jobs taken without also looking at the jobs created by increased demand.

    My question was not really about the non-citizen getting benefits while I agree that is a bad idea. When the non-citizen takes a citizens job for a lower wage. The non-citizen has a job and the citizen gets government benefits. Basically the overall economy is paying 2 people for one job.

    More people alone does not create the type of demand that increases the economy or creates jobs. More people with money increases demand and creates jobs.  If we add a 1 million people with no jobs or money, how have we helped the economy. There might be more demand for food or housing but how would the food or housing be paid for?

    • #27
  28. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    The only reason I modified my comment with the word “plausibly” is because of the chain migration issue — we also import plenty of hustlers, con-artists and bad guys from the sub-continent rather than computer engineers because of this asinine policy of second-cousin “unification.” Google food stamp fraud by convenience stores or SBA fraud and you will get a taste of what I’m talking about.

    • #28
  29. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Chris:  I would sense that most people are not 100% open borders – is our current mess just a compromise between people wanting “obvious” restrictions and open borders?

    We are currently somewhere around 5% of open boarders. So, whether or not you think it’s enough restriction, at least in that metric we are quite restrictive and far from open borders.

    To answer the OP, the reason I believe people say they are concerned about illegal immigration to the exclusion of legal immigration is because they are actually concerned about the illegality of illegal immigration.

    I’ve been known to suggest that complaints about illegal immigration were a convenient way to argue against people coming here that they simply didn’t like for one reason or another. This was unfair of me. I should argue against the arguments people actually make rather than guessing what they really believe deep down. While I can’t help but think that some subset of people are hiding their true motivations, there’s no real way to distinguish which ones they are until they come out and say it, and I do believe it’s possible to argue against illegal immigration while even being for easier legal immigration. I was surprised that my dad seems to be in this camp.

    On that note, I highly commend you for being honest about your desires. I’m not going to call you names. You should be commended for talking about your true feelings. This way we can discuss these issues in the open and the side with the most convincing (or perhaps even correct) argument is more likely to win.

    The reason I believe many people only complain about illegal immigration is because they really appreciate immigrants, even the poorer ones. They see that families can greatly improve their lives by being allowed to work here. Many are hard workers, and “pro-legals” like this about them. Many probably feel it’s a little mean-spirited to restrict immigration as much as we do. When people say immigrants should “get in line” they often ignore the fact that “the line” is either longer than their natural life, doesn’t exist, or depends on winning a lottery. It doesn’t seem particularly fair that so many are stuck in their country of birth through no fault of their own. There seems to be something almost unAmerican about not being about to “earn” a life in America, no matter how many American values they exude.

    • #29
  30. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    Mike H.

    For once I agree with every word you wrote – even the most agitated anti-immigration zealot has moments when he can see his great grandparents in these folks. Most will concede, off camera and away from microphones, that if their kids were hungry and they were offered the same conflicting, self-contradictory rules and regulations that we offer they would be here too.

    • #30

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