CRB: Immigration’s hidden costs

We continue with our preview of the new (Fall) issue of the Claremont Review of Books. If you are a subscriber, it should arrive in the mail just in time to aid your Christmas shopping. If you aren’t a subscriber, you can subscribe for $19.95 by clicking on Subscription Services and get immediate online access thrown in for free.

In Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West, Weekly Standard senior editor Christopher Caldwell looked into Europe’s dire future. It is an eloquent and prescient book that makes no concessions to the imperatives of political correctness on the subject of the book’s subtitle.

In his CRB review “The hidden costs of immigration,” Caldwell turns his gaze to the United States. Caldwell’s informative essay takes up George Borjas’s new book, We Wanted Immigration: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative. Caldwell introduces Borjas:

Among academic economists, George Borjas, a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, has a reputation as a debunker of pro-immigration myths and narratives. This is not out of any a priori hostility to immigration. Having left Cuba as a child in 1962 after the Castro government confiscated his family’s clothing factory, he is himself a beneficiary of American openness.

But four decades in academic life have convinced Borjas that most of those who claim to study immigration—in academia, journalism, and politics—are better thought of as advocates for it.

Caldwell introduces his review on a timely note:

It looks erratic to us but may one day seem inevitable to historians that Donald Trump should have fought his anti-establishment campaign for the Republican nomination on the terrain of immigration policy. Already it is hard to recall that it was the establishment, not Trump, that insisted the battle be fought there. The candidate, at his announcement speech, spent a few minutes on immigration but then moved on to China, ISIS, Obamacare, the national debt, the Second Amendment, his desire to be a kind of National Cheerleader, and his own net worth. Trump’s skepticism about mass immigration won the attention of his primary opponents and the journalists who covered him because it seemed crazy—almost pitiable.

Caldwell continues his introduction:

For a generation, mass immigration has held a place of honor in each party’s political theology. It fits Democrats’ anti-racism and Republicans’ supply-side economics. There is a bipartisan magic about open borders. When the needs of immigration conflict with those of democracy, it is democracy that gets pushed aside. Federal and state authorities have left unenforced, and even flouted, the laws that govern employment, deportation, access to public services, and voting rights for non-citizens. In a 1994 referendum, five million Californians sought to deny welfare benefits to illegal immigrants, giving the state’s Proposition 187 a 17-point landslide at the polls. But District Court Judge Mariana Pfaelzer decided they were wrong. And that was that.

Caldwell winds up this lucid and compelling review with this conclusion: “[I]n exchange for a nickel here and a nickel there, we appear to have created a political problem of considerable gravity.” Anyone interested in this critically important subject will want to read the whole thing here.


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