The Nation Gets Immigration Half Right

The Nation, America’s leading Communist journal, is wrong about everything. But sometimes its candor opens a valuable window on how the far Left understands an issue–in this case, immigration. In the January 30 issue of the Nation, one Julianne Hing writes:

Donald Trump’s plans for undocumented immigrants 
are what get all the headlines. There’s the wall, of course, and his promises to dismantle deportation-relief programs for undocumented young people, known as Dreamers. There are his proposals to detain and deport millions of noncitizens. But lurking behind the president-elect’s frightening promises to crack down on people who live in the United States without documentation is a much larger ambition: to slow the nation’s massive demographic change by curtailing our legal-immigration system as well.

Put aside the hysteria. The Nation is correct on this vital point: the much larger issue is not illegal immigration, but America’s horribly flawed legal immigration system.

“Within just a few years, immigration as a share of the national population is set to break all historical records,” Trump said during an immigration address in Phoenix this past August. The goal of his presidency, he continued, would be “to keep immigration levels measured by population share within historical norms.” He added that the country ought “to choose immigrants based on merit—merit, skill, and proficiency. Doesn’t that sound nice?”

It does sound good to a large majority of Americans, which is a principal reason why leftists fear Trump. Now the Nation goes off the rails:

The reference to “historical norms” was an unusually circumspect choice of words for the president-elect, but it’s a phrase that ought to worry many. What Trump’s hint meant was a return to an explicitly racist immigration system put in place in the 1920s.

Much silliness follows. Obviously, Trump referred to “historical norms” with respect to the number of immigrants admitted, in proportion to the native-born population. The race stuff is sheer liberal fantasy, and any sane observer understands that Trump’s call for merit-based immigration implies lots of non-white immigrants.

But now the Nation gets back to the numbers:

These policies [of the 1920s] had their intended effect: a precipitous drop in the nation’s foreign-born population, from a high of 14.8 percent in the 1890s to its lowest level on record—less than 5 percent—in 1970. These pre-1890/post-1920s levels are presumably the “historical norms” to which Trump was referring on the campaign trail.

I fervently hope so!

In short, he was pledging to halt the demographic trajectory that the country has been on since the 1970s. In 2013, 13 percent of the US population was foreign-born. Current projections suggest that by 2065, nearly one in five people in the United States will have been born outside the country.

That is exactly right. The 1965 immigration bill, of which Ted Kennedy was the prime sponsor, has been a disaster. It has led to an unprecedented influx of unskilled immigrants who have driven wages down and contributed to vast social, environmental and economic problems.

But slowing this trend will require Trump to do more than simply deport people who are here without authorization: It will mean slashing the numbers of those who immigrate legally as well.

Exactly. Here is the heart of the matter:

As it stands, there are two main avenues by which people can apply to become US residents. The first is through family: reunifying with family members who are US citizens already living in the country. The second is through “merit”: by happening to have the education and skills deemed attractive by US employers. After the election, Trump again stressed which of the two groups he’d prefer the legal-immigration 
system to serve.

I love how Communists put “merit” in quotes. But the large majority of Americans agree with Trump. The Nation acknowledges what a major change a merit-based immigration system (like Canada’s, for example) would be:

That would mean inverting the current legal-immigration system. The immediate relatives of US citizens made up 41 percent of the roughly 1 million green cards issued in 2014. Those who came based on employer preferences? Just 15 percent of the total.

The Nation’s vision of America’s future is explicitly racist. It is, moreover, triumphalist:

Slowing down demographic change by curbing legal immigration is one thing; stopping it is another. Already, more babies of color are being born in the United States than white babies. Between 2012 and 2016, 3.2 million US-born Latinos turned 18; these citizens make up the bulk of the Latino electorate’s growth. Fifty years after the immigration law that paved the way for the demographic remaking of the United States [Ed.: Contrary to the representations of the act’s sponsors], it’s not likely that shutting down legal immigration will stop the changes now under way.

Whether these supposedly inevitable changes are good for America is a matter of indifference, at best, to the Left.


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