The migration crisis: “Americanists” vs. “Transformationalists”

Last weekend, American Greatness featured an article by John Fonte on the migration crisis as its “Weekend long read.” This weekend, I commend Fonte’s lengthy article to Power Line readers.

Fonte’s piece is called “Migration Crisis Overview: Americanists vs. Transformationists.” His thesis is that Joe Biden’s immigration policy represents an existential conflict for America.

Before getting to that argument, Fonte provides an excellent discussion of the harrowing state of our border with Mexico, a summary of Biden’s immigration policy, and a persuasive argument tying former to the latter. He then analyzes the border crisis through the lens of a power struggle of clashing interests, values, and cultures among five competing forces: 1) the cartels, 2) the Mexican and Central American governments, 3) the migrants themselves, 4) the Americanists, and 5) the Transformationists.

Who are the “Americanists”? Fonte describes them as follows:

[T]hose who support the traditional concepts both of American immigration policy, in particular, and the American regime, or way of life, in general.

These concepts would include the ideas that 1) immigration should serve the national interests of the citizens of the United States; 2) that in formulating policy we should adhere to the Constitution, the rule of law and the statutes enacted by the Congress, in short, “government by consent of the governed;” and 3) that the end goal of immigration policy is the patriotic assimilation of newcomers into the American way of life.

By contrast, the “transformationalists” are “those political, cultural, and ideological forces in America who favor the ‘fundamental transformation’ of the United States.” They believe that America has been plagued for centuries by “systemic racism” that remains embedded in our core institutions, such that the “fundamental transformation” of the nation is required.

Fonte proceeds to demonstrate that the Biden-Harris Administration has explicitly rejected the three core principles of the Americanist immigration tradition: 1) that immigration should first and foremost serve the interests of American citizens; 2) that immigration policy should be implemented with the consent of the American people; and that 3) patriotic assimilation is the end goal of immigration.

As to the third prong, he notes that in April, Biden went so far as to ban use of the word “assimilation” by federal agencies. Thus, in Fonte’s words, the president “repudiated a core Americanist symbol from George Washington to Barbara Jordan that many regard as a quintessential manifestation of the traditional success of America’s immigration story.”

Accordingly, Fonte concludes that Biden is on board with “the Transformationist goal (and expectation). . .that the vast majority of the 1.5 million or so migrants illegally entering the United States this year (with, perhaps, the exception of some Asians and anti-communist Cubans) will be ‘integrated’ into the new group rights regime (equity rather than equality) established by American progressive elites.” The newcomers will be “integrated” into the “oppressed” group category in today’s prevailing cultural Marxist framework of American life as a conflict between “oppressor” groups and “oppressed groups.”

That, at least, is the idea.

If this analysis of the situation is correct, and I think it probably is, then it’s difficult to dispute Fonte’s view that Biden’s immigration policy represents an existential conflict for America.

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