A Debate About Immigration


A very smart friend wrote the following to me (in bold). My rejoinder (in normal print) follows each of his, or her statements.
The easiest way to drastically reduce the number of illegal aliens is to make legal immigration easier.
This idea is very similar to another radical liberal idea. The easiest way to reduce illegal behavior is to make the behavior legal. This is a disastrous Idea. Immigration should be based upon this Nation’s basic needs for talent. Race should not be a factor. Considerations of talent and this Nation’s needs for particular forms of talent should be the primary consideration in our setting quotas and accepting legal immigrants. Exactly where the recruited Legal Immigrants come from, or what their skin color should not, and need not, be a consideration.
But I suspect that it isn’t the “illegal” part that is troublesome, it’s the immigrant part — we were all immigrants at one point — but now that we have arrived, we wish to deprive others of the opportunities that we enjoy.
It is plain to see that there are bigots in every race. But, the idea that the anger over illegal immigration is because, in general, Americans have animosity for legal immigrants and want to deprive them of opportunity is preposterous. I hope you will rethink this particular point. The majority of Americans are gravely concerned because they understand that no socioculture can sustain an endless flood of illegal aliens invading its borders.
America isn’t defined by borders or a population — it’s an idea. The idea that all people are endowed by the creator with inalienable rights, and that anyone can rise through the class system with the right talents and motivation.
America is an idea and a magnificent one, like no other on planet earth. But it does have borders and borders are essential to its continued existence. Other Nations may imitate us, if they choose. But, from a psychological perspective, individuals cannot retain their personal identities and function as an integrated and unique whole, without having and defending their personal boundaries–and so it is with the culture we call America.
If our native-born citizens have the talents and motivation, then they will be able to out-compete all immigrants. If the immigrants have the talent and motivation, then they deserve the American dream more than our native-born citizens do.
I am with you on this one! This has ever been so in America and that is an important (though certainly not the only) source our strength and vitality.
We must recruit, exclusively through legal immigration, the various talents this Nation’s needs, at any point in our evolution, and then provide everyone (so far as it is possible to do so) with the upward social and economic opportunities that have been the hallmark of America.
Our government’s job has always been, and must continue to be, to ensure equal opportunity among its legal citizens. We will destroy ourselves if we attempt to provide equal opportunity to anyone who illegally invades our borders. Just as we will destroy ourselves if we attempt to provide equal outcomes for all.
V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D. 5/13/10

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