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Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Moratorium on Immigration?

Pat Buchanan saith:
If jobs are available in the United States, Americans should go to the front of the line to get them, ahead of illegal aliens. And as there are six Americans out of work for every job opening, it is time to call a moratorium on immigration. Why are we bringing into the United States over a million legal immigrants a year to compete for jobs against 15 million to 25 million Americans who can't find work or full-time jobs to take care of their families?

Who is America for -- if not for Americans first?
Earlier in the column, Mr. Buchanan notes how, post-immigration-raids, jobs that illegal aliens were doing because Americans allegedly won't do them have, in fact, been filled quite handily by Americans.

I'm not going to talk extensively about illegal immigration today, save to say that I wish to high heaven our government would do what is indisputably part of its job and control our borders. I hardly ever meet anyone who favors unchecked illegal immigration. The only people who seem to support it are those on the left who see illegal immigrants as a huge source of Democratic voters (they're right; immigrants typically vote Democrat for two generations, last time I read anything about it) and those in big business (often putatively on the right) who realize that the presence of huge numbers of illegals results in a net drag on wages, thereby fattening their own bottom lines. The thinking on both sides is short-sighted, to say the least, and completely ignores what, as far as I can tell, are the views of of most Americans on the subject, and results in a situation wherein most of the country hates illegal immigration, yet seems unable to organize itself sufficiently to put a stop to it.

But Mr. Buchanan goes further than just calling for controlling the borders, to a call for an outright moratorium on immigration. And personally, I think he is right. A government's first responsibility is to its own country, to its existing citizens. The criterion for allowing, or not allowing, immigration should not be whether people just want to come, but whether or not their arrival will benefit the country. This has nothing to do with charity or the lack thereof to the oppressed or the economically desperate. It is merely the logical consequence of the idea that a government's first responsibility is to the people of its own country.

You should not get the idea that I dislike immigrants or oppose immigration per se, although I'm sure some will, since, as Pat Buchanan is regularly and falsely tarred as a xenophobe, agreeing with him on the subject will certainly get me tarred in similar fashion. The reality is that I rather like foreigners who come here. I take an almost childish delight in them. I find it flattering that they prefer to come to my country rather than stay in the land of their ancestors. There are few things I find more moving than when, in effect, a foreigner says, like Ruth:
Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
I never had a problem hiring legal immigrants when I was in the restaurant business. If they were the most qualified applicants I could get for the price I was allowed to pay, I would hire them. My life would certainly be the poorer were it not for certain immigrants, especially considering my fascination with martial arts. America certainly has benefited enormously from the contributions of immigrants--but even to recognize that is also to recognize that that is why we have allowed immigration at some times and discouraged it at other times: because America benefits--or does not benefit.

Like I say, I love immigrants, always have. I don't care whether they're the almost blue-black of folks from Senegal, or the deep Mestizo brown of people from the south of Mexico, or the olive of folks from the Middle East, the lily white of people from Northern Europe, or the various brown shades of people from all over Asia. I have never asked but two things of them: first, that they come here in accordance with our laws, and second, that they come here with the aim of becoming Americans. That last is not to say that I am asking them to discard their cultural heritage altogether, just that they embrace the fundamentally American idea that government exists to protect man's legitimate, God-given rights, and learn how to function in and respect our dominant culture. Every Sunday night, I teach an ESL--English as a Second Language--class to a bunch of Mexican immigrants in an effort to help them do that very thing. I have enormous respect for the effort those people are making.

But none of that means that immigration should be allowed from every country at any time. There are times when it is wise to call a halt to it for a while, and it seems to me that this is one such time.

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