FrontPageMagazine.com | April 3, 2001
Below are some quotes from a talking points packet recently distributed by the American Association of Immigration Lawyers designed to help their members propagandize on local media for more immigration. These are people who turn a profit gatekeeping the right to live in this country and they therefore want the highest possible rate of immigration. Each point is followed by a rebuttal, and some points by relevant quotes from a recent study of official US Census data by the non-partisan Center for Immigration Studies (www.cis.org).
Lie #1: "Immigrants helped sustain our economic boom and are essential to our current and future economic vitality."
Rebuttal #1: Let's go through some basic economics: immigrants increase aggregate or total GNP because whenever you add a new person to the economy and this person produces goods and services, this constitutes economic activity. But it isn't aggregate GNP that makes ours a prosperous country; it's per capita GNP, and these immigrants, who are mostly poor, dilute this statistic. If this were not so, we could increase our GNP by having the entire population of India and China move here. Would this be a good idea? Is India a richer country than Switzerland because it has a larger aggregate GNP, though a smaller per capita one? Obviously not. And native Americans are already the most economically dynamic people on earth; the idea that we need foreigners to come in and help us is an absurdity and an insult.
Lie #2: "The 1990s did see the largest number of immigrants coming to the U.S., but not by much. The Census Bureau reports that 11.2 million immigrants arrived in the U.S. during the 1990's."
Rebuttal #2: If 11.2 million people isn't your idea of much, what is? (Plus this doesn't even count the illegals.)
Fact #2: "28.4 million immigrants now live in the United States, the largest number ever recorded in the nation's history, and a 43 percent increase since 1990. As a percentage of the population, immigrants now account for more than one in 10 residents (10.4 percent), the highest percentage in 70 years."
Lie #3: We shouldn't worry, because "immigrants still make up a lower percentage of the population than they did 100 years ago."
Rebuttal #3: 100 years ago, we had barely closed the frontier and had heavy industries with an insatiable demand for unskilled labor. And don't delude yourself: the US was a mess in 1900, with massive political corruption due to immigrant-based political machines, slums, and the class conflict that gave the socialists their best showing in our history. This was largely due to uncontrolled immigration. Let's recognize that immigration did cause problems in the past, and is not a wholly positive aspect of our history.
Fact #3: "By historical standards, the number of immigrants living in the United States is unprecedented. Even at the peak of the great wave of early 20th century immigration, the number of immigrants living in the United States was less than half what it is today."
Lie #4: Immigration is good because "the 1990s also saw the largest, most-sustained economic boom in American history, the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 40 years, and the lowest interest rates in nearly half-a-century."
Rebuttal #4: Immigrants cause low interest rates? This I haven't heard before. Our economic success in the 90's occurred because Clinton followed Republican economic policies. And we also had booms in the late 20's and 50's without mass immigration. You can't draw causality wherever you see a correlation.
Lie #5: We should believe it when "economists and business leaders say immigrants helped sustain the 1990s economic boom by alleviating labor shortages caused by low unemployment."
Rebuttal #5: Time for some more basic economics: there is no such thing as a labor shortage in a capitalist economy, only businesses that can't find enough workers at the price they are willing to pay. There is not a single job in this country that couldn't be filled if the employer were willing to pay the wage set by free-market supply and demand. And if the employer can't turn a profit at that price, tough luck; full-service gas stations can't turn a profit any more, either. Employers have no right to demand all the workers they want at some arbitrary price they feel like paying. If you won't accept market prices, you are not a capitalist. What these people want is government-provided cheap labor, and they should be ashamed of themselves.
Lie #6: "Immigrants are revitalizing our cities."
Rebuttal #6: Rudy Giuliani and the economic boom are revitalizing our cities. What you're really saying is that our cities are so unpleasant that native Americans don't want to live in them anymore. Why is it then beneficial to artificially keep them full of people by importing foreigners who will accept a poor quality of life that Americans would not tolerate? Aren't we thereby subsidizing the incompetence of municipalities that don't measure up to our standards for quality-of-life? Since when is keeping slums alive an end in itself?
Fact #6: "Immigrants and natives exhibit remarkably similar rates of entrepreneurship, with about 1 in 9 of both groups being self-employed." There goes the myth of immigrant entrepreneurship. Anyway, are grocery stores really the cutting edge of our economy? Those high-tech immigrant entrepreneurs they parade all the time are actually fairly rare statistically; for every one of them there's 100 immigrants in a sweatshop or something not much better.
Lie #7: "A large portion of the population growth in the Sunbelt was caused by U.S. citizens moving from other states."
Rebuttal #7: Gotcha! So you admit that population growth is undesirable, and you want to claim that it isn't immigrants' fault. Well, the issue is avoidable population growth, and immigrants are clearly the part we can control at the flick of a pen. If population growth is bad, immigration is bad, as a matter of simple math.
Fact #7: "Immigration has become the determinate factor in population growth. The 11.2 million immigrants who indicated they arrived between 1990 and 2000 plus the 6.4 million children born to immigrants in the United States during the 1990s are equal to almost 70 percent of U.S. population growth over the last 10 years."
Lie #8: "Immigrants who entered the U.S. during the 1990s ... are improving the viability of Social Security and Medicare"
Rebuttal #8: Will immigration solve this problem, or just postpone it and then leave us with an even bigger mass of people we have to pay benefits to? And aren't we starting to privatize Social Security anyway? And speaking of medical care, aren't you aware there are millions of uninsured immigrants who burden the system and don't support it because they are paid off the books?
Fact #8: "One-third of immigrants do not have health insurance, two and one-half times the rate for natives. Immigrants who arrived after 1989 and their U.S.-born children account for 60 percent of the increase in the size the uninsured population."
Lie #9: "Immigrants who entered the U.S. during the 1990s ... are learning English sooner ... than earlier waves of immigrants."
Rebuttal #9: They are still the sole major cause of the linguistic fragmentation of our society, undermining the common language that is necessary for our democracy. And we had problems with those unassimilated immigrants of the past: have you forgotten the German-American Bund holding rallies in Madison Square Garden?
Lie #10: "Many immigrants, including Hispanics, have advanced and intermediate education."
Rebuttal #10: Nice rhetorical sleight-of-hand, as one expects from lawyers, since "many" can mean any number greater than one. Immigrants are still on average undereducated compared to native Americans, and this problem is growing worse, not better.
Fact #10: "The percentage of immigrants without a high school diploma is 30 percent, more than three times the rate for natives."
Lie #11: We shouldn't worry because "the U.S. has and will have plenty of open space. Even with large numbers of immigrants, the Census Bureau projects that America in 2060 will have lower population density than Great Britain."
Rebuttal #11: Gotcha again! For us to have a lower population density than Great Britain means having a lower density than one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The UK has two-thirds the population density of Japan, for heaven's sake, roughly 8 times our own. If this is where we are headed, it's bye-bye wide-open spaces.
Lie #12: "The current level of immigration is one-third the level experienced during the early 1920s, and during that period the U.S. was not over-burdened."
Rebuttal #12: Yes it was: the US was a mess of immigrant-based political machines and class conflict in the early 20's, leading to the immigration reduction of 1924, which substantially solved the problem and started the embourgeoisment of the American working class.
Fact #12: "The poverty rate for immigrants is 50 percent higher than that of natives." If you want more poverty, increase immigration.
Lie #13: "Population does not cause sprawl."
Rebuttal #13: Granted, if we're all prepared to be herded into the inner city by government fiat. But to combine the freedom to live in the single-family suburban homes Americans actually want with the absence of sprawl, we need no unnecessary population growth.
Lie #14: "A leading factor driving sprawl is the desire for new, affordable housing. Cheap land outside urban centers allows people to buy their own homes and escape urban problems."
Rebuttal #14: And you're saying people shouldn't be allowed to do these eminently reasonable things? Sounds like you're proposing to restrict the freedom of Americans to live where they want so we can both import immigrants and contain sprawl. That's the kind of statism you're committing us to.
Lie #15: "The cause of California's energy crisis is poor planning, economic growth, over regulation, weather and old equipment. A failed attempt at deregulation is the major factor behind the energy crisis."
Rebuttal #15: "Weather and old equipment?" Sounds like what the Soviets used to say about their poor harvests. Are you really telling us that if California had 9 million fewer people, (the number of post-1965 immigrants residing there) it would still be running out of electricity?
Lie #16: "The last time these restrictionists started spouting such negative allegations, blaming immigrants, not structural imbalances, for the mid-1980s recession, Californians listened. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now."
Rebuttal #16: How dare people pass proposition. Prop 187 by popular vote? Don't they know this country is a lawyerocracy, not a democracy? Lobbyists know best and we should shut up and fall in line. Please accept our apologies for exercising our rights as citizens.
Robert Locke resides in New York City. You can e-mail him at email@example.com.