An Opening Conversation About Immigration, And a Challenge for a Counterpoint
America First has to mean putting all Americans first
I’m kind of a big tent conservative, I think owing to the fact that over the course of my life I’ve been all over the right side of the political map.
I’ve been a fierce libertarian bordering on anarcho-capitalist, a hawkish but cosmopolitan-style conservative, all leading to where I am now, a social conservative with a strong, old-school view of fiscal responsibility and American nationalism.
So when I meet others on the right with whom I disagree about this or that issue, to me it’s a positive learning experience for us both. Steel sharpens steel, and even if we agree to disagree, we come away better for the conversation.
That’s why the point of this very blog is to have a conservative conversation about Lancaster County.
I don’t want this blog to just be about my perspective and interpretation of conservativism. I want this to be a place for all voices on the right. I want to welcome others to write opinion-editorials or news analysis, so that this becomes a sorely needed platform for the conservative community in Lancaster County.
Until then, I’ll occasionally talk about some issues those of us on the right may disagree over, appreciating the good faith and good arguments by which we arrive.
Take, for instance, immigration. I have strong feelings on the subject, but I am able to clearly see and appreciate those on the other side of the issue.
Having traveled across America and Europe, I’ve seen the toll foreign immigration can take on a healthy society.
But before I make a case against open immigration, I can recount the case for it.
From a more libertarian standpoint, there is the argument that government has no right controlling the free movement of capital across borders, or the right to interfere with a contract between two consenting adults. If I own a business and Pedro agrees to come to me and work for $6/hour, that’s between me and Pedro. And by keeping my labor costs down, I can provide goods and services at a cheaper price.
You can also make the case that we want people who want to work, and bring a stronger work ethic than those in our current society, which has gotten lazy and soft. There is further the argument that a person who wants to come to America – to Lancaster County – and become a citizen has more interest in being a good citizen than someone who was simply born to it.
On the cultural front, there is the argument that immigration adds to the cultural diversity of a place with a wider variety of restaurants, religious faiths and recreational venues. They come, they assimilate but they bring these additional flavorings to the American lifestyle.
The problem, from my perspective, is that while these arguments can work on a small scale, or in theory, that hasn’t been the way it’s worked in the real world.
The foreign-born share of the American population is at its highest since 1910, just before a mass moratorium on immigration that helped drive prosperity up through the 1960s. During this moratorium, foreign-born immigrants – mostly of European stock – were assimilated into the uniquely American culture. Wages for workers rose, which may have increased labor costs for business owners, but created the broad and prosperous middle class that has been the backbone of the American economy.
Since the 1965 Hart-Celler Immigration Act that opened the floodgates to immigration – especially to non-European immigrants – middle class wages have stagnated and the middle class has shrunk dramatically.
Just as today, immigration – both legal under programs like H1B and illegal immigration – has put a downward pressure on wages and taken jobs from Americans at all levels. And that means from highly educated engineers and medical doctors down to the most basic blue-collar jobs. (Outsourcing manufacturing to China, Mexico and India has further exacerbated this problem.) I’ve spoken to doctors who can’t compete with doctors from the third world because they are willing to work for such low pay.
“They took our jerbs!” was the South Park joke marginalizing blue-collar workers who were losing employment to foreigners two decades ago, but now the problem – a real problem – reaches into the highest levels of professions.
So yes, we have more affordable products to buy, but less money to buy them with. An America First economic policy would be one that benefits both American business owners and American workers.
Culturally, we also see negative externalities to open immigration, especially immigration from incompatible cultures. There are towns in Minnesota where they are practicing de facto Sharia law. We’ve seen the stories of no-go zones in Paris. Yes, there are a wide variety of global cuisine restaurants in, say, Austin, Texas or Miami, Florida, but in those restaurants almost everyone working in the kitchen is Mexican. It seems like all we need is the recipes and the demand, and we can have that dining diversity.
I’ve spent already countless hours walking the neighborhoods of Lancaster city, and the architecture and history is absolutely stunning. But the places where it is maintained and preserved most is in neighborhoods that are more ethnically homogeneous. Meanwhile, there are areas of town where the architecture is the same but everything seems fallen to disrepair. And in those neighborhoods I felt like a foreigner – an unwelcome foreigner – divided by a language barrier that no one there seems interested in overcoming.
There should be nowhere in America where an American feels like a foreigner, and yet that’s happening in big cities and in small towns.
In small doses, and under restrictions, foreigners can come and assimilate and become as American as possible, but under the system we’ve had for the last half century, enclaves are becoming colonies, and we are being colonized by people who don’t share our values, our faith or our love of freedom.
There is a lot more to be discussed about this issue, and I will in coming weeks. There’s the issue of immigrant crime (don’t believe the mainstream media), and cultural shifts.
And I welcome and will publish counter-points to my arguments right here. I welcome the discussion. In the meanwhile, two good sources for where I’m coming from are VDare and American Renaissance, who look at immigration from an American First conservative perspective.
If you don’t want to write a lengthy article, please sound off in the comments.