Booklist, March 15, 1995
Alien Nation: Common Sense About Immigration and the American Future. (book reviews)
By Ray Olson.
© American Library Association 1995
E pluribus unum no more? Like most other recent immigrants, former Englishman Brimelow thinks U.S. immigration policy badly needs reforming. Immigration is too high to begin with, he says, but also too many unskilled workers are coming, legally as well as illegally, as are too many persons whose ethnicities differ from the U.S. norm of predominantly European extractions. Brimelow maintains that besides the ill effects present immigration has on law enforcement, social service provision, public health, and the environment, it is undermining the sense of the U.S. as a nation.
But we've always been "a nation of immigrants," you say? Brimelow documents that that is true only in that the American people, like the people of every other nation we know of, came from somewhere else. Moreover, throughout American history, immigration has occurred, not continuously, but in several waves that have alternated with long periods of assimilation - this is the pattern that built the nation and that the immigration tsunami touched off by the 1965 Immigration Act and complicated by the political resistance to assimilation known as multiculturalism has broken.
The U.S. badly needs to drastically reduce immigration now, absorb the last 30 years' worth of new Americans, and rethink its immigration policies, Brimelow concludes, or it may dissolve into a bunch of smaller countries, in some of which democracy as we enjoy it will not survive. Writing in the magnetically readable, "sledgehammer" (his term) style of his principal employer, Forbes, Brimelow is sure to fuel the debates on U.S. immigration policy in the months ahead.