Presumably Robinson was not responsible for the tendentious headline—immediately and crushingly refuted in the Comments thread by a reader signing himself “Donovan Hinds”:
“Maybe people are fixated on the problem because we have a 50%+ unemployment rate among our young people. Maybe we are fixated because our teenagers cannot find a job. Maybe we are fixated because we see illegal aliens using food stamps at the grocery. We are fixated because we know many illegals work ‘off the books’ and pay no taxes. We are fixated because a large percentage of our local taxes go for education and health care for illegals.
“Why shouldn't we be ‘fixated’?
“A better question would be: Why isn't the Wall Street Journal fixated?”
But, beyond that, Robinson’s article is curiously schizophrenic—my view is that it had at least two authors. Embedded amongst pro-immigration happy talk—that the net flow of illegals across the southern border has stopped; that Mexican growth would forestall it restarting; the usual dubious suggestion that immigration has been an economic benefit, even a kind word for Governor Perry—are some chillingly negative remarks which can only be read as supporting the patriotic side of the immigration debate.
Robinson[Email him] writes:
“In California's public schools, the proportion of children in kindergarten through third grade for whom English represents a second language now stands at almost two out of five. In agricultural regions, entire towns have turned over—with a little zig-zagging, you could hike from town to town for much of the 450-mile length of the Central Valley without hearing any language but Spanish.
“Consider one neighborhood in Redwood City…Known locally as Little Mexico…I assumed when I moved to California almost two decades ago that Little Mexico…would gradually shrink or atrophy…Instead, Little Mexico has roughly tripled in size. Just miles from the headquarters of Apple, Google, HP and Oracle, the engine of assimilation has been humming ineluctably along—in reverse.”[Links added]
Mexifornia, in fact.
My theory: those parts of this article are those skeptical of immigration are indeed Robinson’s. After all, it was he who challenged Jennifer Rubin’s moronic Commentary essay on California last year, gently pointing out that discussing the decline of the state and never mentioning immigration is absurd—as I noted in Who killed California? The Neocons (3)...and America too?
Jennifer Rubin was rewarded with a prominent Washington Post position, while Peter Robinson is still languishing out at the Hoover Institution, having to put up with his work being given misleading headlines and (probably) mutilatingly re-written in order to get the Wall Street Journal to publish it occasionally.
But at least he did get it published.
Robinson was a speechwriter for President Reagan (and is credited with the famous “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speech). And, under cover of a discussion of his former employer’s signing the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, Robinson has actually managed the remarkable feat of smuggling a pro-enforcement argument into the fanatically open-borders WSJ Op Ed page.
“Reagan supported…an amnesty for the three million undocumented aliens then in the country, only because he believed that other provisions, which fortified border enforcement and required employers to verify the legal status of their workers, would end illegal immigration. ‘Future generations . . . will be thankful,’ the president said, ‘for our efforts to humanely regain control of our borders...’
“Thankful? Americans instead feel angry—and, for all his big-hearted openness toward immigrants, I believe Reagan would have shared their anger, recognizing the failure of the federal government to ‘regain control of our borders’ as a profound breach of faith. That breach of faith, he would have insisted, must now be repaired.” [Links added]
As usual even at the Wall Street Journal, the comment thread is overwhelmingly resentful of America’s immigration debacle, and I am afraid not at all sympathetic to Robinson’s necessarily awkward position. There are a number of very proficient critiques based on the numbers, for instance “Alfred Doyle”:
“…what of the 80%-90% of immigrants without special skills?
“First, the cost to California of the illegals: K-2-K-12 for their children, plus the Limited English Proficiency program—$12 billion. Medicaid plus SCHIP: $2.9 billion. Justice: $3 billion. Other means-tested welfare: $1.6 billion. Other programs: $2.8 billion. Total: About $22 billion.
Taxes collected from the illegals: Property: $339 million. Sales: $741 million. Income Tax: $125 million. Total: $1.207 billion.
“Next, consider means-tested welfare use by California immigrant families, legal and illegal, with children under age 18 ( WIC, TANF, housing assistance, food stamps, school meals, SSI, Medicaid )-—61% of such immigrant families used one or more of these programs in 2008-2009, compared to 33% of native-born families. (An immigrant is a person born outside the USA). 74% of such Mexican, and 68% of Central American families get welfare. 70% of the illegal families can access welfare through their U.S.-born children, by custom deemed citizens. Most of these dependent immigrant families come in via the various family preference quotas, not by requirements for special skills.”
And there are a number of valuable evidentiary contributions. “Scott Croughwell” wrote
“I'm a volunteer tutor for homeless kids in the Los Angeles area and was recently ‘stationed’ at a battered women's shelter. The ethnic cross-section of the shelter was diverse…However, it was only the Latinas that were in the country illegally, and all from Mexico. At least several of them were also not battered and had family living nearby, both of which are contrary to the stipulations of living at this type of shelter.
“Social workers at the shelter were able to get ALL of them on welfare through the wizardry of paperwork, and I know at least one of them was receiving welfare payments that added up to $24k annually…
“…out of the ~35 Latina women I have come to know through this program, only one has bothered to go out and get educated and move on to a job. …The rest of the women staunchly refuse to learn English and refuse to get jobs. Instead, their long-term plans are to collect welfare until their kids become old enough to simultaneously age out of the system and either start earning their own wages or start collecting welfare.
“Supporting families down on their luck is one thing, but when they can not only say ‘thanks for the free ride’ and instead frown on English-speakers and generally give us an F-you, it really adds a lot of punishment to the pain.”
Peter Robinson has not made his name popular with this group of readers.