It's Official: U.S. Importing Poverty
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For the last year, the discussion of immigration policy in this country has understandably focused on the connection between the mass immigration so beloved by the Open Borders lobby and the terrorism that so pulverized the American psyche last September.

Nothing has so dramatized the folly of Open Borders than Sept. 11, but despite its importance and its drama, terrorism by immigrants is not the only—or even the main—reason for keeping the borders shut.

The cultural impact of Third World immigration—on language, on manners, on crime and political institutions—is the main reason to keep American borders tight, but there are economic (and therefore also cultural) reasons as well. The New York Times a couple of weeks ago specified a few of them.

"The surprising drop in median income in New York City that has puzzled demographers studying the results of the 2000 census appears to be traceable in large part to immigration,"

the Times reported, using 2000 Census Bureau figures. Those parts of the Big Apple in which income dropped just happen to be the same ones where the most immigrants have settled, often in neighborhoods

"where longtime residents have moved out and been replaced by immigrants."

The same pattern was apparent in New Jersey as well. There the biggest jump in income came in Hunterdon County,

"a heavily white county at the heart of what has been called the state's flourishing wealth belt. Meanwhile, median incomes dropped in Newark, Paterson, and Trenton, and in smaller cities where less educated, less skilled immigrants have moved in."

Nor is it only New York and New Jersey. About 25 percent of the nation's Hispanic population live below the poverty line, with 27 percent of Puerto Rican families and 24 percent of Mexican families. Only Cubans, 11 percent of whom are in poverty, depart from the norm—mainly because they consist of the Cuban upper classes and their descendants who felt the brunt of Fidel Castro's "liberation."

Teenage Latino girls

"have the highest teenage birthrate of all major racial and ethnic groups in the nation,"

the Los Angeles Times reported last spring.

"Recent immigrants make less money, own fewer homes and are less likely to become citizens than foreigners who came to the United States in decades past,"

the Houston Chronicle reported that a study from the Center for Immigration Studies found last year. The Center has estimated that Mexican immigration has reduced the wages of native unskilled workers (mostly black) by some 5 percent.

Of course, the only reason these patterns should be "surprising" or that demographers should be "puzzled" is that both the surprised Times and the puzzled demographers have swallowed the Big Lies of the Open Border crowd—that more immigrants create wealth and "have saved our cities."

What the 2000 Census tells us is that the Big Lie is just that.

But we should not have had to wait for the Census to know that. It ought to be pretty obvious that masses of low-skill, low-income, low-education people from cultures radically different from those of this country or its parent civilization would not typically become millionaires overnight.

It should have been obvious that masses of such people would not only not assimilate to a culture (including an economic culture) in which they remained, literally, alien, but also that the presence of millions of them would simply replicate their old culture here.

The reason it wasn't obvious is that the Open Borders lobby has cleverly exploited the myth of Economic Man to insinuate into the American mind the unexamined premise that immigration today means Asian computer geniuses and Korean store owners.

There are such immigrants, obviously, but they're not typical of the millions who have entered this country during the last 30 years.

The Open Borders lobby has also managed to get many Americans to believe that the economic impact of immigration is the only way to evaluate it and the policies that created it.

Even by that standard, as the figures cited here show, we'd have to grade it with an "F." But what figures show is seldom the whole truth.

The larger truth is that by importing not only low-skills but also the culture that produced the low-skills, the immigrants may endanger the whole cultural foundation of an advanced economy—an economy whose high technology, work ethic, and managerial and organizational skills distinguish it from the burros and grindstones that drag the economies of Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and most of Asia.

What we are now beginning to learn the hard way is that the immigrants may not only have imported themselves; they may also have imported the culture that impoverished them and their countries in the first place.


August 19, 2002

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