Norm Matloff Warns Immigration Reformers; Peter Brimelow Replies
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I found the various comments on immigration reform on interesting, but I must add my two cents' worth.

Specifically, I found it interesting that so many of the writers were so sanguine over the prospect that the September 11 tragedy would facilitate long-overdue immigration reform. Though indeed the event did take the wind out of the pro-immigration camp's sails, I believe that this effect will be both temporary and of limited degree. 

The fact is that it has always been the case that most Americans, including most immigrant Americans, have been in the restrictionist camp. The problem has been that the wishes of the populace have always been trumped by the special interests, such as:

q       the ethnic-activist groups lobby

q       the educational lobby

q       the computer industry lobby

q       the manufacturing industry lobby

q       the farm lobby

q       the immigration lawyers' lobby

q       the libertarians (often funded by other lobbies)

etc., etc., etc.

The events of September 11 have not changed this picture. True, the various lobbies have been temporarily muted in public, and this probably will prevent them in the near term from pushing their plans to liberalize immigration policy. But they will strongly resist any attempt to impose new restrictions on immigration, and unless the restrictionist majority in the populace can be mobilized, very few meaningful restrictionist reforms will be enacted (via legislation in Congress) or implemented (via changes to regulations and administrative practices by the executive branch).

This was illustrated this week when Senator Feinstein withdrew her earlier proposal for a six-month moratorium on issuing visas to foreign students who wish to study in the U.S. After she first made her proposal a couple of weeks ago, the educational lobby—including not only universities and small colleges, but also many specialist institutions such as those offering English lessons—immediately pounced on her. She then withdrew the proposal. She then told a radio interviewer, in what I perceived to be a rather bitter, cynical tone, "These schools make lots of money from the foreign students, so I had to withdraw my proposal."

Granted, Feinstein's proposal at least got the educational lobby to promise to cooperate with the federal government in monitoring foreign students. A provision along these lines had been enacted in 1996, but never implemented. Now that provision apparently will be implemented at long last. But the very fact that the educational lobby had been able to, in effect, veto a law passed by Congress and signed by the president, is a perfect illustration of the fact that immigration policy has been under the total control of the special interests.

Unless the restrictionists can mobilize the latent support within the populace, the events of September 11—as dramatic and traumatizing as they were—will likely produce very little of real substance in terms of impact on immigration policy.



Peter Brimelow replies: And a very nice day to you too, Norm!  Norm Matloff (send him email) is one of the outstanding figures of the immigration reform movement, but his methods can be depressing.

His letter reminds me of the afternoon on my book tour with Alien Nation when I staggered into a meeting with Norm and Yeh Ling Ling, after a couple of weeks of fighting off enraged liberals, libertarians, neocons, minority racists, media morons etc. etc. only to be told that my book was useless because I was too uncritical of skilled immigration, especially in Norm's software field. In fact, I am now convinced that Norm is right about skilled immigration. Still, at the time, I was a little crestfallen.  

Of course, we recognize that the policy class is trying to avoid the immigration dimension of 9/11. That's why we ran our policy proposal contest. But some time ago, I counseled a reader despairing over the Mexican amnesty proposal that you never know When Something Will Turn Up. Well, guess what? Something has – and amnesty was failing anyway.

My advice now: once more into the breach, once more.

Libertarians take note: the higher education lobby that Norm reports intimidated Senator Feinstein is itself largely the creation of government subsidy – another example of America financing its own liquidation.

October 16, 2001

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