PB Immigration Speech
January 18, 2000, 04:19 PM
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What we think Pat Buchanan should have said on January 18, 2000

Peter Brimelow

I want to begin today by reading you some words from the moral leader of our nation, the President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton. Before I do so, I want to remind you that, according to the Democratic Party in the Senate, and the entire media establishment in this country, Bill Clinton is another President who cannot tell a lie - they found him not guilty, as we all know, of perjury.

This is what President Clinton said in 1998, here on the West Coast. He was speaking at Portland State University's Commencement.

He said: "Within five years there will be no majority race in our largest state, California."

[Now I know that according to some counts, that's already happened.]

"In a little more than 50 years" - President went on - "there will be no majority race in the United States."

At this point, his audience broke into spontaneous applause. You and I may not have realized that this objective was part of the liberal Democratic agenda. But apparently it is.

And then the President went on to explain the reason for this change. Because it's not happening spontaneously. He said "The driving force behind our increasing diversity is a new, large wave of immigration. It is changing the face of America."

And the President noted, and I'm quoting:

"No other nation in history has gone through change of this magnitude in so short a time. " Unquote.

Mark that well, ladies and gentlemen. No other nation in history has gone through a change of this magnitude in so short a time.

He's exactly right, by the way. The Census Bureau has been quietly reporting this for several years.

If the American people had been left to themselves, our population would now be stabilizing somewhere around the current level, 260-270 million, because Americans of all races are bringing their family sizes down to replacement level. But Americans are not being left to themselves. The federal government is second-guessing them. It is importing unprecedented numbers of foreigners. As a result, the Census Bureau projects our population may reach 400 million by 2050. Some 130 million of that population will be post-1970 immigrants and their descendents.

And because federal government policy now in effect discriminates against immigrants from the traditional American homelands of Europe, up to ninety percent of that post-1970 increase will be from the Third World.

The President knows all this. He proceeded to draw this conclusion about it in his Commencement Address at Portland State. And I applaud him - for his perception and for his honesty.

He said this:

"What do the changes mean? They can either strengthen and unite us, or they can weaken and divide us. We must decide… But mark my words, unless we handle this well, immigration of this sweep and scope could threaten the bonds of our union."

Unquote.

Ladies and Gentlemen, what an amazing moment. What an amazing story.

Here is the President of the United States. He is warning us the country is being transformed in a way that's unprecedented in the history of the world.

He tells us that this transformation is occurring because of - and only because of - federal government policy. Specifically, it's occurring because of the Immigration Act of 1965, which unleashed mass immigration after a forty-year lull in which there was virtually no immigration at all. And because of the Federal government's subsequent decision not to defend our borders and not to deport those illegal immigrants who have committed the felony of crossing those borders.

And the President tells us that this change, brought about by the federal government's policy of mass immigration, is so dramatic that it could -and I'm quoting again - "threaten the bonds of our union."

And yet I'm willing to bet that very few of you in this room have heard of President Clinton's warning at Portland State. It excited virtually no comment in the media or from the professional politicians.

The Los Angeles Times - guess what? - reported it once under this headline: "Clinton Hails Benefits of Immigration to America."

And the Republican crown princes - well, what do you think? - they said nothing.

Well, what I say is this. When the President of the United States tells us that we have a public policy that could threaten the bonds of our union, we simply do not have the right to remain silent.

We simply do not have the right to shrug and go back to watching a Texas Rangers ballgame or looking for hot stocks in a well-known tip sheet whose name I forget.

We have a civic duty, a patriotic obligation, a moral responsibility, to respond.

Perhaps - possibly - the bonds of our union will not be threatened in our lifetime. But they will be threatened in our children's lifetime. And that was precisely the concern the Founding Fathers had when they said in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution that its purpose was to "secure a more perfect union" to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

That's the purpose of our Constitution - to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

I believe it is the true purpose of politics.

Above all, ladies and gentlemen, we do not have the right to remain silent about this threat that the President rightly says is posed to our union by the federal government's current mass immigration policy if we aspire to be a candidate for the Presidency of the United States - the highest office in the land.

Every man or woman who now aspires to that office - or indeed to any office of public trust - must face this issue of mass immigration. They must explain how they propose to respond.

President Clinton - and I'm going to congratulate him again - has already let us know, with commendable frankness, how the liberal Democrats propose to respond.

They propose to respond by expanding government. They want to retain and even expand racial quotas. They want to retain and even expand bilingual education - which, as you know in California better than anyone, really means foreign language education. They want to retain "speech codes" in universities and expand legislation to cover the area of so-called "hate crimes" - which means things that are already crimes but which can be used as an excuse to terrorize groups they don't like.

And they especially want to retain and expand taxes. It costs a lot of money to subsidize this resettlement of vast numbers of unskilled Third World people in a sophisticated, competitive First World economy.

And we are subsidizing it. About 21% of immigrant households received some type of government aid in 1988, as compared to only 15 percent of native households.

This subsidy didn't exist a hundred years ago, during the last great wave of mass immigration, when maybe some of our relatives came to America. Then, there was no welfare state. When people failed in the workforce, they went back home to Europe. Now they stay.

Which is why the Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman, who knows something about free markets, recently said this - I'm quoting:

"It's just obvious you can't have free immigration and a welfare state."

Unquote. It's just obvious to Milton Friedman. But why isn't it just obvious to the liberal Democrats?

I'm going to say that it is just obvious to them - but they don't care. They want the votes. They want the votes for redistribution and government intervention. The Founding Fathers wanted a more perfect union to secure the blessings of liberty. The liberal Democrats want a more perfect union - or at least a more liberal Democratic union - to eliminate the blessings of liberty.

Their idea of a more perfect union is the National Education Association!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have said that you should and must require that every candidate answer how he or she proposes to respond to this threat that the President rightly says is posed by mass immigration to the bonds of our union.

I urge you to ask them three questions.

First, why are we doing this? Why are we driving up our population by a factor of fifty percent or more? Why are we transforming ourselves?

Second, is there some other way we can achieve whatever our objective is?

Thirdly - and above all - why take the risk?

Let me give my own answer to the first question - why are we doing this?

Incredibly, we are not doing this because anyone ever thought we should. We simply blundered into it. The Immigration Act of 1965 was a typical product of that vast spasm of liberal legislation that comprised Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Like so much else in that misguided period, it was based on false premises, it didn't do what it was supposed to do, and it has proved very difficult to repair - or even discuss.

The Immigration bill's floor manager in the Senate was none other than Teddy Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts. He gave the most explicit assurances about the bill, all of which have proved false, needless to say. Most critically, he said - I'm quoting -

"Our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same…"

Unquote. In fact, of course, we do indeed now have up to and over a million immigrants a year - triple and quadruple the levels of the early 1960s.

President Johnson himself made this prediction, when he signed the bill into law on October 3, 1965:

"This is not a revolutionary bill. It does not effect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives or add importantly to our wealth and power."

In other words, Ladies and Gentlemen, what President Johnson predicted would happen was the exact and diametrical opposite of what his fellow-Democratic President, Bill Clinton, admitted had actually happened when he spoke at Portland State thirty-three years later.

But I will say one thing about President Johnson. He was quite right that mass immigration would not "add importantly to our wealth and power. "

And this brings me to another amazing story - another amazing moment in our national discourse.

In the spring of 1997, just about a year before the President issued his warning at Portland State, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science published a report called The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration.

It was the technical appendix to the Jordan Commission - the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform set up in the early 1990s and headed by the late Barbara Jordan, the former black Congresswoman. The Jordan Commission recommended a substantial cutback in immigration, partly because it found that immigration is hurting the poor and minorities. But tragically Barbara Jordan died prematurely of multiple sclerosis in 1996. And Washington has quietly deep-sixed her recommendations.

Now this is why the National Research Council's report was so amazing. It set out to establish what is the consensus - the consensus - among labor economists working in the field as to what really is the impact of mass immigration on the United States right now. And it found that the consensus among those economists was that the benefits to Americans are virtually non-existent - maybe $1 to $10 billion annually. Utterly insignificant in a 7.5 trillion-dollar economy.

And furthermore, the National Research Council found, even that insignificant benefit is wiped out by the fiscal loss - the taxes Americans have to pay to subsidize this foreign presence in their country.

The NRC found that this fiscal loss amounts to perhaps as much as $15-$20 billion dollars across the entire country, an extra tax of about two or three hundred dollars for every American family.

But of course the fiscal loss is not spread across the entire country. It falls disproportionately upon the state where immigrants concentrate - for example upon you, here in California. The National Research Council commissioned a special study of California. It found that the additional fiscal burden imposed by mass immigration on every American family in California in 1994-5 amounted to no less than $1,174

Ladies and gentlemen, I know this will surprise some of you. It's not what you have been reading in the Wall Street Journal. But let me emphasize: the National Research Council was reporting the consensus among economists in the field. This was not a study by some Washington policy wonk at a think-tank financed by big business or a column by some neoconservative ideologue with an obscure agenda. It's the professional consensus. And it says that America is being transformed for nothing. In fact, we are paying for the privilege.

How many of you knew that the NRC estimates mass immigration is costing you over $1,100 a year?

Well, it's not surprising. The Los Angeles Times mentioned it just once, buried in a story on page A-3 headed as follows: "Immigrants a Net Economic Plus, Study Says."

But least the LA Times mentioned it. The Wall Street Journal has never mentioned it at all. Mass immigration has brought equal-opportunity political correctness to both the liberal and conservative establishments.

So you see, ladies and gentlemen, it's very easy for me as a presidential candidate to answer that second question: is there some other way to achieve this effect?

Yes, there is. We have lots of other ways to spend your $1,100. We could even let you spend it yourselves.

And, as for the third question - why take the risk? - my friends, we should not take the risk.

We shouldn't take it anyway, because there's no reward. But we must not take the risk at all. We should say to the liberal Democrats, and to too many Republicans, like Steve Forbes and George W. Bush: not with our posterity, you don't.

Let my conclude by sketching what I think we must do. The President says mass immigration will face us with a political crisis. The National Research Council mass immigration is facing us with an economic crisis. So we must end these crises, by ending mass immigration - now.

We must have a moratorium on immigration for at least five years.

A moratorium on immigration does not mean absolutely no immigration. It means no net immigration. Every year some 2-300,000 people leave the U.S. An annual inflow of 200,000 to 300,000 could take care of hardship cases and needed skills and still stop driving up the population.

This is not an unusual or unprecedented proposal. Representative Bob Stump of Arizona has introduced a bill in Congress that does essentially this each year for the last several years. This year, he's already got fifty co-sponsors, including seven from California.

The Republican leadership is reported to be getting worried.

And then, during that moratorium, we should have a debate. And the American people should be asked if they want to be transformed. Because they have not been asked - yet.

Ladies and gentlemen, immigration has been a source of strength to this country. And it will be again. America has accepted and it has assimilated immigrants from all over the world. And it will do so again.

But that assimilation has never happened without pauses - occasional time-outs to allow the assimilative process to work. Today, in 1999, we are due for a pause.

Indeed, we're overdue.

We can easily imagine what a rational immigration policy would look like. It would emphasize skills that America needs, rather than the nepotistic connections to whoever has just made it in through the door - the system the 1965 legislation set up. It would favor immigrants who speak our national language so that we would not have to pay, and our children have to be short-changed, while it is being taught in the schools. It would allow us to vary the immigration flow to match labor market conditions.

Again, this is not an unprecedented or unusual proposal. It's pretty much the policy of that paragon of liberalism, Canada.

And I think the federal government should stop monkeying about with the ethnic balance. If we continue with mass immigration, that can only be achieved by making that immigration proportionate to the groups already here, which is what was done in the 1920s. Alternatively, we can simply reduce the inflow.

Because this is the bottom line about immigration. If we can just get the numbers down, all of the problems caused by immigration - higher taxes, educational disruption, freeway congestion, urban sprawl, environmental degradation, job displacement, disease, crime, cultural transformation, the threat to our political union - all of these problems will simply go away.

Again, I emphasize. We're getting nothing in aggregate from this current mass immigration. So why take the risk?

Ladies and gentlemen, I must warn you: if you dare to talk about immigration, you're going to be called all kinds of names. Even today, even after the President has spelled out the risk.

Among other names - among many other names - you're going to be called "mean-spirited." Even though you're the one worrying about posterity, our children and our children's children, and the immigration advocates are the ones who just want cheaper servants in their country clubs and cheaper deckhands on their yachts.

So I'm going to finish by reminding you that there is no mean, no petty principle at stake here.

The great Russian novelist Alexandr Solzhenitsyn said this in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

"The disappearance of nations would impoverish us no less than if all people were made alike, with one character, one face. Nations are the wealth of mankind, they are its generalized personalities: the smallest of them has its own particular colors, and embodies a particular facet of God's design.

My friends, I believe that the United States of America, as we inherited from our parents and without the social engineers inflicting any unprecedented change on it, was such a nation. It embodied - it still embodies - a particular facet of God's design.

To defend that design is a supreme - a holy - cause.