Tamar Jacoby Does 9/11 Damage Control At Reader's Digest.
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Ever since Sept. 11, the Open Borders Lobby, slobbering for ever larger levels of immigration, has had to stay under the blanket for a change. When 19 aliens who entered the country perfectly legally carried out the bloodiest act of mass murder in history, even the lobby and its die-hards had to button their lips about the glories of the mass immigration that's transforming much of the nation into an oversized Third World barrio. 

But now, as the rage and fear from Sept. 11 begin to fade, the Open Borders Lobby is sneaking back—as last week's House vote for amnesty suggests. A number of recent opinion pieces in major newspapers have started muttering that we shouldn't close the borders and stop accepting every immigrant that can creep across them. The lobby knows perfectly well that's exactly what the vast majority of Americans want and that they have unanswerable reasons for wanting it. 

Hence, the lobby is dredging up every stale argument for immigration it can find. The latest contribution to what passes for scholarship among the Open Borders nuts is an article titled "Don't Slam the Door" in the March Reader's Digest by neo-conservative Tamar Jacoby.   

Miss Jacoby kicks off her polemic by citing post-9-11 demands to close the border. "Phones rang off the hook at radio call-in shows," she writes breathlessly, "angry messages flooded Internet chat rooms," and even congressmen—can you imagine?—"soon joined in, demanding that the country stop admitting foreign students, freeze all visas for six months, even station troops and tanks on the borders." 

Well, of course, that's what you do when the country's being invaded, as it was well before Sept. 11. It's just that many Americans only began to get really worried about it on that date. Miss Jacoby also cites a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll that found 65 percent of the public "favored 'temporarily sealing U.S. borders and stopping all immigration'" until the war against terrorism was over. 

It's precisely because a real opportunity to control immigration may be developing that Miss Jacoby and the Open Borders Lobby have launched their propaganda crusade to thwart the new consensus. The tactics they're using include the most brazen smears of anyone who disagrees as "bigots" and "racists," coupled with even more brazen claims that the Open Borders zealots are the ones who support "responsible" immigration control. 

Miss Jacoby contents herself with variations on the worn-out theme of the lobby that American economic well-being depends on immigration. Almost every claim she makes is open to doubt, and she never bothers to tell the reader the facts about the costs that mass immigration imposes. 

She quotes a couple of store owners in Laredo, Texas, to prove that "sealing the border" would be "a major, major blow" to local businesses. No doubt it would, but "sealing the border" doesn't mean literally sealing it—not letting anyone cross, even for day-to-day shopping or work. Someone needs to explain to Miss Jacoby that "sealing the border" is an expression that means stopping immigration; shoppers and day workers in border areas aren't immigrants, and no one proposes sealing them out. 

Then there's the ancient chestnut about how immigrants take jobs that Americans won't. Maybe so, but curtailing immigration would open rural jobs to native labor now largely locked in cities through welfare. When immigration was cut off in the 1920s, black workers in the South went north to take the industrial jobs for which immigrants were no longer available

She then recounts the usual tales of woe from huge agribusiness firms like IBP Inc. about how "we don't have enough people in Nebraska and Iowa to process the food we raise" without alien cheap labor (excuse me, "immigrants seeking to make a new life," as Miss Jacoby calls them). But two American workers are currently suing IBP for artificially depressing wages by hiring illegal immigrants. Miss Jacoby conveniently omits to tell us that. Maybe the suit was launched after she went to press. Maybe also she doesn't care. 

She also doesn't bother to tell us about how both illegal and legal immigration helps depress wages for American workers, or about the costs mass immigration imposes through population growth, taxes, welfare, crime and its punishment, health problems, etc. In the tidy little—and totally imaginary—happy land of the Open Borders Lobby, mass immigration has no downside whatsoever. 

Americans who know better now have a chance to force lawmakers to control immigration effectively for once. We'll see who prevails—Americans who know the truth about immigration, or the lobby that wants cheap labor and open borders forever, regardless of the risks and the costs, and is willing to bend the truth to stay in business.


March 18, 2002

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