Recent signs suggest that some immigration enthusiasts, disturbed by the visible effects of four decades of virtually uncontrolled immigration to this country, are beginning to rethink their position. (There are quite a few closet anti-enthusiasts around, some in high places and with large reputations.)
Perhaps it's beginning to be OK again to discuss immigration - so long as you don't really say much of anything in the process. See, for instance, The Washington Times' Helle Bering's recent "Immigration Paradox": an elliptical but essentially well-intentioned essay – even if she does misspell Peter Brimelow's name!
But whether or not George II makes the cut as Education President, he may be shaping up as the Immigration President. Certainly the auspices are not favorable. First there was the inaugural trip to Mexico in which the President didn't exactly encourage Vicente Fox to believe he was prepared to acquiesce in what American Patrol's Glenn Spencer has called Mexico's "demographic warfare" against the United States, but didn't exactly discourage him, either. Nor did he throw cold water on the guest-worker plan put forward in Mexico by three American senators. Instead, he and Fox agreed on the need to develop an "orderly framework for migration."
Now, the White House has released its U.S. Budget Proposal whose Section 14 could point to future bad news for immigration-control - and for the nation.
"The United States is a Nation of immigrants," the section—inauspiciously—begins. Yet - horrors! - immigrants' first experience upon arriving on these shores today is often one of "frustration and anxiety."
We can't have that, can we?
And so, "The Administration believes that legal immigrants should be greeted with open arms, rather than endless lines." It must be "responsive to [ALL?] those who seek [my italics] to immigrate to this country by legal means, and to those who have emigrated and now seek to become U.S. citizens." The Administration proposes a universal six-month standard (reduced from three years plus) for processing, in a "culture of respect," all immigrant applications, at cost of a mere $500 million.
Second, of course, to being a nation of immigrants we are also a nation of laws. So those immigrants who come here illegally must be instructed to stick one foot back over the Mexican border, then try all over again as legal applicants within that culture of respect. To this end, the President's budget requests $75 million to fund 570 new border agents per year in 2002 and 2003.
Finally, in the spirit of "creating an INS Structure for the Future," the proposal calls for splitting the agency into two, one entrusted exclusively with "service" with a smile (goodbye frustration, anxiety!), the other with "enforcement" ("go back where you came from; come in by the front door next time; have a good day!").
Read Section Fourteen and ask yourself: Does this imply anything short of "All legal applicants to the U.S. of A. will be admitted to the country within no less than six weeks' time?" (Talk about "endless lines!") No mention anywhere of quotas, ceilings, restrictions, qualifications, or any other discouraging word.
Meanwhile, President Fox's Foreign Minister is at it again - in Brussels this time, insisting that globalization is synonymous with mass migration (i.e. open borders) and besides, there's nothing Western governments can do about it anyway.
Could President Bush actually be in agreement with him on that?
Now, following the recent earthquake in El Salvador, the Bush administration is offering Temporary Protected Status to any Salvadoran to have arrived here before February 13, 2001. An estimated four hundred thousand illegal immigrants from that country may remain legally in the United States for at least eighteen months and are eligible to apply for temporary work permits. Though the INS estimates that "only" 150,000 will apply, numbers are not the sole issue here. (And if you believe this protected status is really temporary, I have a horse with wings to sell you for a million bucks.)
What sense does this make given the breakdown in the returns from last year's presidential election that George W. Bush nearly lost, due in no small measure to this country's existing Hispanic citizenry voting overwhelmingly for Al Gore? Is it a death wish, or what?
Just as certain of the American elite are beginning to see the light in respect of immigration and its perils, the Republican Party seems bent on playing the immigrationist and ethnic cards, thus endangering its own prospects and the future of the nation as well. The Bush administration, it seems, is stuck in the Clintonite mindset that was also very much that of the 1990s, the difference being that immigrationism worked for the Democrats, if not for the country.
What next to expect from this administration when it comes to ethnic pandering? If Vice President Dick Cheney resigns for health reasons (or dies), look for Colin Powell to be bumped up to the office of Veep, while Condoleeza Rice succeeds him as Secretary of State.
To the Republican mind, such a rearrangement would be regarded as what little boys of a couple of generations ago would have called a fake-out on the Democrats. But it won't help the Republican Party with Jesse Jackson, or the rest of black America, at all.
Or the rest of any recognizable America, for that matter.
Chilton Williamson Jr. is the author of The Immigration Mystique: America's False Conscience and an editor and columnist for Chronicles Magazine, where he writes the The Hundredth Meridian column about life in the Rocky Mountain West.
March 07, 2001