One of the great conservative realists of the 20th Century, Kennan was starkly skeptical about mass immigration. (As is common among immigration skeptics, Kennan had family ties to immigrants: his wife of 74 years was from Norway.) He wrote in his 1994 book Around the Cragged Hill:
"However one cuts it, the question is not whether there are limits to this country's ability to absorb immigration; the question is only where those limits lie, and how they should be determined and enforced—whether by rational decision at this end or by the ultimate achievement of some sort of a balance of misery between this country and the vast pools of poverty elsewhere that now confront it. The inability of any society to resist immigration … is a serious weakness, and possibly even a fatal one, in any national society." (p. 19)
Kennan also said:
"It is obviously easier, for the short run, to draw cheap labor from adjacent pools of poverty...than to find it among one's own people. And to the billions of such prospective immigrants from poverty to prosperity, there is, rightly or wrongly, no place that looks more attractive than the United States. Given its head , and subject to no restrictions, this pressure will find its termination only when the levels of overpopulation and poverty in the United States are equal to those of the countries from which these people are now so anxious to escape."