There is a sense in which current immigration policy is Adolf Hitler’s posthumous revenge on America. The U.S. political elite emerged from the war passionately concerned to cleanse itself from all taints of racism or xenophobia. Eventually, it enacted the epochal Immigration Act (technically, the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments) of 1965.
And this, quite accidentally, triggered a renewed mass immigration, so huge and so systematically different from anything that had gone before as to transform—and ultimately, perhaps, even to destroy—the one unquestioned victor of World War II: the American nation, as it had evolved by the middle of the 20th century.
Now former British Prime Minister Tony Blair confirms my analysis in his biography, A Journey: My Political Life:
We had come to power with a fairly traditional but complacent view of immigration and asylum....We were unprepared for the explosion in asylum claims through 1998 and 1999. Within our first three years, the number of claims trebled, quadrupled even. I'd thought we had a pretty tight framework, but we sent a few placatory signals and this, together with a growing economy and the English language, set off an influx of claimants. Added to that, worldwide immigration flows were increasing. We weren't the only ones with a problem, but we were virtually the only ones with a set of statistics that were even roughly accurate and so were quickly dubbed the asylum capital of Europe. Suddenly from a manageable 30,000 claims per year for asylum, we were looking at 100,000. Moreover, the backlog of claims was scary and getting scarier. The system was utterly incapable of processing the claims.
Essentially, Britain, like all European countries, had inherited the post-war, post-Holocaust system and sentiment on asylum. The painful stories of refugees fleeing from Hitler and the Nazis and being turned away produced a right and proper revulsion. The presumption was that someone who claimed asylum was persecuted and should be taken in, not cast out. It was an entirely understandable emotion in the aftermath of such horror.
Unfortunately it was completely unrealistic in the late twentieth century. The presumption was plainly false; most asylum claims were not genuine. Disproving them, however, was almost impossible. The combination of the courts, with their liberal instinct; the European Convention on Human Rights, with its absolutist attitude to the prospect of returning someone to an unsafe community; and the UN Convention of Refugees, with its context firmly that of 1930s Germany, meant that, in practice, once someone got into Britain and claimed asylum, it was the Devil's own job to return them.
And, of course, many thought it was indeed the work of the Devil to try. The first attempt at tightening the law in 1998 produced a hysterical reaction...[My emphases and, of course, links—PB]
Blair seems to be quite a bit richer and more famous than I am, but no doubt this is temporary.