It's a solid book, a call for a return to the principles, now called "conservative," of the American Founding. And it's a sustained argument against the internal enemies of the nation's future, those who call themselves "Progressives" — an appellation that's always stuck in my craw — and whom Levin refers to as "Statists" throughout.
The book's ten chapters have titles such as "On Prudence and Progress," "On Faith and the Founding," "On Federalism," and "On the Welfare State." I hadn't known this when ordering the book, but there's also a chapter (#9) "On Immigration." Indeed, at about 8,000 words, it's the third-longest chapter.
Upon reaching Chapter Nine, I embarked on it with some trepidation, thinking "When dealing with immigration, bigshots — even conservative ones — always indulge themselves in cliches, bungle rudimentary facts, and think everything is hunky-dory with immigration except for illegal entries at the border."
I was dead wrong. Levin does such a superb job on the subject that if you want to give someone an up-to-date, concentrated primer about our immigration-insanity, something that will take them 30 to 45 minutes to read, copy the 28 pages of Chapter Nine and present them with that.
I also had a simple test that I applied to every review: did it discuss the 1965 Immigration Act? Or did it instead just burble on about the glories of immigration in principle, missing Alien Nation's key pointâ€”that the operations of [the] 1965 Act in practice have resulted in an influx far larger, less skilled and far more dominated by a few Third World sources than anything envisaged at the time. In other words, even if you want a million immigrants a yearâ€”and the American people overwhelmingly do notâ€”why this particular million? [italics in original]Early in the chapter Levin passes the Brimelow test with flying colors, laying out the core disaster (chain migration) of the Hart-Celler Act (even spelling those legislators' names correctly!) and summarizing its consequence:
The historical basis for making immigration decisions was radically altered. The emphasis would no longer be on the preservation of American society and the consent of the governed; now aliens themselves would decide who comes to the United States through family reunification.In fact, Levin passes test after test. Birthright citizenship for the children of illegal aliens? No way, says Levin, pointing out the salient fact that "Native Americans who were also subject to tribal jurisdiction" weren't made citizens by the 14th Amendment. (See here for how all American Indians became U.S. citizens.) The importance of a common language? Levin provides pertinent quotes from St. Augustine and from the all-seeing Alexis de Tocqueville and adds his own to-the-point commentary.
It's worth quoting one especially grand paragraph from late in the chapter on immigration:
For the Conservative, to say that America is a nation of immigrants and no more is to conflate society with immigration and treat them as equivalents. They are not. Immigration can contribute to the well-being of society, but it can also contribute to its demise. The social contract is a compact between and among Americans, not Americans and the world's citizens. The American government governs by the consent of its citizens, not the consent of aliens and their governments. Moreover, American citizens are not interchangeable with all other citizens, American culture is not interchangeable with all other cultures, and the American government is not interchangeable with all other governments. The purpose of immigration policies must be to preserve and improve the American society.The book's Epilogue, "A Conservative Manifesto," includes policy prescriptions on all of the chapter topics. Levin has three prescriptions for immigration, which I'll summarize as:
1. End chain immigration;
2. Enforce all the immigration laws; and
3. End multiculturalism and bilingualism in public institutions; promote assimilation, including making English the official national language.
Do I have any criticisms of the book? Not on immigration, but, as an environmentalist, I think Chapter Eight, "On Enviro-Statism," — the book's second-longest chapter — is glib, and I think Levin, like many conservatives, has effectively forgotten that "conservative" and "conservation" are words with a common root.