Revolution in America|
William Norman Grigg
The New American, February 19, 1996
There's more behind the immigration problem than illegal aliens
"I am not an American. There is nothing about me that is American. I don't want to be an American, and I have just as much right to be here as any of you." Thus spoke one individual identified as a "Latino activist" during a session of the "National Conversation on American Pluralism and Identity," a $4 million project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). NEH Director Sheldon Hackney reacted to this hateful outburst by cooing, "What an American thing to say -- squarely in the great tradition of American dissent. He was affirming his American identity even as he was denying it."
An Ethnic Babel
From Hackney's perspective, there are none so American as those who hate this country. Unfortunately, a similar concept of the American identity governs our present immigration policies. Guided by the dogma of "diversity," the political establishment has rejected the traditional goal of assimilation, choosing instead to create a Babel of querulous ethnic interest groups squabbling over government largesse and united only through the political power of the state. Illustrations of the public impact of our immigration policies abound:
- The Sacramento Bee reports, "Nearly one in four students in California's public schools -- more than 1.25 million kids --understands little or no English."
- In his book Dictatorship of Virtue, New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein describes School District 24 in the borough of Queens, New York, "where 27,000 students are said to speak eighty-three languages. One-third of these students are not fluent in English, leading to one of the most ambitious bilingual education programs in the country." New York's public institutions presuppose a complete failure of immigrants to assimilate: Driver's license exams are offered in 22 languages, and multilingual ballots permit those who have not mastered the language of our public institutions the opportunity to help shape public policy.
- In Luna County, New Mexico, Mexican children are bused across the border from Palomas, Mexico to schools in Columbus and Deming at a cost of $1 million annually. In 1993, a lawsuit was filed by Luna County residents to stop the practice, which they contend is an untenable burden on local schools and taxpayers and a violation of the state constitution. The lawsuit was immediately condemned by political leaders on both sides of the border. Columbus Mayor Phoebe Watson defended the subsidized education of Mexican children as a moral obligation: "We believe in humanity here, not laws." Palomas Mayor Julieta Avina has mastered the language of victimology: "To me, the lawsuit is racist, and I think this issue could lead to international problems along this part of the border." As for New Mexico residents who object to subsidizing Mexican children, Avina tells them to find some other place to live: "If they don't like Mexico they ought to move to Canada."
- The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court recently struck down the English Language Amendment to Arizona's state constitution, which requires "the state and all political subdivisions to act in English and in no other language." The court held, in effect, that there is a First Amendment "right" to "language diversity," and that it is unconstitutional to require public officials to conduct the business of government in English. The plaintiff in the case was state insurance claims processor Maria-Kelley Yniguez, who had been producing some of her reports in Spanish -- in spite of the fact that her supervisor understood only English. Federal Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who wrote the majority opinion, insisted that in such circumstances the burden is on the supervisor to learn Spanish, rather than the employee to learn English.
- In 1986, Nicaraguan defector Alberto Suhr related to U.S. reporters what he and other Sandinista cadres had been told by Tomas Borge, the Sandinista interior minister. Borge, a ruthless henchman trained by Castro's DGI, instructed his comrades: "We have Nicaragua, soon we will have El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Mexico. One day, tomorrow or 15 years from now, we're going to take 5 to 10 million Mexicans and they're going to have one thing in mind -- cross the border, go into Dallas, go into Houston, go into New Mexico, go into San Diego, and each one has embedded in his mind the idea of killing 10 Americans."
When Borge made that boast, he already had a sizeable fifth column of propagandists, foot soldiers, and narco-terrorists operating within the United States. Since then, several million more illegal aliens have entered the U.S., the Communist EZLN "Zapatista" forces in Mexico's Chiapas state have declared war on Mexico's corrupt and bankrupt ruling PRI regime, the Mexican economy has imploded, the drug cartels have taken control over much of Mexico, and the militant "Aztlan" movement has experienced a remarkable resurgence in U.S. Hispanic communities.
"[J]ust as the American nation was made with unusual speed," warns immigration reform advocate Peter Brimelow, "so it is perfectly possible that it could be un-made." Indeed, America's enemies understand the revolutionary implications of our suicidal immigration policies. Marxist theoretician Mike Davis, author of the book Prisoners of the American Dream, has written of "a prospective alliance of non-white Americans and Third World revolutionaries, all taking their marching orders from white Leninists." According to Davis, unassimilated immigrants are the "real weak link" in America's political system:
This is a nation within a nation, society within a society, that alone possesses the numerical and positional strength to undermine the American empire from within.... [T]his "nation within a nation" can act to bring "socialism" to North America by virtue of a combined hemispheric process of revolt that overlaps boundaries and interlaces movements.
Davis' prediction is coming to pass in California, where the so-called "Immigrant Rights" movement recruits immigrants -- both legal and illegal -- into revolutionary politics.
The Privilege of Citizenship
America is not yet entirely "un-made," nor is our national suicide through open borders a preordained fate. To understand how the present state of affairs came about, and how it may be remedied, it is necessary to review America's traditional immigration policy.
Throughout its history, America's philosophy of God-given individual rights and institutions of ordered liberty have attracted immigrants from around the globe. However, from our nation's founding until 1965, American policymakers understood that immigration is a privilege, not an unalienable right -- and that this nation, like every sovereign nation, may properly regulate immigration in its own interests. Dr. Charles Rice, a professor of law at Notre Dame University, observes that "with respect to nonresident aliens, their admission to the country is subject to the virtually plenary power of Congress."
This is not to say that Congress may regard aliens as "non-persons"; rather, it is to acknowledge that such people do not possess the procedural rights and immunities which are enjoyed by American citizens, and that their admission to this country is contingent on their qualifications for productive citizenship. In his report on immigration to the First Congress, James Madison urged that America "welcome every person of good fame [who] really means to incorporate himself into our society, but repel all who will not be a real addition to the wealth and strength of the United States."
America's political system, economy, and cultural institutions are derivative of Anglo-European traditions; accordingly, American immigration policies traditionally favored English-speaking immigrants from Europe who could be readily assimilated into our society. Additionally, during the last "great wave" of immigration (which lasted roughly from 1890 to 1920), the absence of a welfare state made assimilation a necessity. Peter Brimelow estimates, "At the turn of the century, 40 percent of all immigrants went home, basically because they failed in the work force." However, millions of immigrants succeeded in America's economy and embraced American ideals.
Even before the advent of the welfare state, however, social pressures attendant to the "great wave" created support for tighter immigration controls. The Immigration acts of 1921 and 1924 were intended to preserve a stable status quo by imposing a national origins quota system. The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 retained the basic structure of the 1924 measure, while adding important provisions intended to prevent the admission of known subversives to America's shores.
However, the passage of the Immigration Reform Act of 1965 infused an entirely different set of values and priorities into our basic immigration law. Simply put, the effect of the 1965 immigration law was to define American immigration policies by our nation's supposed obligation to the rest of the world, rather than by a sound definition of our own national interest. As Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) stated during the debate over the 1965 law, the measure assumed that "the relevant community is not merely the nation, but all men of goodwill."
One expressed intention of the measure was proportionately to increase immigration from non-Western nations; this was accomplished by abolishing the national origins quota system. Furthermore, although the formal immigration quota was raised only slightly, the measure allowed for theoretically unlimited "non-quota" immigration for refugees, asylum seekers, and relatives of naturalized citizens for purposes of "family reunification" (also known as "chain immigration").
Many critics of the 1965 measure predicted that its passage would result in a torrential surge of unassimilable immigrants, resulting in profound social dislocations. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who served as Senate floor manager for S. 500 (the Senate version of the measure), parried such objections by offering these assurances of what the bill supposedly would not do:
First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same.... Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset.... Contrary to the charges in some quarters, S. 500 will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and economically deprived nations of Africa and Asia.... In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think.
Availing himself of a familiar weapon from the rhetorical arsenal of collectivism, Kennedy accused critics of the 1965 law of acting on bigoted and "un-American" motives: "The charges I have mentioned are highly emotional, irrational, and with little foundation in fact. They are out of line with the obligations of responsible citizenship. They breed hate of our heritage...."
Had he the capacity for honesty, Senator Kennedy today would admit that critics of the 1965 law have been vindicated in every particular, and that their objections were based on a sound understanding of the measure, rather than on malign motives.
Post-'65 Tidal Wave
As Peter Brimelow observes, "Every one of Senator Kennedy's assurances has proven false. Immigration levels did surge upward. They are now running at around a million a year, not counting illegals. Immigrants do come predominantly from one area -- some 85 percent of the 16.7 million legal immigrants arriving in the United States between 1968 and 1993 came from the Third World: 47 percent from Latin America and the Caribbean; 34 percent from Asia.... Also, immigrants did come disproportionately from one country -- 20 percent from Mexico." Nearly two million immigrants arrived in 1991 alone, and the present rate is at least one million immigrants per year -- a figure which exceeds the number of immigrants admitted by the rest of the industrial nations combined.
Taken by itself, such an influx would have enormously unsettling social, cultural, and economic effects. However, when coupled with the welfare state and racial spoils system which presently exist in this country, the post-1965 immigrant wave has proven to be uniquely disruptive. Liberal commentator Michael Lind, who does not reject the welfare/affirmative action state in principle, points out, "As a proportion of the U.S. population, the groups eligible for racial preference benefits are rapidly growing, thanks to mass immigration from Latin America and Asia."
While earlier European immigrants were under the necessity of assimilating quickly, Lind observes that "today's Hispanic and Asian immigrants are tempted by a variety of rewards for retaining their distinctive racial identities, even their different languages":
The moment a Mexican or Chinese immigrant becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States, he can qualify for special consideration in admission to colleges and universities, at the expense of better-qualified white Americans; expect and receive special treatment in employment; apply for minority business subsidies denied to his neighbors; and even demand to have congressional district lines redrawn to maximize the likelihood of electing someone of his race or ethnic group....
These perks and privileges are sources of ethnic tensions and considerable public expense. In a 1993 study, economist Donald Huddle of Rice University documented that "immigrants cost the American taxpayer more than $42.5 billion in 1992 alone" for services such as subsidized education, Medicaid, health and welfare services, bilingual education, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Should the present immigration policies remain in place, Huddle asserted, the cost of welfare subsidies to immigrants between 1993 to 2002 would average "$67 billion per year in 1992 dollars, a net total of $668.5 billion after taxes over the decade."
Breakdown at the Border
Beyond the problems created by legal immigration are those precipitated by the breakdown of the "thin green line" -- the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and its Border Patrol, which are supposed to maintain the integrity of our borders against illegal immigration. "Illegal immigrants come from all over the world," reported the November 26, 1993 Los Angeles Times. "They come in rickety boats. They arrive on jetliners with valid business, student or tourist visas and then ignore the expiration date and stay here illegally. They enter on forged documents or fraudulent employment visas. They contract sham marriages to U.S. citizens." Most illegal immigrants enter the U.S. across our 2,000-mile border with Mexico.
How many illegals enter the U.S. every year? "We don't know --that's the bottom line," INS spokesman Robert Stiev told THE NEW AMERICAN. "It's almost as if we were asked, 'How many fish didn't you catch?'" An INS study in 1992 estimated that 3.4 million illegal immigrants had taken up residence in the United States, with another 300,000 arriving every year. To stem this tide, the Border Patrol has been assigned fewer than 5,000 agents and allocated a budget of $584 million -- a pitiful pool of resources when compared, for example, to the 32,000 U.S. servicemen and $2 billion to $3 billion which has been set aside to patrol the artificial borders of the "nation" of Bosnia.
When President Jimmy Carter took office in 1977, he appointed immigrant "rights" activist Leonel J. Castillo to head the INS. Castillo adopted the grotesque euphemism "undocumented workers" as the official INS designation for illegal immigrants. In an address to the Border Patrol Academy in June 1977, Castillo described border guards as "the front-line soldiers in President Carter's war against human rights violators. Possibly no other government agency has a greater opportunity to demonstrate to the world our concern for human rights than those of us in the immigration service."
In April 1977, President Carter announced that his vision of "human rights" would require some variety of general amnesty for illegal immigrants. In August of that same year he submitted to Congress a framework for immigration reform which included various forms of amnesty for illegal aliens, as well as penalties for employers who knowingly hired illegals and a modest increase in funding for the INS and Border Patrol. When those proposals were rejected by Congress, Carter assembled a commission headed by Reverend Theodore Hesburgh with a mandate to create another framework for immigration reform.
In May 1981, the Hesburgh Commission issued its "findings," which essentially regurgitated the Carter Administration's rejected proposals: A general amnesty for illegal aliens, coupled with employer sanctions and a modest increase in funding for border enforcement. These recommendations were incorporated into the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which was sold to an anxious American public as a definitive "solution" to the crisis of illegal immigration. Alas, like so many other "solutions" urged upon us by the ruling Establishment, the IRCA exacerbated the problem it was supposedly intended to fix.
On May 5, 1987, the INS opened 107 "legalization centers" across the country to begin granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens residing here. Under the provisions of the IRCA, illegal aliens who could demonstrate continuous residence in the U.S. since January 1, 1982 had one year to apply for legal resident status, and were eligible for citizenship within five years. This was an unforgivable affront to law-abiding Americans, including immigrants who had patiently undergone the trying process of acquiring legal citizenship. It was also an act of capitulation which emboldened millions of others to violate our borders in anticipation of similar amnesties in the future.
Among the INS agents who helped implement the IRCA's amnesty provisions was William King, a former chief of the Border Patrol and the first director of the Border Patrol Academy. "IRCA was supposed to be a three-legged stool," King recalled to THE NEW AMERICAN. "A lot of us who had served in the Border Patrol weren't happy with amnesty, but we thought it might be a good trade-off in exchange for employer sanctions and border enhancement."
However, observes King, the only tangible result of the IRCA has been a pool of "several hundred thousand people who have broken our laws who now have green cards and are becoming eligible for citizenship. And once they do, they can begin the process of 'chain immigration' by bringing in their relatives."
Writing in 1782, Thomas Jefferson expressed misgivings about the potential impact of immigration on American society. He was concerned that immigrants would "bring with them the principles of the government they leave" and that "their principles, along with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us in the legislation."
The increasingly visible enclaves of undigested Asian, African, and Latin American immigrants which have sprung up in California, New York, Illinois, Florida, and elsewhere testify of Jefferson's prescience.
Immigration reform advocate Richard Estrada observes that unrestrained immigration is producing "a leveling down of American society, which in turn could be accompanied by an intensification of tribalist politics, ethnic and linguistic separatism, and finally the further debasement of the coin of individual initiative, freedom, and liberty." The fissiparous tendencies which concern Estrada are most pronounced along America's border with Mexico.
According to Henry Cisneros, the Clinton Administration's Secretary of Health and Human Services, the effective breakdown of the border between the U.S. and Mexico is resulting in "the Hispanization of America.... It is already happening and it is inescapable." Less sanguine observers would refer to this development as an invasion. While some might shrink from using the term, "invasion" was the word used to describe the Mexican exodus to the U.S. in a 1982 article published in Excelsior, Mexico's equivalent of the New York Times. In "The Great Invasion: Mexico Recovers Its Own," Excelsior columnist Carlos Loret de Mola examined the cultural and political implications of uncontrolled Mexican immigration to the U.S.:
A peaceful mass of people ... carries out slowly and patiently an unstoppable invasion, the most important in human history. You cannot give me a similar example of such a large migratory wave by an ant-like multitude, stubborn, unarmed, and carried on in the face of the most powerful and best-armed nation on earth.... [Neither] barbed-wire fences, nor aggressive border guards, nor campaigns, nor laws, nor police raids against the undocumented, have stopped this movement of the masses that is unprecedented in any part of the world.
According to Loret, the migrant invasion "seems to be slowly returning [the southwestern United States] to the jurisdiction of Mexico without the firing of a single shot, nor requiring the least diplomatic action, by means of a steady, spontaneous, and uninterrupted occupation." The effects of Mexico's immigration invasion were even then visible in Los Angeles, which Loret cheekily referred to as "the second largest Mexican city in the world."
Loret's essay invoked the irredentist fantasy that California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas -- the states created in the territory obtained from Mexico through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 -- compose "Aztlan," the mythical homeland of the Aztec Indians, and that those states must be wrested from the United States in order to create a new Chicano homeland. More than a quarter of a century ago, political analyst Patty Newman warned that "the basic concept of El Plan de Aztlan is endorsed by most of the major Mexican-American organizations on campus and off, liberal and supposedly conservative." Believers in the Aztlan legend insist upon the indivisibility of "la Raza" (the Mexican race) and the need to abolish the border between the U.S. and Mexico; one of their preferred slogans is, "We didn't cross the border -- the border crossed us."
The Aztlan cult, which is composed of people who unabashedly hate the United States, is the loudest and most insistent element of the immigrant lobby in California. Inebriated with a sense of righteous victimhood, entranced by fascist myths of a heroic racial past, and equipped with a paramilitary auxiliary, the "Brown Berets de Aztlan," devotees of the Aztlan cult are rapidly extending their influence within California's Hispanic population, particularly among students in the university system.
Although the literature of radical Chicano activists is replete with criticism of the Mexican government and praise for the anti-government Zapatista insurrection, the Mexican establishment is actually pursuing the same ends which define the Chicano movement in the U.S.: The effective eradication of the border and the political consolidation of Mexicans within this country. The December 10th New York Times reported that the Mexican regime "is campaigning hard for an amendment to the Mexican Constitution that would allow Mexicans living in the United States to retain Mexican nationality rights even when they adopt American citizenship."
Like their supposed enemies in the radical Chicano movement, Mexican officials do not shy away from expressions of racial and ethnic solidarity with Hispanics residing in this country. During a recent speech to Mexican-American politicians in Dallas, Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo declared, "You're Mexicans -- Mexicans who live north of the border." Jose Angel Gurria, Mexico's foreign minister, has explained that the "double nationality amendment [is] designed to stress our common language ... culture, [and] history" across national borders. The proposed amendment is intended to create a political fifth column under the influence of the Mexican regime. As Rodolfo O. de la Garza, a professor of government at the University of Texas, observes, "As Mexican-Americans become more powerful, the Mexican government wants them to defend Mexican interests here in the United States."
The next logical step would be to extend the voting franchise to immigrants who are not citizens -- a possibility which is being openly discussed by open borders activists in California and elsewhere. Jorge Castenada, an influential Mexican intellectual and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, defends the idea in his new book The Mexican Shock: Its Meaning for the U.S.:
Immigration from Mexico is likely to continue regardless of what enthusiasts of free trade, peace in Central America, or the closing of the border may say or do. The only realistic way to alter the negative effect of Mexican influence on California, then, is to change the nature of its origin by legalizing immigration [that is, extending another amnesty to illegals] and giving foreigners the right to vote in state and local elections.
In his book Importing Revolution: Open Borders and the Radical Agenda, William Hawkins of the Hamilton Center for National Strategy observes, "Non-citizen voting for local government has already been implemented in the liberal suburban enclave of Tacoma Park, Maryland.... Nearby in Washington, DC, City Councilman Frank Smith has endorsed legislation to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections in the nation's capital." Jamin Raskin, a law professor at American University, has noted, "Increasingly, advocates for immigrants in New York -- as in Washington, Los Angeles and several smaller cities across the nation -- have begun exploring the sensitive issue of securing voting privileges for immigrants who are not citizens." Raskin insists that "noncitizen voting is the suffrage movement of the decade" and predicts:
[I]f picked up by large cities -- like Los Angeles, Washington, New York and Houston -- it could strengthen American democracy by including in the crucial processes of local government many hundreds of thousands of people born elsewhere.... There are 10 million legal immigrants who are not United States citizens. In number, at least, they represent a potential political force of some diversity and dimension, particularly in such cities as New York.
The enfranchisement of foreigners would lead to the literal "un-making" of America as a sovereign, independent nation. While such a prospect is presently shocking, it is not in principle significantly different from the logic of our post-1965 immigration policy. After all, if everyone has an unconditional "right" to come to America and feast at the welfare trough, why should there be any defining advantages to citizenship? Why not eliminate our borders altogether, and extend all of the rights and privileges of citizenship to anyone who happens to occupy our nation at any given time?
The Targeted Class
Although there are many immigration activists who are motivated by sincere -- if often unreliable -- humanitarian impulses, there are many others who seek to use unassimilated immigrants, including illegal aliens, as a political resource.
William Hawkins observes, "For the alienated radical, there is only one truth over all time: America is a bad country and its 'conservative' native-born are a defective people; only distant lands are on the road of progress; only other peoples are intimate with social justice."
But the radical left has not created the immigration revolution by itself. Its indispensable ally has been the political Elite, which is variously known as the "Establishment," the "Overclass," or the "New Class." In his book The Revolt of the Elites, the late Christopher Lasch, a widely respected author and social critic, lamented: "Those who control the international flow of money and information, preside over the philanthropic foundations and institutions of higher learning, manage the instruments of cultural production and thus set the terms of public debate ... have lost faith in the values, or what remains of them, of the West."
Many of the most influential members of the Elite, Lasch observed, "have ceased to think of themselves as Americans in any important sense, implicated in America's destiny for better or for worse"; as a result, they are "deeply indifferent to the prospect of American decline." Like the Marxist radical network referred to by Hawkins, the Establishment heartily reviles "Middle America," a term which "has come to symbolize everything that stands in the way of progress": patriotism, religious devotion, strong family commitments, and conventional morality.
The Establishment is similarly antagonistic to national sovereignty. As Peter Brimelow points out, the Establishment "dislikes the nation-state for exactly the same reason it dislikes the free market: both are machines that run of themselves, with no need for New Class-directed government intervention." "From the point of view of the members of the American New Class," continues Brimelow, "immigration is manna from heaven. It gives them endless excuses to intervene in society." Furthermore, "the self-interest of this New Class is internationalism: cooperation with the New Classes of other countries above the heads of their population."
Defeating the designs of the "New Class" and its radical allies will require that Americans of all ethnic backgrounds who understand our shared heritage -- and cherish our free institutions -- act with dispatch to restore our borders.