Two recently published articles point up how confused some conservatives are on the issue of illegal immigration from Mexico. Heather Mac Donald’s article, “A New Latino Underclass,” which appeared in the Dallas Morning News (July 25, 2004), and “A Conservative Manifesto for Solving Border Woes” in The Arizona Republic (Aug. 15, ‘04) seem to be working at cross purposes.
Heather Mac Donald claims that “Hispanic gang violence is spreading across the country,” and is “the sign of a new underclass in the making . . . With gang violence up, social trends down, some fear an immigration influx will overwhelm the tradition of assimilation.” This violence is not happening simply because of illegal immigration. It seems to be an aspect of high Hispanic immigration overall.
Mac Donald claims, “Hispanic youths, whether recent arrivals or birthright American citizens, are developing an underclass culture. Hispanic school dropout rates and teen birthrates are now the highest in the nation. Gang crime is exploding nationally—rising 50 percent from 1999 to 2002—driven by the march of Hispanic immigration east and north across the country. Most worrisome, underclass indicators like crime and single parenthood do not improve over successive generations of Hispanics—they worsen.”
This underclass is not limited to the states bordering Mexico. What was once a border problem has now spread all across the country. Mac Donald notes, “In Chicago, gangs start recruiting kids at age 9, according to criminologists studying policing and social trends in the Windy City. The Chicago Community Policing Evaluation Consortium concluded that gangs have become fully integrated into Hispanic youth culture; even children not in gangs emulate their attitudes, dress, and self-presentation.”
What is even more disturbing about these growing law enforcement problems is that most Democratic politicians in cities like Chicago want to have their immigration cake and eat it, too. They ask the police to crack down on Latino gangs and the growing violence, but they will not empower the police to arrest, detain, and deport the large numbers of illegal aliens flooding into the city. Furthermore, Illinois even encourages illegal immigration by offering tuition wavers and other social services to illegals.
Some argue that these social measures are necessary, and in time the new Hispanic immigrants will assimilate into American society like other immigrants in the past. They point to Italian-Americans as an example. Mac Donald disagrees with this assessment. She writes, “But the analogy is flawed. To begin with, the magnitude of Mexican immigration renders all historical comparisons irrelevant . . . In 2000, Mexicans constituted nearly 30 percent of the foreign-born population in the U. S. But in 1910, Italians made up barely a seventh of the immigrant population. There was no chance that Italian would become the dominant language in any part of the country. By contrast, half of today’s immigrants speak Spanish.”
Assimilation of Mexican immigrants into American society is failing. Mac Donald points out example after example of this. We can conclude from her argument that not only do we have to stop illegal immigration from Mexico, but we may have to stop all immigration from Spanish speaking countries. This must happen soon, or a rift will open in American society that may be healed only by protracted violence.
Mac Donald’s conclusions are why the article in The Arizona Republic is so troubling. Signed by many prominent conservatives like Jeff Bell, Larry Cirignano, Francis Fukuyama, Newt Gingrich, Tamar Jacoby, and Jack Kemp, “A Conservative Manifesto for Solving Border Woes” seems to ignore the facts that Mac Donald has assembled and the conclusions she reaches. It’s as if these conservatives have ears but they do not hear and eyes but they do not see.
The manifesto states, “Conservatives believe in legal immigration. Legal immigrants . . . ”rebuild our urban neighborhoods, reinvigorate our culture, reinforce our patriotic spirit.” Yet, how can they say this in light of Mac Donald’s facts. We know now that most Mexican immigrants are not upwardly mobile, their children drop out of school, their family patterns are fractured, their neighborhoods are in disarray, and they have no desire to assimilate into our culture or even learn English.
When the real solutions to the immigration crisis are presented, the men of this manifesto discard them with no arguments as to why. They write, “Other voices, also claiming to be conservative, propose a very different approach. They suggest we seal the border or radically cut back on the number of foreigners we admit . . . others would go so far as to try to deport the 8 million to 10 million illegal immigrants already here.”
Then they ask, “How, exactly, would we as a nation seal our borders, and how would we man our economy if we did? Who would labor in the fields to get our crops out of the ground? Who would take the low-paying jobs in our hotels and hospitals?” Do they realize what they are asking here? Are they not arguing that conservatives want an American society that pays low wages to hotel and farm workers or that a permanent underclass is essential to American prosperity? I hope not.
Instead of letting free markets prevail in the United States and allowing our economy to adjust to a halt in immigration, these so-called conservatives want the U. S. economy to rely on a continual influx of poor workers who will remain poor and unassimilated over their life time. They write, “Conservatives, both in the White House and Congress, have a better answer. Arizona Reps. Jeff Flake and Jim Kolbe and Sen. John McCain led the way last summer with a groundbreaking legislative proposal . . . The centerpiece . . . (is) a guest worker program combined with a transitional provision for those already here and working . . . ”
The sobering fact of Mac Donald’s argument is that we must not just control the influx of Hispanics into our society if we want to keep America as we know it, we must STOP it all together. The conservatives who signed this manifesto miss the mark when they write, “As it is, our unrealistic policy guarantees that hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants cross the border every year without background checks of any kind.” Documentation of immigrants may be better than the sieve that is our border now, but the best solution may be to put the National Guard there, or even some of those 70,000 troops that are being redeployed from Europe and Asia. The very fact that we are asked by this manifesto to accept porous borders is no solution whatsoever.
How can a manifesto that overlooks the functioning of a free economy and markets, the desire to have a united nation built upon common values and language, and respect for our immigration laws be called a conservative manifesto? That is a claim beyond the imagination of many U. S. citizens who have been harmed by illegal immigration.
A law-abiding American citizen can only imagine that the reason this article appeared is political. It was never intended as a basis for formulating an immigration policy. Perhaps this is why the manifesto claims, “Many Arizonans are angry, and understandably so. They want to send a message to Washington that the status quo cannot continue.”
The politicians and so-called experts behind this manifesto do not want to see the truth nor hear the facts about the real damage illegal and legal Hispanic immigration is doing to our society. I suppose these men hope to attract the Latino vote in November and then hope somehow if we continue to remain deaf and blind, a solution will be found to what is now a crisis not only on our southern border but everywhere in the United States.
I propose that the men who signed this manifesto give up their beltway privileges and walk the streets of Chicago or Los Angeles or spend time on our border with Mexico. After about six months they will conclude that to detect, detain, and deport still remains the best and most truly effective solution to our immigration woes.