Thomas Jackson, American Renaissance, January 2000
The California Cauldron: Immigration and the Fortunes of Local Communities, William A.V. Clark, The Guilford Press, 1998, 224 pp.
William Clark is one of those rare scholars able to look at decades of Third-World immigration without being hypnotized by slogans about diversity or terrified by imagined charges of “racism.” Prof. Clark, who teaches in the geography department at the University of California at Los Angeles, has managed to frame the immigration question with a clarity that almost never disturbs the fog that has settled upon our universities: “[T]he principal issue confronting California today is whether this polyglot society can work.” Although Prof. Clark refrains from taking a position either way, his careful, scholarly account of how California is changing leaves little doubt about how this question should be answered. He even gently points towards the unmentionable core of the problem: “Clearly, non-European groups have assimilated slowly, if at all and this lack of assimilation has raised questions about the effectiveness of assimilation for integrating different races and ethnicities into the larger American society.” Within the pages of this book are more than enough data to demonstrate the insanity of our immigration policies — which no doubt helps explain why The California Cauldron has disappeared practically without a trace.
Although Prof. Clark discusses many aspects of immigration, his primary analysis is on three areas: the ethno-linguistic balance, the impact on education, and the increase in poverty. He makes it clear that immigration means the importation of huge social problems that may be impossible to solve. As he puts it, immigration may be ensuring for California a “future that contains all the elements of an impoverished underclass.”
This future underclass comes from many countries, but the primary source is Mexico. As Prof. Clark points out, in 1950 Mexico had only 26 million people; in 1996, it had a population of 96 million — despite having shipped off millions of its excess to the United States. Now half of all Mexicans have relatives in the United States, and Mexico all by itself has fueled an astonishing population boom in California. In 1970, before waves of Third-World immigration, there were only 20 million Californians and more than three quarters were white. In 1999 whites became a minority (see graph on previous page), and by 2025 there could be as many as 50 million Californians, with whites an elderly, dwindling, hated minority. About one third of the annual immigrant crop of nearly one million arrives in California, and about three fifths of them go to the Los Angeles area. As Prof. Clark points out, “this concentration, more than any other issue, raises the question of the nature of a nation-state and the “rule of law.’”
Even without further immigration, the Hispanic future of the state is virtually assured. Between 1975 and 1995, the share of births to Spanish-speaking Californians went from 20 percent to 46 percent. In 22 of the state’s counties Hispanics account for more than 75 percent of all births. This is due to fertility as much as to brute numbers, since foreign-born Hispanic women with less than a 9th grade education have an average of 4.7 children each, while whites are not even replacing themselves. Hispanics account for almost two-thirds of the births to teen-aged mothers, and Hispanic teen-agers now have children at nearly the black rate, which is well over twice the rate for whites.
The percentage of foreign-born Californians is three to four times higher than that of the nation as a whole, and in Los Angeles County, nearly 60 percent of the births are to foreign-born women. In 1993, no less than 45 percent of all births in the state were to mothers born outside the country. Many of these mothers are here illegally; Prof. Clark estimates that about one Californian in 15 — about two million people — are illegals.
Straining the Schools
The combination of a sharp shift in the population to non-white, along with growth at nearly sub-Saharan rates has put a huge strain on California schools. Seventy percent of the students in the Los Angeles school system — second largest in the nation after New York City’s — are now Hispanic, and 57 percent are classified as having limited English proficiency (LEP). One quarter of all the students in the state are LEP. Being born in the United States is no guarantee that a Mexican child speaks English well; 62.5 percent of US-born Hispanics speak Spanish at home. Until a 1998 voter initiative sharply curtailed bilingual programs, the state was spending $300 million a year on them. Prof. Clark notes that even though bilingualism slowed assimilation, it could not be criticized for fear of provoking charges of “racism.”
About half of California’s Hispanics fail to graduate from high school, but this is a family tradition. Only 24 percent of immigrants from Mexico have the equivalent of a high school degree, and virtually none is a college graduate. This helps put California at the bottom of the education league, with the highest percentage of high-school dropouts of any American state, and the smallest percentage of college graduates.
Prof. Clark points out that per-student spending in California, which used to be one of the highest in the country, is now near the bottom. Teachers thus have few means with which to teach the barely educable: “[W]e are witnessing a serious problem in the ability of inner-city school systems to receive and educate the flows of new immigrants.” Because children are not assimilating culturally, linguistically, or professionally, “they are as much a matter of concern as the flow of new immigrants.”
Needless to say, many immigrants are poor. Prof. Clark writes that Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants tend to have educations and good jobs, but “a very large number of migrants have very low earnings, and their wages will not improve during their working lives.” In particular: “[I]mmigrants from Mexico and Central America are not only at the bottom of the social and economic ladder; they are farther from the top than were earlier arrivals from the same geographical areas. They will find it even more difficult to move up the ladder in the coming decades.”
Prof. Clark gives the arresting example of Mexican immigrants who were aged 25 to 35 when they came during the period of 1965 to 1970. On arrival they made about half as much as native-born Americans. During the 1970s, they narrowed the earnings gap by only two percent, and then during the next decade lost another five percent, to put them at less than half the native wage. This means that over a 20-year period, they started out behind and fell further back.
The more recent the immigrant, the more likely he is to be poor and to have little education, with the result that almost half of all Hispanic children are living in poverty. From 1980 to 1990, 94 percent of the increase in welfare cases was accounted for by Hispanics and Asians, five percent by blacks, and only one percent by whites. Many Asian immigrants have the habit of bringing over their elderly parents and putting them on public assistance.
Prof. Clark notes that in macroeconomic terms, the wages of laborers — janitors, restaurant help, construction workers — are declining. Immigration has forced down wages in the only jobs many immigrants can do. At the same time, California has a large and increasing gap between wages for unskilled labor and college graduates.
European immigrants pulled themselves out of poverty and learned new jobs as circumstances changed. Now, Prof. Clark writes, “we can no longer assume that the problem will take care of itself, that somehow immigrants will acquire the skills needed to participate in a changing economic milieu . . .”
Prof. Clark points out that poor, uneducated immigrants are likely to accumulate in dense numbers, not only in neighborhoods but in housing units themselves: “In the Salvadoran neighborhoods near downtown Los Angeles, where about three-quarters of the population are foreign-born, some population densities reach almost 70,000 persons per square mile [the Los Angeles average is 7,841 per square mile]. We would expect to find such densities more commonly in the inner cities of India and Africa than in North America.”
He points out that the densities of Cambodian neighborhoods in Long Beach are almost as high.
In many cases, it is not just immigrants of the same nationality but even the same locale who cluster together. “Over a 30-year period,” writes Prof. Clark, “the initial migrants from the village of Granjenal have re-created that community in a new geographic setting [through chain migration].”
Needless to say, the former residents of the area didn’t like it when it turned into Granjenal. They have moved out, just as they have moved out of thousands of other neighborhoods that turned into Third-World outposts. “[T]he very large numbers of Hispanics may be stimulating a resegregation,” notes Prof. Clark, adding that “it is possible that the process could usher in an era of separation and balkanization.” He even hints that race may have something to do with it: “the “white’ immigrants did eventually merge and blend. The current immigration process, however, may not play out in quite the same way.”
What might happen instead? “[I]f the differential patterns of immigration and out-migration continue, it is entirely possible to envision a completely changed and ethnically separated metropolitan structure . . .” Prof. Clark imagines “one possible future for communities in Southern California, and eventually even the nation: political upheaval as groups struggle for group power rather than individual influence.”
Prof. Clark hopes that this may yet be forestalled by cutting immigration and basing it on skills rather than family reunification. He makes the obvious but heretical point that if family unity is so important it can take place in Mexico or Guatemala just as well as in the United States. He even explains that a nation is not defined exclusively in economic terms, and that by emphasizing “separate identity rather than integration, at just the time when the flows are more diverse,” we are destroying the basis of national unity. He forecasts increasing ethnic antagonism between aging affluent whites and young destitute non-whites.
Left unasked is the question of why a nation would ever embark upon such a suicidal policy. Why do we fight poverty but import poor people? Why do we worry about education but import illiterates? Why do we wring our hands over “racism” but ensure antagonism by importing every race under the sun? Readers will not find answers to these questions in The California Cauldron, but they will learn what we are bringing upon ourselves by not asking them.