The High Price Today of Immigration Reform in 1965





Mr. Johnson is a free-lance writer in Ohio.

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America's current mass immigration mess is the result of a change in the laws in 1965. Prior to 1965, despite some changes in the 50's, America was a low-immigration country basically living under immigration laws written in 1924. Thanks to low immigration, the swamp of cheap labor was largely drained during this period, America became a fundamentally middle-class society, and our many European ethnic groups were brought together into a common national culture. In some ways, this achievement was so complete that we started to take for granted what we had achieved and forgot why it happened. So in a spasm of sentimentality on the Right and lies on the Left, we opened the borders.

Born of liberal ideology, the 1965 bill abolished the national origins quota system that had regulated the ethnic composition of immigration in fair proportion to each group's existing presence in the population. In a misguided application spirit of the civil rights era, the Kennedy and Johnson administrations saw these ethnic quotas as an archaic form of chauvinism. Moreover, as Cold Warriors facing charges of "racism" and "imperialism," they found the system rhetorically embarrassing. The record of debate over this seismic change in immigration policy reveals that left-wingers, in their visceral flight to attack "discrimination," did not reveal the consequences of their convictions. Instead, their spokesmen set out to assuage concerned traditionalists with a litany of lies and wishful thinking.

Chief among national concerns was total numeric immigration. Senate floor manager and Camelot knight-errant Ted Kennedy assured jittery senators that "our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually." Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, further calmed that august body, insisting "the total number of potential immigrants would not be changed very much." Time has proven otherwise. Average immigration levels before the 1965 amendments took effect hovered around 300,000 per annum. Yet 1,045,000 legal immigrants flooded our cities in 1996 alone.

The 1965 "reform" reoriented policy away from European ethnic groups, yet implemented numbers similar to 1950's rates in an attempt to keep immigration under control. However, members of Congress managed to miss a loophole large enough to allow a 300 percent in immigration, because they did not take into account two "sentimental" provisions. Under the bill, immediate family members of U.S. citizens and political refugees would face no quotas. Their likely impact on the nation was ignored, presumably because aiding families and the dispossessed cast the right emotive glow.

Yet leftists could sound like hard-nosed defenders of the national interest when necessary. In urging passage of the 1965 bill, Senator Robert F. Kennedy wrote in a letter to the New York Times, "The time has come for us to insist that the quota system be replaced by the merit system." As if merit is the operative principle along the Rio Grande today! Similarly, Representative Robert Sweeney (D-Ohio), insisted the bill was "more beneficial to us." In fact, the 1965 bill made "family reunification" - including extended family members - the key criterion for eligibility. These new citizens may in turn send for their families, creating an endless cycle known to sociologists as the immigration chain. The qualifications of immigrants have predictably fallen. Hispanic immigrants, by far the largest contingent, are eight times more likely than natives to lack a ninth-grade education, and less than half as likely to have a college degree.

The bill did not end discrimination based on what President John F. Kennedy called "the accident of birth." It de facto discriminates in favor of Mexicans and certain other groups.

Not only has the bill failed in its stated purpose, it has realized many of its critics' worst nightmares. Concern mounted that this bill would radically change the ethnic composition of the United States. Such things were still considered legitimate concerns in 1965, in the same Congress that had just passed the key civil rights legislation of the 1960's.

Specific influx predictions that were made seem tragicomic today. Senator Robert Kennedy predicted a total of 5,000 immigrants from India; his successor as attorney general, Nicholas Katzenbach, foresaw a meager 8,000. Actual immigration from India has exceeded by 1,000-times Robert Kennedy's prediction.

Senator Hiram Fong (R-Hawaii), calculated that "the people from [Asia] will never reach 1 percent of the population." Even in 1965, people were willing to admit that we have a reasonable interest in not being inundated by culturally alien foreigners, and it was considered acceptable to say so on the floor of the Senate. Try that today, even as a supposed conservative! (Asians currently account for 3 percent of the population, and will swell to near 10 percent by 2050 if present trends continue.)

The only remaining congressman who had voted on the 1920s quotas, Representative Emanuel Celler (D-New York), insisted, "There will not be, comparatively speaking, many Asians or Africans entering this country." Today, the number of Asians and Africans entering this country each year exceeds the annual average total number of immigrants during the 1960s.

Yet the largest ethnic shift has occurred within the ranks of Hispanics. Despite Robert Kennedy's promise that, "Immigration from any single country would be limited to 10 percent of the total," Mexico sent 20 percent of last year's immigrants. Hispanics have made up nearly half of all immigrants since 1968. After a 30-year experiment with open borders, whites no longer constitute a majority of Californians or residents of New York City.

As immigrants pour in, native Americans feel themselves pushed out. In 1965, Senator Hugh Scott (R-Pennsylvania), opined, "I doubt if this bill will really be the cause of crowding the present Americans out of the 50 states." Yet half-a-million native Californians fled the state in the last decade, while its total population increased by three million, mostly immigrants. This phenomenon also holds true in microcosm. In tiny Ligonier, Indiana, (population 4,357) 914 Hispanics moved in and 216 American-born citizens departed during the 1990s. Hispanics now outnumber the Amish as the area's dominant minority.

Thirty-plus years of immigration at historic levels have also had an economic impact on America. In 1965, Ted Kennedy confidently predicted, "No immigrant visa will be issued to a person who is likely to become a public charge." However, political refugees qualify for public assistance upon setting foot on U.S. soil. The exploding Somali refugee population of Lewiston, Maine, (pop. 36,000) is heavily welfare-dependent. Likewise, 2,900 of Wausau, Wisconsin's 4,200 Hmong refugees receive public assistance. In all, 21 percent of immigrants receive public assistance, whereas 14 percent of natives do so. Immigrants are 50 percent more likely than natives to live in poverty.

Ted Kennedy also claimed the 1965 amendments "will not cause American workers to lose their jobs." Teddy cannot have it both ways: either the immigrant will remain unemployed and become a public charge, or he will take a job that otherwise could have gone to a native American. What is presently undisputed - except by the same economic analysts at Wired magazine and the Wall Street Journal who gave us dot-com stocks - is that immigrant participation lowers wages.

Despite the overwhelming assurances of the bill's supporters, the 1965 Immigration Reform Act has remade society into the image its critics most feared. Immigration levels topping a million a year will increase U.S. population to 400 million within 50 years. Meanwhile, exponents of multiculturalism insist new arrivals make no effort to assimilate; to do so would be "genocidal," a notion that makes a mockery of real genocides. Instead, long-forgotten grudges are nursed against the white populace. Native citizens take to flight as the neighborhoods around them become dominated at one end of the scale by low-wage immigrants and on the other, by well-heeled businessmen. All the while, indigenous paychecks drop through lower wages and higher taxes collected to provide social services for immigrants. And this only takes into account legal immigration.

These results were unforeseen by liberals easily misled by good intentions. Others were not so blind. Jewish organizations had labored since 1924 to unweave national origins quotas by admitting family members on non-quota visas. The B'nai B'rith Women and the American Council for Judaism Philanthropic Fund, among other Jewish organizations, supported this reform legislation while it was yet in subcommittee in the winter of 1965. Roman Catholics had the twin motivations of still-evolving social justice doctrine and the potential windfall of a mass influx of co-religionists from Latin America. Other organized minorities pressured for increased immigration to benefit relatives in their homelands. The ultra-liberal Americans for Democratic Action, the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild joined the chorus.

Americans must realize demographic trends are not inevitable, the product of mysterious forces beyond their control. Today's population is the result of yesterday's immigration policy, and that policy is as clearly broken as its backers' assurances were facetious. A rational policy will only come about when Americans place the national interest above liberal howls of "prejudice" and "tribalism."

 


This article was first published by frontpagemag.com and is reprinted with permission.


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C Ferg - 12/21/2006

Compared to the first and second great immigration to this country. This third immigration has by far greater educational attainment, better economic status and more ties to the country. The Europeans that arrived here were allowed the time and given the support and resources in order to achieve the American dream. Can you imagine what Phillipino RN's (who came with that degree) will achieve if given the same time and resources. Because in 2006 (going on 7,) the Right has tried (for many decades) to make if difficult for immigrants to get here, they indirectly raised the bar. When peasant Europeans stepped off the boat in New York Harbor they had nothing but a dream. And despite many negative attitudes towards them, it was never the level of recism and hatred that White America perpetrates aginst any other skin color. SO before you open your mouth, check your facts. Don't try to use the bit that you know to twist the facts.


Tom Kellum - 12/28/2002

Today's NYT (12-28-02) has an editorial titled "The Welcome Mat Frays"). This editorial is ostensibly about arbitraily refusing entry to those fleeing "oppression." Of course, you could be working in a Nike factory in Lower Slobovia or Nikejistan, and feel like you're being oppressed. Or, you could be selling chiclets on a busy Mexico City street, and feel oppressed. No doubt; a strong case could be made in either instance.

It's easy to sell immigration, if you ignore the costs. And, it's easy to "buy" it even if you don't own shares in a diaper company or apartment development firm etc. And, if your company profits from having cheap labor use loud devices to blow dirt, dust, and leaves around town, you could feel downright patriotic at the thought of more immigrants in your area.

Have some. Today. In new, easy-to-swallow, propaganda form.


Ben Johnson - 12/28/2002

Mr. Moner has conveniently insisted on having the last word, twice insisting he won't be back until after the New Year.

Having seen such an intellectually dishonest move, I am not at all surprised that he failed to respond to my answer of these exact charges. For those who missed the thread, it is located here: http://hnn.us/comments/6314.html

In the interim, the questions for Mr. Moner to answer are simple:

1) Where is the proof that massive immigration improves the U.S. economy markedly? I gave my response in the thread cited above; Mr. Moner chose not to respond with anything but more epithets.

2) Why his own obsession on race?

3) Why must he impute racist motivations to this author? A clear reading of my article shows it was the Congress, indeed the leftist senators themselves, who mentioned these as potential threats, before assuring the country none would come to pass. Is it "racist" to point out they were wrong? Is it insensitive to point out that Spanish is the official language of a few American cities and the de facto native tongue of other areas, including such unlikely places as Ligonier, Indiana?

4) At what point is Mr. Moner responsible to answer for his vacuous, reason-free diatribe and called to prove anything he says with a factual citation, which is, after all, the business of historians.

Mr. Moner, anyone who has read your non-responses to this thread must agree with Mr. Brady that, indeed, you do spend too much time writing. Have a restful retirement.


Gus Moner - 12/28/2002

Well said, Mr. Dresner.


Gus Moner - 12/28/2002

Schartzkoppff, Powell, Kellum, Rice, Bush, Reagan, Kennedy, Nixon, Moner, Wellstone, Westmoreland, Humphrey, Goldwater, Eisenhower, Kissinger, Schultz, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld where did their families come from? Nevada native-breeding caves?


Gus Moner - 12/28/2002

What is the problem with the immigrants, Mr Johnson? Some of us just don't get the point. Their "blindness" has given us some rather good economic development.


Gus Moner - 12/28/2002

No, no! Mr. Kellum, where did I say no restrictions on immigration? Aghast. I do admire, really, how you can take my arguments to the absurd end of the logic. Sometimes it’s brilliant. On the one hand, that isn’t always indicative of the flaw of flawlessness of an argument, as Hitler’s proved. On the other, I admit and appreciate that it shows you at least get them, even if you happily disagree!

Neither choice you offer looks good. Try building something better. I agree it disgracefully advantages capitalists, however, other people down the ladder, perhaps even you and I, have benefited as well. The question is how to get the growth and development without the social ill of an increasing gap between capitalists, corporate directors and their lot and the real lot of us.

I’m off on holidays, so I shan’t be bothering for a while. Happy New Year.


Gus Moner - 12/28/2002

Mr. Johnson, I would draw your attention to the comment you made, that “Jesse Lemisch's far-left tirade against war in Iraq did no such thing, yet its radical bias failed to draw Mr. Kahan's ire”. I would say that radical or far left is not the same as racist or white supremacist. Perhaps that's the difference.

You kindly shared your qualifications with us, no dout to put us at ease that this was a clever person writing. that was obvious. Notwithstanding the qualifications, indicating that you are indeed clever, that has no bearing on whether you put a racist, white supremacist biased article on the web or not. So, you should come up with a better explanation.

You go on to say: “Yet experts warned that ‘relationship by blood or marriage and the principle of reuniting families have become the 'open Sesame' to the immigration gates" and "make apparently inevitable a change in the ethnic face of the nation".

There you go again. What is the problem if the ethnic face of the nation changes? You’re walking in Mississippi Delta swampland.

You also mention that “The quota system in part responded that an unbridled influx of immigrants threatened that very prosperity with declining wages. And in part quotas were driven by racialist nonsense. My article in no way defends the quota system; it merely points out the base deception or ignorance of the 1965 Immigration Reform Act's sponsors, which criticism Mr. Kahan deems "beyond the pale."

I agree you do point that element of error and ignorance up. Notwithstanding, you fail utterly to explain what is the problem with the result. Implicit in the frequent mentions of the racial make-up of the nation is its negativity, which you regurgitate with extremely racist references to the changing the face of the nation or its ethnic make up, as if it were the opening night of Sodom and Gomorra. The predictions were wrong, and so was last night’s weather forecast. What is the harm? Liberals got it ‘wrong’ in their predictions? Why the racist citations throughout, then?

Finally you say: “Mr. Kahan's only desire is to bully the establishment to enforce his (apparently) own ultra-liberal orthodoxy upon all historical discussion, dispatching anything not that does not coincide with his own views down the memory-hole. However, history, if it is to remain vibrant, must allow for judgment. The very purpose of studying history is to gain perspective over time. Investigating the shortcomings of leftist utopian rhetoric - the point of the article - is hardly "beyond the pale." Smearing dissidents with hateful rhetoric and demanding their public silencing in a transparent display of politically motivated bias demeans himself and cheapens the public image of the institution with which he is affiliated”.

In my view, Mr Kahan has not tried to bully anyone. He’s just pointed up the racist, white supremacist tone and quotes the article included, rightly condemning along the way the inaccuracies and statistical manipulation out of context, which you have cleverly, as befits your high marks at school, put forth as a substitute for real scholarly work without white supremacist hues.

Indeed it is you who have 'smeared' immigrants, of whom you are no doubt a descendant of, with ‘hateful rhetoric’ ‘in a transparent display of politically motivated bias’ cheapening historiography. Your frequent and rabid left wing-right wing rhetoric points up your political rather than historical motivation and ultimate bias. You may have a point, but its racist, not historical, The point, as you put it: “Investigating the shortcomings of leftist utopian rhetoric” clearly states your intent, not historical research, perspective or vibrant judgement.

It is not for me to say you should or shouldn’t be published. You obviously ought to be published somewhere. Therefore, bear in mind that the question raised was whether here is the appropriate forum.

I am going on holidays, as Mr. Brady feels I spend too much time writing and not enough with my family. See you all after the new year has come, and may it be a peaceful and healthy one for us all.


mark safranski - 12/27/2002

While I cannot say I agree with everything in Mr. Johnson's article, particularly the economic effects of immigration aspect, he is raising a number of legitimate points about immigration policy that ought to be debated. When the INS is refusing entry to Chinese physicists and theoretical mathematicians but several hundred thousand illiterate to semi-illiterate campesinos receive preference something is seriously askew. Entry to the United States should be governed by American interests and be periodically changed accordingly as conditions evolve.

To impugn Mr. Johnson's motives as Mr. Kahan has done, as " racist " is a simple-minded ad hominem attack designed to shut down debate and intimidate the editors of HNN.

If Mr. Kahan desires to see the face of modern fascism I suggest he look in the mirror.


Tom Kellum - 12/27/2002

By Mr. Moner's logic, we should have no restrictions on immigration. If we let in five million more immigrants in 2003, then the profits from all of the consumer products they purchase, the rent they pay, the lower wages they earn...it will all flow back to the "capitalists." In Mr. Moner's logic, it wouldn't be greedy to let in ten million. Why stop at five million? They're all new customers whose purchases will increase sales and profits for "capitalists." So, open the door!

Now, as for the impact on the rest of us; well, Mr. Moner, one supposes, would tell us we're racists, and we should remember the virtues of social Darwinism.

For me personally, it's a tough choice: whether to choose the China model, or that of India. After all, the "capitalists" in those nations live in walled compounds...far from the teeming masses. The capitalists there are all doing quite well, thank you. Let us praise them for being successful.


Ben Johnson - 12/27/2002

Mr. Kahan, may I begin this piece by noting the odd combination of imputing Nazism and the endorsement of my article by David Horowitz, hardly the second coming of Gerald L.K. Smith!

Secondly, the point of his hatefest-masquerading-as-commentary (to the extent such a thing is discernible) seems to be that my article did not present every conceivable side of the issue. Come, come; Jesse Lemisch's far-left tirade against war in Iraq did no such thing, yet its radical bias failed to draw Mr. Kahan's ire. Ditto Derek Alger's castigation of Senator Trent Lott as "ignorant, racist, stupid, or offensive" and his invitation for Lott to "find another country to be part of."

Coincidentally, Mr. Alger's only identification is as a "freelance writer," and not even David Horowitz published his piece! (Incidentally, I graduated with a history degree summa cum laude, am working on a graduate degree and am a member of Phi Beta Kappa.)

Third, I suppose it matters little the ethnic organizations in question did in fact anticipate greater numbers of immigrants from their proposed reforms - indeed, hoped and prayed for it. Ethnic groups excluded by the quota system - Eastern and Southern Europeans - hoped to increase immigration from their homelands. Jewish organizations had, since the 1920s, pushed for family reunification as a cornerstone of immigration policy. Yet experts warned that "relationship by blood or marriage and the principle of reuniting families have become the 'open Sesame' to the immigration gates" and "make apparently inevitable a change in the ethnic face of the nation."

Numerous ethnic groups hoped to allow as many of their countrymen as possible to enjoy American prosperity. The quota system in part responded that an unbridled influx of immigrants threatened that very prosperity with declining wages. And in part quotas were driven by racialist nonsense. My article in no way defends the quota system; it merely points out the base deception or ignorance of the 1965 Immigration Reform Act's sponsors, which criticism Mr. Kahan deems "beyond the pale."

Mr. Kahan's only desire is to bully the establishment to enforce his (apparently) own ultra-liberal orthodoxy upon all historical discussion, dispatching anything not that does not coincide with his own views down the memory-hole. However, history, if it is to remain vibrant, must allow for judgment. The very purpose of studying history is to gain perspective over time. Investigating the shortcomings of leftist utopian rhetoric - the point of the article - is hardly "beyond the pale." Smearing dissidents with hateful rhetoric and demanding their public silencing in a transparent display of politically motivated bias demeans himself and cheapens the public image of the institution with which he is affiliated.

Mr. Kahan should issue a public retraction of his transgression against history.


Ben Johnson - 12/27/2002

What is Mr. Montana's point? It seems to me the problem is our national policy and the blindness of the 1965 bill's architects; or is it Jeanne Dixon in reverse?


Ben Johnson - 12/27/2002

Mr. Kellum is correct that if wages were to rise for "undesirable" employment, the "labor shortage" would disappear, as well. Conservatives have done nothing because large firms rake in most of the gains of immigration: lower wages, fear of displacement and the tranquility of a willing and compliant workforce. (Immigrants are used to worse working conditions than their native counterparts and are less likely to agitate for union rights.) Whether this is good or bad is a matter of debate, but the issue seems a valid and overdue topic for just such a dialogue.


Ben Johnson - 12/27/2002

Mr. Dresner has made an interesting reply to my article, alleging "errors and oversights." He then points out no errors.

My article makes no comment whatever on whether the racial/ethnic composition should remain static vis-a-vis 1965 standards; the leftists who backed the bill apparently did so, arguing, as they did, that no such changes would occur.

The thrust of my article is the broken promises of the pro-immigration crowd in 1965. They proved their insights faulty (or their arguments deliberately specious). History has judged them misleading. Whether ethnic composition is good or bad is another matter; I simply noted the failed forecasts of this "reform" law's sponsors.

Secondly, as the article documents, immigrants are more likely than non-immigrants to receive state or federal assistance. If this is false, document your source. I sincerely doubt this will occur, as your objections seem to stem from an emotional knee-jerk reaction of ill-will to numerical curtailment of immigration, a policy supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans. If you see a factual mistake, as you claim to have, document it forthwith. Your failure to do so will serve as your intellectual indictment.


Ben Johnson - 12/27/2002

In Mr. Moner's ramblings (which occasionally touch on the subject of the article), not only are "the premises all flawed here," but likewise the conclusions, asides and ad hominem attacks are devoid of substance, reason and grace.

For one, there is no "allegedly low immigration period between 1924-1965." During this time, 270,000 immigrants entered the country; more than three times that many legal immigrants entered America in 1996. Mr. Moner's belief that numerical data are debatable is reflective of his approach to the rest of the article, and apparently reality itself.

Despite his vituperations, the economy seese nearly no benefit of high immigration - particularly that of unskilled (non)laborers. According to George Borjas, the foremost scholar in the impact of immigrants on the economy, immigrants may contribute as much as $7 billion to the overall U.S. economy. This miniscule amount is more than offset by lower American wages, higher welfare expenditures, expenses for educating newly naturalized children (often in their own language) and lost productivity through an imprecise grasp of the English language. Mr. Moner has understandably left these facts out of his response.

Mr. Moner is certainly correct in asserting that no brains were used in creating the family reunification provisions of the bill. These new immigrants may then send for their family members, who in turn send for their family members, ad infinitem. In some nations, the waiting list for family members alone is filled for more than a decade, obliterating the hopes of any skilled immigrantion from that land.

Perhaps Mr. Moner would do well to look over the data within the article, as well. One million immigrants enter the country each year. A total of 31 million (legal) immigrants live here, comprising more than 11 percent of the population.

German-speaking Amish certainly seem to regard themselves as an ethnic anomaly in the Midwest, referring to the rest of us as "the English." However, the point is Amish have lived in the area for more than a century, yet within 10 years the landscape of middle America has been consciously transformed. (The Elkhart, Indiana, Chamber of Commerce advertised job openings in the area along the Mexican border.; odd, given that Appalachia suffers under 25 percent unemployment.)

However, most telling is the overall lack of relationship between his critique and the article I wrote. In his haste to impute sinister, racist motivations to my work, Mr. Moner (a phonetically appropriate surname to be sure) missed the entire thrust of the article: the proponents of the 1965 immigration law were either blithely obtuse about its consequences or deceptive about their intentions. Their sincerest assurances (all specifically quoted in the text) have proven false, and in the process the legislation "has realized many of its critics' worst nightmares." Whether these changes are good or bad deserves a better debate than they it received in 1965, gaining from the benefit of hindsight.

Perhaps this last is what separates the two of us. The conservative believes in learning from history, while the leftist believes his philosophical incantations empower him to defy or (heaven help us) guide it. The results of this 24-year immigration experiment tell us that this policy has failed. Civil rights for non-citizens is utopian doggerel. It is hardly racist to point out the failed prophecies of the left, nor to debate whether exponential immigration surges are in our own well-being. Should Mr. Moner wish to engage in this debate, and in that foray possibly spice up his argument with facts, he would be more than welcome.

And incidentally, happy holidays.


Tom Kellum - 12/27/2002

"Rubbish" collectors and nurses work mainly at for-profit organizations in the U.S.A. Therefore, what they are paid is not related to tax rates.

Let me repeat that there is NO labor SHORTAGE in the U.S.A..
There is a labor SURPLUS. If the surplus (Bus. welfare) were to vanish tomorrow, wages would rise, and plenty of people would be in line for jobs at lawn maintenance companies etc. Certain jobs here, and abroad, have never, and will never, appeal to educated people. However; there are plenty of relatively un-skilled persons here who would certainly take those jobs if the wages were higher (they did 25 years ago, and they would today).

It is only because politicians pass "Business Welfare" legislation that we have a labor SURPLUS. Reduce the labor surplus and the resultant higer wages would attract plenty of applicants for available jobs. Those companies unable to raise their prices accordingly would then face the same consequences of the capitalistic system as other businesses must. (The lawn maintenance industry and other low-wage service businesses might have a good argument that they are being singled out for UNfair cuts in "their" corporate welfare, but that is another issue.)


Michael Kahan - 12/26/2002

The History News Network claims to present the views of "historians." Although your "raison d'etre" indicates that you operate independently of George Mason University, there is a clear implication that your writers, whatever their political persuasions, will live up to the standards of balance, fairness, honesty, and accuracy that are widely accepted for academic historical inquiry. That includes, as your web site says, recognizing and presenting "the complexity of history." I was shocked, then, to see that you posted the simplistic, misleading writings of Ben Johnson on American immigration policy ("The High Price Today of Immigration Reform in 1965," HNN 12-23-02). While there is clearly room for legitimate disagreement on the controversial topic of immigration, Johnson's piece lies far beyond the pale. It is a very thinly veiled white supremacist attack on non-white immigration since 1965. It praises the "common national culture" ostensibly created by America's "European ethnic groups," while expressing undisguised revulsion at Mexicans, Asians, and Africans. It describes an America "inundated by culturally alien foreigners" where "native Americans feel themselves pushed out," the victims of "long forgotten grudges." The penultimate paragraph pushes the essay over the edge into territory properly reserved for the KKK and the National Alliance. Here Johnson places the blame for the increase in non-European immigration primarily on American Jews (although he allows a role for Catholics and "liberals" as well). In his conspiratorial worldview, the politicians who voted for the 1965 immigration reform bill failed to foresee its consequences, but the "Jewish organizations" who duped them knew all along what the results would be. Johnson's historical qualifications appear to be nil; he is identified as a "freelance writer" whose only endorsement seems to be from David Horowitz's far-right frontpagemag.com, which originally published this piece. One of Johnson's most egregious misstatements is his suggestion that the national quota system that existed prior to 1965 admitted ethnic groups in "fair proportion" to their presence in the population. In fact, the 1924 quota system (still largely in place until 1965) admitted groups in proportion to their presence in the US in 1890, a date chosen precisely to ensure that admissions would *not* fairly reflect the representation of Jews, Italians, Greeks, Slavs, and others who had immigrated in large numbers between 1890 and 1924. I urge HNN to publish a public retraction of the neo-fascist rantings of Ben Johnson, and to more carefully screen contributions in the future to ensure that they meet minimal standards for historical accuracy and fairness. Yours truly, Michael Kahan University of Pennsylvania


Gus Moner - 12/26/2002

It is not puzzling why no one has done anything about this situation. Perhaps, contrary to the paranoiac fear mongering about the voodoo of immigration, it is simply not a significant problem.
I agree with some of Mr Kellum’s comments, not with others nor the underlying implication we have an immigration problem of vast magnitude. It is not a liberal-conservative issue. It’s a national economic issue, and neither party seems to see the need to trifle with what is working.

The reliance on new labourers to keep costs down is indeed a form of welfare for some big industries and businesses. No one has mentioned it is a boon for taxi services, rubbish collectors, deliveries, garden centres, farmhands, etc. However, the underlying cause remains- that people born in plentiful nations simply do not want to do their rubbish collection and lawn maintenance. This scenario is unfolding in practically all the developed economies.

The Germans imported ‘guest workers’ in the 1960’s till early 80’s because, they alleged, the impact of war time casualties had left them with labour shortages during their ‘economic miracle’ years. However, the plain fact was and is that prosperous Germans didn’t want to collect their own rubbish anymore. Likewise now, when 2 million are unemployed and there are still labour shortages. Unlike US citizens, Europeans are more tribal and hometown community oriented. They dislike moving from one region to another. It is the same story in Belgium, Sweden, Italy… people who have grown up in a land of plenty feel others should do the demeaning, poorly paid work. Which begs the question, why are such vital jobs like rubbish collection, street cleaning, farming, teaching, nursing and the like so poorly paid and athletes and brokerage firms make millions of dollars a year for theirs?

New immigrants replace children not being born because the well-off citizens of developed nations find child rearing a costly and time consuming effort that detracts from their quality of life; skiing, SUV, concert-going, electronic gadget purchasing, travel etc. However, the bottom line remains than immigrants are performing useful functions in filling unwanted jobs, increasing the birth rate and adding to economic growth and tax revenue as they purchase everything they need, having arrived destitute.

Mr. Kellum barely touched on this, but if more wages were paid for certain jobs, such as rubbish collection and lawn maintenance, citizens would indeed want those jobs. However, no one wants to raise taxes to pay rubbish collectors or nurses, do they? Can’t have your cake and eat it too, goes the saying.






What a wonderful example of selectivity in evidence and conclusions. Yes, the 1965 immigration act changed immigration, and yes, immigration has affected the social and economic makeup of the United States. But the errors and oversights in this article are too numerous to list quickly. To take two examples: the article assumes that keeping the ethnic/racial mix of the united states what it was in 1965 (or earlier: the 1924 immigration law fixed national origin quotas based on the population in the 1880s, which is why it is frequently refered to as the Asian Exclusion Act) would be a good thing. But that is just an assumption, one that is not at all borne out by a reasonable examination of the constantly changing nature of US social history.
Second, the welfare argument is completely specious. Taking one small subset of a national group as the model, ignoring literally millions of productive immigrants and millions of native-born welfare recipients, is the most absurd form of argumentation imaginable short of outright fabrication.


Well, I completely missed the connection to the 1880’s immigration bill! Thanks for bringing it up. It shows how far back and imbedded racism is amongst lawmakers and other national ‘leaders’.

The underlying assumption of the article that excluding certain people or maintaining the ethnic balance of the nation as it is in any certain period is racist. It is exactly the dilemma being faced in Europe now, where national populations have been homogeneous for centuries.

The influx of immigrants to Europe due to low birth rates and increasing prosperity has created a changing ethnic-cultural mix that is alarming to many there who have never lived amongst any other people. Nonetheless, it is uplifting to visit France, Germany and Britain, nations with integration problems like all others, and see the high degree of integration and the ease of mixed race friendships in people who are almost naturally accepting their newer citizens. Yet, despite this trend, they are also creating ghettoes of immigrants that will someday backfire socially.

In contrast, the exclusivist exclusionary position in the US is about as hypocritical and racist as it gets. Mixed race groups are infrequently seen in the USA. Nearly every US citizen has an immigrant background. On what grounds can people exclude others without trampling on their own heritage? No generation has ever lived amongst ‘natives’, having succeeding waves of immigrants come from all sorts of places. Poles, Germans, Swedes, Armenians, Italians, Russians, Cubans, Haitians, Mexicans, you can list 150 races or ethnic groups.

The assumption that keeping a certain racial mix in an immigrant nation is a good thing is unfounded, and the author proves it by providing zero reasons for so doing.

I have already spoken of the fallacious welfare argument in an earlier commentary. I shall leave it at that, except to say I agree with Mr. Dresner’s comment on that issue.


Fred Montana - 12/26/2002

What is Mr. Johnson's point? Seems to me that this is the result of the people we elect and not the people themselves: or is it Trent Lott in reverse?


Tom Kellum - 12/25/2002

America's "current mass immigration mess" may, as the author suggests, be the result of a change in laws in 1965. Whatever the cause of the mess, one thing cannot be easily disputed: Mass media relentlessly sells the notion that mass immigration is a good thing. Today's (12-25) NYT has an editorial extolling the benefits it claims many communities throughout America are experiencing as a result of large numbers of new immigrants. Today's editorial focuses on the alleged benefits to smaller communities.

Whether in smaller communities or teeming cities, certain commercial (and other) special interest groups do gain a windfall from the influx of large numbers of new customers to their marketplace.

Sold? Me neither.


Jonathan Dresner - 12/25/2002

What a wonderful example of selectivity in evidence and conclusions. Yes, the 1965 immigration act changed immigration, and yes, immigration has affected the social and economic makeup of the United States. But the errors and oversights in this article are too numerous to list quickly. To take two examples: the article assumes that keeping the ethnic/racial mix of the united states what it was in 1965 (or earlier: the 1924 immigration law fixed national origin quotas based on the population in the 1880s, which is why it is frequently refered to as the Asian Exclusion Act) would be a good thing. But that is just an assumption, one that is not at all borne out by a reasonable examination of the constantly changing nature of US social history.
Second, the welfare argument is completely specious. Taking one small subset of a national group as the model, ignoring literally millions of productive immigrants and millions of native-born welfare recipients, is the most absurd form of argumentation imaginable short of outright fabrication.


Tom Kellum - 12/25/2002

You can blame "liberals" til the cows come home, but the fact remains that those who are in a position to do something about the many problems caused by our over-population from immigration, aren't going to.

Conservative politicians have grown too dependent on the support of the many special interest groups who directly benefit from ever-larger numbers of immigrants - legal and otherwise.

Just as they are addicted to the support from the large number of special interest groups who directly benefit (monetarily and otherwise) from our nation's irrational drug prohibition laws.

Making large numbers of cheap laborers available is a form of corporate welfare. If these "welfare Kings" were cut off from their present (Government-provided) source of unlimited numbers of immigrants willing to work for peanuts, you would see wages
for lawn maintenance workers rise, and plenty of applicants for those jobs.

You think Coca-Cola, GM, Wal-Mart, Proctor & Gamble, apartment owners, EXXON, and all the rest who like having a million+ new customers each year, courtesy of the Government...are about to make any meaningful changes in immigration laws?

No, it won't be conservatives who will call for changes. If anyone speaks up about reducing immigration, it will be enlightened liberals.


Gus Moner - 12/24/2002

The premises are all flawed here. One has to believe as gospel that there’s a current mass immigration mess. Excuse me while I get worked up. There’s a flaw in the argument, in that we are asked to faithfully believe on the author’s word that we became a low immigration nation of middle class people in an allegedly low immigration period between 1924-1965.

The 'spasm of sentimentality', as this charlatan describes it, that brought the open borders, (another lie, there are no open borders) led the way to the longest, most wealth-creating peacetime economic growth period we can recall. No doubt he has benefited immensely from it.

If the immigrants are legal and assimilate into the economy promoting economic development, bring in double the number, please. 1 000 000 people in a nation of 270 million is .00387 of the population, is that a flood? I am alarmed. Get real. Use a calculator.

Why shouldn’t my or your sister from wherever be able to come and live with you or me? Family reunification is a no-brainer. The political refugee provisions require more thinking, I agree. Under that, it’s curious you omitted the Cuban Refugee provision allowing any Cuban setting foot on US soil instant access. Haitians, nor anyone else, obtain that treatment. Under that loophole over 1,000,000 Cubans have 'flooded'the USA.

Perhaps the level of immigrant education is lower because the labour they are required for demands low education and high desperation- for menial wages of course. Please do explain further your claim that “It de facto discriminates in favor of Mexicans and certain other groups”, and do mention more on the ‘certain other groups’. Particularly where this has hindered our development.

Why is it a ‘worst nightmare’ that the bill “would radically change the ethnic composition of the United States”? Even if true, which I do not buy, what exactly is the point? The point is always between the lines in this blatantly false article. Almost any prediction made in 1965 would seem comical today. Tragicomic is your article.

What have you got against India? What is the problem with Asians being 10% of the population? Your insinuations are repulsive. Explain clearly what you mean, it is cowardly to throw a stone and hide.

Immigrations patterns have ever historically changed world-wide. They are now changing too. What’s the problem? The Judeo-Christian stranglehold on power and policies will be diminished and the ones in power now may lose control? That seems the subliminal message here.

So, what is the problem if whites are no longer a majority in California. Are non-whites a threat to you? Another mute point, alarmist rhetoric with no meat.

“As immigrants pour in, native Americans feel themselves pushed out”. This has been happening here since 1642 ask any native tribe. What exactly is new? Ah, yes, they are non-whites. Sorry.
This is disdainful on the heels of Thanksgiving, when we thnaked the natives for their assistance, before conquering and putting them in concentrated reserves.

Where is the evidence to back your statement that the reason “Yet half-a-million native Californians fled the state in the last decade, while its total population increased by three million, mostly immigrants” is due to their being non-white? Just how many where non-white? I doubt you even know.

In desperation, are you claiming the Amish are a racial minority and not a religious cult? Your bubble gum is really going to pop in your nose mate.

The political refugees mentioned happen to have been created by the results of US policies in the past. Hmongs, Cubans, Vietnamese, Russia, etc. The Hmong, you may recall were a primitive tribe with no written language living in tropical jungles. We brought them to the USA to reward their loyalty in the Indo China conflict. It is hardly surprising half are on welfare, and rather remarkable that half are now not when the figure was once 100%.

And if immigrants are living in poverty, the wealthiest nation and people on earth, who in many cases are complicit in their plight can afford to help them get ahead. By and large, immigrants contribute far more in wealth and taxes than they obtain in benefits.

And Ted Kennedy was right on this, immigrants have not caused job loss. They have been part of an employment boon almost uninterrupted (except by Bush I) since Reagan’s second term, coinciding with the children of the first wave entering the work force.

Immigrant participations contributes to lower wages, however it is essential to keep wages low in capitalist economies so profits can flow back to the capitalists. Moreover, to perform the menial tasks the ‘natives’ no longer deem suitable for their status, these workers are essential. The Wall Street Journal has often come out in favour of wages being kept low.

Well, more holes than Swiss cheese here, and a lot more unsavoury. Notwithstanding all the rebutted points, the article’s main flaw remains its racist and biased slant as depicted by the preposterous notion that Judeo Christians are ‘natives’ and ‘indigenous’ people in the USA.

The author would have us aberrantly believe that we were always here, none of our ancestors arrived from anywhere else and that whites are the indigenous and native people of the USA. Like the Israelites who flooded into Palestine and now want all of it for themselves, excluding the real natives there, the Palestinian Arabs, we’ve always been here, no Mr. Johnson? Talk about prejudice and tribalism, but then what can we expect from the dross and dregs of society congregated there in HoroWorship?

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