Freedom Folks

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Immigration Debate

Source: Wapo

Michael Powell has a puff piece up today extolling the wonders of the "Great Wave" of immigration at the turn of the century. With rose colored glasses firmly affixed he assures us that it was all sunlight and puppies and that those of us who are concerned about our current retarded immigration policy and lack of any meaningful enforcement are just as mistaken as those a hundred years ago were.

The piece contains gems like these...
"It would be easy to say the short-run costs of immigration outweighed the benefits," said Joe Salvo, a director at New York's City Planning Department. "But the benefits are longer term. We wouldn't be the superpower we are if we hadn't let them in."
Oh really? I for one would be most curious to know on what this is based. Have immigrants played an important role in this country, sure, do we owe our very existence and excellence to them exclusively? I tend to think it's at least as much that America, especially the tougher earlier America was also good for immigrants, but I won't say that too loud, I don't want to make any patriotic, diversity loving lefties weep like little girls.

And of course one of the basic complaints which is echoed today was not that there was immigration, but the amounts. Big business wanted cheap, compliant labor, and they got it over the wishes of American citizens who fought for forty years, not to stop immigration, but to slow it down. One of the problems associated with mass immigration...

And there was a nub of truth to some complaints, not least that the vast influx of immigrants drove down working-class wages. And finally, what in the blue blazes does Mr. Salvo with the NYC planning department know about this? What authority does he hold exactly other than perhaps being a product of the great wave?
Debates arose that still resonate. Radicals worried that immigrants depressed working-class wages, and there is evidence that this was so. Labor organizing took off most successfully after Congress moved to shut off the immigration funnel in the 1920s. "Because people kept coming in, union organizing efforts doesn't really take off until the 1920s and '30s," said Fred Siegel, a historian at Cooper Union College.
But hold on a sec, I thought mass immigration didn't drive wages down? Now they do? Whatever are we to believe?

I find the second paragraph instructive...
Labor organizing took off most successfully after Congress moved to shut off the immigration funnel in the 1920s. "Because people kept coming in, union organizing efforts doesn't really take off until the 1920s and '30s,"
I wonder why old Fred Siegel thinks that might be? I would hazard a guess that without the endless waves of desperate laborers swarming every job site, just as the business owners desired, perhaps the employees were able to find some parity. Indeed they did, and ultimately the middle class in this country was built during the years 1925-1965.

In 1965 Ted Kennedy among others passed the new immigration bill, opened the spigot, and the American middle class has been moving backwards steadily since then.

I particularly like this one...
But perhaps half of the Italian immigrants returned to Italy, often with cash to buy a farm or own a business. Greeks, too, returned in large numbers. "People complain about Mexicans coming for economic reasons, but they don't realize how many earlier immigrants just sojourned here," said Richard Wright, a geography professor at Dartmouth College. "The rates of return are staggering."
Gee, imagine people feeling uncomfortable with folks treating this country like an ATM? My question stands, are we the United States of America -- or -- the United Economy of America? I'm not crazy about people coming here solely for economic reasons, I'm not crazy about people treting this country that I love like a jobsite. People don't tend to treat jobsites very well, do they?

And I love in these how they tend to pull the rug out from under their own BS arguments...(Undermining bolded for your reading pleasure)
Other worries seem now like artifacts from a forgotten age. For all that Americans worried about the primacy of English at the turn of the 20th century, most first-generation immigrants quickly shed native languages -- in polyglot New York no single language could dominate. This remains true as the three largest immigrant groups -- Dominicans, Chinese and South Asians -- share no language but English. (The vast Spanish-speaking Mexican influx into Southern California is another matter and potentially more problematic as immigrants have less incentive to drop a shared language, say sociologists.)
Ohhhh! Oh, I see, so we don't have to worry about the smaller groups, just the really big one. Well, why didn't you just say so. I feel so comforted, no really!

This is one of the most singularly pro-illegal puff pieces I've ever read, I genuinely hope Mr. Powell understands how truly disengenuous this piece of tripe is, I hope you do too.

While the great wave turned out mostly okay, let's remember that it wasn't all puppies and rainbows. There were many legitimate concerns that are being echoed today.

My challenge to you dear reader, explain to me why "restrictionist" is a pejorative term?

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