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Towards a Rational Immigration Policy

And education is not the only area where Americans could reap enormous savings by rejecting the arguments of the labor protectionists. Another is health care. Because of the limited numbers of American medical school graduates, many specialist doctors are currently taking home salaries above $400,000 per year. That may be nice for them, but it imposes excessive medical care costs on everyone else, and because these costs are typically passed on via health insurance to employers, it is making American industry less competitive internationally, and thereby contributing to unemployment.

Furthermore, because such specialist salaries are so high, they are having the effect of depleting the number of doctors involved in primary care, and thereby stripping parts of the nation -- whether covered with insurance or not -- of their access to timely medical assistance. These problems could be readily solved by opening our doors to foreign medical talent.

It is odd that the anti-immigrant’s labor-protectionist argument has been allowed to pass with so little challenge, as it obviously contradicts every well-proven principle of free-enterprise economics. Nor do immigration-restriction politics have a valid basis in any other legitimate source of American conservative philosophy. Quite the contrary, since the first Thanksgiving, America’s tradition has been to welcome immigrants, and it was only with the advent of the progressive movement in the early twentieth century that a significant faction of educated opinion aligned itself otherwise.

Embracing eugenics, environmentalism, and Malthusian ideology and suffering from delusions of grandeur as the would-be elite managers of all aspects of society, the progressives sought to institute immigration restriction as a way of controlling and culling the eugenic qualities of what they saw as the nation’s herd of human racial “stock.” Using IQ tests (delivered in English and containing many questions relating to baseball or other aspects of Americana) of World War I army recruits as pseudo-scientific proof of the mental inferiority of immigrants, the progressives pushed through laws in the 1920s sharply restricting the immigration of Jews, Slavs, Italians, and other Southern and Eastern Europeans into the United States.

The same crowd created environmentalism as a political movement in order to restrict access to America’s natural resources. They also created the federal bureaucracy as a way of restricting Americans’ personal liberty. Thus, if you go to the redwood forest in California today, you will encounter a plaque to the three leaders of the Save the Redwoods League, Madison Grant, Henry Fairfield Osborn, and Charles Merriam. All three were eugenicists and personal associates of Theodore Roosevelt, progressivism’s founding father. Grant was also vice president of the Immigration Restriction League and the author of the Aryan-supremacist classic, The Passing of the Great Race.

Osborn was the vice president of the American Eugenics Society and president of the American Museum of Natural History. In his remarkable keynote speech to the Third International Congress on Eugenics held at the museum in 1932, Osborn drew the connection between environmentalism, immigration restriction, and eugenics clearly by stating that overpopulation by allegedly inferior people (including in the United States, with a population of 125 million) was causing resource destruction and unemployment. Two years later, Osborn received the Goethe Medal from Adolf Hitler, but then died, leaving his part in the cause to be carried on by his son, Fairfield Osborn, who kicked off the postwar environmentalist movement with his 1948 bestseller Our Plundered Planet, and his nephew, American Eugenics Society president Frederick Osborn, who, together with John D. Rockefeller III, founded the population control movement flagship Population Council in 1952. It is from this rotten tree that the anti-immigration movement has sprung.

A rotten tree cannot bear good fruit.

America is not a race state. It is a country defined by a set of ideas, and when people choose to accept those ideas they become Americans, as fully so as any -- and perhaps more so than most -- regardless of how recently they or their ancestors arrived upon our shores. If you peruse the roll call of the nation’s leaders in science, engineering, medicine, industry, business, literature, soldiering, and politics (including, most definitely, conservative journalism), you will see many names whose presence on these shores the eugenicists would have precluded if they could. Yet they are here, along with myriads of others of their many kinds, and this nation would not be remotely as vibrant, inventive, prosperous, or powerful without them.

This is the true American tradition, which, as conservatives, we must defend, regardless of the antics of demagogues who seek to drive us down another course. Societies become decadent when they abandon their formative principle. We should not abandon ours, which is inclusion and growth, not exclusion and stasis. Americans are not weaklings who need to cower behind an exclusionary curtain, shivering in fear that if too many join us there might not be enough sinecures to go around. Rather, our continuing custom should be to bravely welcome new talent into our ranks, sure in our knowledge, and in our faith, that the more of us there are, the more opportunities we can create, and the more great things we can do.

Americans comprise 4 percent of the world’s population, yet are responsible for half its inventions. Consequently the world needs more Americans, and so do we.