Reflections on Wise and Suicidal Immigration

Legal immigration has historically been classically liberal and a great boon for the United States.

Immigrants often bring in energy and fresh ideas.

In the past, newcomers from around the world were eager for a second start in the United States. They nearly all worked hard, reminding American-born citizens that that they can never rest on their laurels.

Immigrants honed American competition and helped to keep the nation productive.

Immigrants were typically hyper-patriotic. They reminded complacent Americans how lucky they were to be born in the U.S.

No one knew better how uninviting were the alternatives abroad than did those who had been forced to live under fascism, communism, totalitarianism, tribalism, or endemic poverty and corruption. Most immigrants believed that they always had been Americans in spirit, just unfortunately born in the wrong country.

Immigrants characteristically had rejected their native cultures and were eager to adopt a new American identity. So they were not foolish enough to question what had made America attractive to them in the first place: constitutional government, the rule of law, personal freedom, free-market capitalism, and an independent judiciary and press.

Instead, immigrants often enriched that immutable Western core with diverse contributions of food, music, literature, and art.

Through integration and intermarriage immigrants quickly became part of the American dream. The path from Italian to Italian-American to American usually was completed in two generations.

What then were the ingredients of past successful American immigration policy?

Four enlightened rules.

One, immigrants came legally. Breaking the law was a lousy way to start American residency. How can an immigrant continue to respect and follow his adopted country’s legal system when his first act as an American resident is to mock federal law?