Illegal Immigration: Elite Illiberality. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, June 17, 2013. Also at Real Clear Politics.
Immigration: If the Bill Passes. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, June 23, 2013.
Hanson (Elite Illiberality):
divide over immigration reform is not primarily a Left/Right or
Democratic/Republican divide; instead, it cuts, and sharply so, across class
lines. Elites blur the distinction between legal and illegal immigration to
ensure that the opponents of the latter appear to be against the former. They
talk grandly of making legal immigration meritocratic, but fall silent when
asked to what degree. They talk darkly of racist subtexts in the arguments of
their opponents, but skip over the overt ethnic chauvinism of proponents of
amnesty; they decry conservative paranoia over a new demography, but never
liberal euphoria over just such a planned reset. They talk deprecatingly of
rubes who do not understand the new global realties, but never of their own
parochialism ensconced in New York or Washington or San Francisco. They talk of
reactionaries who do not fathom the ins and outs of the debate; never of their
own willful ignorance of the realities on the ground in East L.A. or southwest
elites favor de facto amnesty for a variety of self-interested reasons. For the
corporate echelon, creating a guest-worker program and granting amnesty —
without worrying about securing the border first — ensures continued access to
millions of cheap laborers from Latin America. The United States may be
suffering the most persistent unemployment since the Great Depression. There
may be an unemployment rate of over 15 percent in many small towns in the
American Southwest. American businesses may be flush with record amounts of
cash, and farm prices may be at record levels. But we are still lectured that
without cheap labor from south of the border, businesses simply cannot profit.
is the exploitation of illegal labor. Hard-working young Latin Americans, most
of them from the interior of Mexico, cross the border illegally, usually to
find jobs that pay over five times more per hour than anything they could find
in Mexico, yet still less than the employer would have to pay an American.
Between the ages of 18 and 40, illegal immigrants are among the hardest-working
laborers in the world. However, the traditional entry-level jobs — picking
peaches, nailing shingles, mowing lawns, changing diapers, cooking, making beds
— for those without legality, education, or English often become a permanent
employers appreciate the myriad advantages of hiring illegal immigrants.
Although supporters of amnesty are bold in leveling charges of illiberality
against their critics, the unspoken truth is that insistence on access to cheap
labor is about as reactionary and unethical as one can imagine. Off the record,
employers will admit they are reluctant to hire jobless African-American
youths, although the black community is suffering historic levels of
unemployment. They are not even eager to hire second-generation Hispanics, who,
according to the employers’ creed, have lost the firsthand memory of crushing
Mexican poverty and thus their parents’ desperate work ethic.
employers want a continuing influx of young workers who will undercut the wages
of American citizens. That the bargaining power of other minorities, Latino-
and African-American citizens especially, is undercut by illegal labor matters
little. How odd that elite Republicans pander to Latino grandees to win perhaps
35 percent of the Latino vote; that the party garners no more than 5 percent of
the much larger African-American vote is never discussed. In the bizarre logic
of the Republican elite, you must cater to the Hispanic elite in order to
siphon votes from the liberal Latino bloc, while the much more important black
demographic is simply written off. Is there one Republican politician who is
more worried about the plight of unemployed African-American citizens than he
is about granting amnesty to foreign nationals who broke U.S. laws to come
do not care that the presence of 11 million illegal aliens has driven down
entry-level wages. They are not concerned about the depressing cycle of
illegal-immigrant labor: The young male from Latin America works
extraordinarily hard for 20 years. But by the time he’s 40, he is married with
children, and discovering that without education, English, or skill sets, he
has no way forward.
backs that were near superhuman at 25 are often shot at 50. When the
45-year-old illegal alien can no longer pick, or cook, or rake as he once did,
the employer loses interest, and the state steps in to provide him with rough
parity through subsidies for housing, health care, food, and legal assistance,
and meanwhile it has been educating his children. Because second-generation
immigrants are deemed less industrious than their worn-out fathers and mothers
— and Hispanic males in California graduate from high school at little more
than a 60 percent rate — the need arises for another round of young hardy
workers from Latin America.
times, this depressing cycle of exploitation was justified by low unemployment
or ongoing wars that siphoned off American manpower. But why the need for
imported labor in times of near-record joblessness, relative peace, and
often-record profits? The elites simply turn a blind eye to out-of-work
Americans, the low wages of illegal laborers, and the cynicism of using up human
capital and letting the state pick up the subsequent social costs. How odd that
profit-making from cheap labor is considered liberal, while concern for
low-paid American workers is written off as xenophobia.
elites talk of nativism and racism as being what fuels opposition to their
brand of comprehensive immigration reform. Yet I doubt that the wealthy Silicon
Valley residents who clamor for “reform” send their children to public schools.
Indeed, in the fashion of the Southern academies that popped up in the 1960s
during court-ordered busing, Silicon Valley is currently experiencing an
explosion in private schools.
Google, and Facebook 1-percenters are much too sophisticated to call these
booming apartheid prep schools “academies,” but they are burgeoning in reaction
to worries that the flood of illegal service workers from Latin America has
finally lapped up to the outskirts of Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Once-topnotch
public schools like Menlo-Atherton are now whispered about as “problematic,”
given the growing enrollment of the children of illegal aliens.
truth, do not expect Washington politicians, La Raza leaders, or agribusiness
owners to send their children to the Sanger school system in the outskirts of
Fresno, or to enroll them in Cal State Bakersfield. Their elite status mostly
exempts them from the ramifications of their own ideology in a myriad of ways.
If taxes must rise in California to pay for one-third of the nation’s welfare
recipients, or to prop up public schools that have descended to 48th in the
nation in math and English test scores, or to bring some parity to the nation’s
highest percentage of people below the poverty line, most of the elite can
afford the increases. For some, the higher taxes even become a sort of penance
— a kind of abstract generosity necessary to expiate their unwillingness to
assimilate, integrate, and intermarry in the concrete.
forget the tire-store owner and the electrical contractor who have no such
margin of error, and are written off as mean-spirited for resenting rising
taxes to pay for soaring subsidies to the growing immigrant underclass. That
the caricatured Neanderthal followers of Sarah Palin resent the social costs of
illegal immigration and the fact that their children’s education is directly
affected by the entry of millions of new non-English-speakers is, well, their
every aspect of illegal immigration is illiberal to the core. Respect for the
law? The elite decides that for a particular political constituency, the law is
now fluid. If you are a Bulgarian M.D. and overstay your visa, beware. A Korean
engineer wouldn’t dare to fly to Mexico City and cross illegally into Arizona.
Without ethnic bosses and millions of compatriots within our borders, all
others are lawbreakers subject to deportation.
well over $30 billion in remittances leaves the U.S. economy each year to prop
up the Mexican and other Latin American economies is an afterthought. Indeed,
Mexico is romanticized as an aggrieved partner, not excoriated as cynically
opportunist for printing comic books to instruct its own citizens how to break
U.S. law. How liberal is it to assist citizens to leave their own homeland,
while assuming that they are almost certainly illiterate and thus need
suggest that Mexico exports human capital in lieu of engaging in social reform,
to suggest that indigenous peoples are the most likely to want to leave
Mexico’s often racist social stratification, to suggest that Mexico does not
care that its own expatriates suffer and scrimp to send back billions of
dollars in cash to those ignored by the Mexican government, to suggest that
Mexico appreciates that its citizens are more likely to cheer their homeland
the longer they are away from it — all of this is considered reactionary and
perhaps racist or at least culturally biased. But it is also absolutely true:
Mexico, not the U.S., is the illiberal player in this entire sordid trafficking
in human capital.
and American employers are not the only cynics in this drama. The La Raza elite
understands well that only yearly massive infusions of the impoverished across
the perpetually open border ensure a changed demography, anchored by a
permanent Spanish-speaking underclass and periodically recharged by new illegal
immigrants. Without massive immigration, the Latino population goes the way of
the Italian or Greek community. Intermarriage, assimilation, and integration
would gradually make the Chicano Studies department about as relevant as the
Italian Studies department, La Raza about as catchy as La Razza, and the
third-generation Hispanic with the accented last name about as much a minority
in need of diversity favoritism as Rudy Giuliani’s son. How odd that illegal immigration
is fueled by ethnic chauvinism, while those who criticize it are called
ethnically biased. How could a Chicano Studies professor cite endemic poverty
as a reason for federal attention if Mexican-Americans followed the Armenian-
or Polish-American paradigm — and, of course, they soon would without the
regular infusions of additional illegal immigrants.
we have created an absurd situation in which a resident of Oaxaca, often
fleeing racial and class oppression in Mexico, becomes defined as a victim of
American pathologies the nanosecond he crosses the border. In turn, America,
the generous host, is reinvented as a culpable oppressor that has treated the
illegal alien so badly that his children deserve job and college-admission
preference. Mexico likewise must be reinvented, from the exporter of
superfluous human beings to the liberal champion of its stolen human assets.
there is the elite of the American Southwest, who believe that they are new
17th-century French aristocracy, entitled to $8-to-$10-an-hour nannies,
gardeners, housekeepers, maids, and occasional day laborers. There are millions
of white, Asian, Latino-American, and African-American youths out of work. We
are simply told publicly that most of them would not do such work, and
apparently if they did, they would not be trustworthy.
the tragedy of illegal immigration is that it becomes the cornerstone for
hundreds of agendas: those of the self-interested Mexican government,
exploitative American employers, the new ethnic chauvinists, the upper middle
classes who deem themselves lords of the manor, and, yes, the elite whose
professions are as noble as their deeds are not.
Americans do not object to providing a green card to those who came to work,
stayed off public assistance, did not commit crimes, and did not recently
arrive in search of amnesty. They do not even object to offering a pathway to
eventual citizenship to immigrants who pay a fine for their illegal entry,
learned English, and go to the back of the legal-immigration line. But all this
is a hypothetical if the border is not first secured — if we cannot guarantee
that 2013 does not become another 1986, meaning that some future date will be a
replay of 2013.
are to offer a second chance to the majority of illegal immigrants who, apart
from their illegal entry, otherwise played by the rules, there must not be a
second chance for the minority who broke all of them.
meantime, for those who profit both materially and psychologically from
something that largely benefits the elite and hurts the mass, at least spare us
the hypocritical aspersions and bottled pieties.
Hanson (If the Bill Passes):
and illiberal immigration exists and will continue to expand because too many
special interests are invested in it. It is one of those rare anomalies — the
farm bill is another — that crosses political party lines and instead unites
disparate elites through their diverse but shared self-interests:
live-and-let-live profits for some and raw political power for others. For
corporate employers, millions of poor foreign nationals ensure cheap labor,
with the state picking up the eventual social costs. For Democratic politicos,
illegal immigration translates into continued expansion of favorable political
demography in the American Southwest. For ethnic activists, huge annual
influxes of unassimilated minorities subvert the odious melting pot and mean
continuance of their own self-appointed guardianship of salad-bowl
multiculturalism. Meanwhile, the upper middle classes in coastal cocoons enjoy
the aristocratic privileges of having plenty of cheap household help, while
having enough wealth not to worry about the social costs of illegal immigration
in terms of higher taxes or the problems in public education, law enforcement,
wonder our elites wink and nod at the supposed realities in the current
immigration bill, while selling fantasies to the majority of skeptical