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Monday, 24 May 2010

Thinking Rationally About Immigration

Thinking Rationally About Immigration

Who should be admitted to live in our countries? We are told often how much immigrants contribute to our countries, both economically and culturally. We all hear the old saw about, “we are a nation of immigrants,” which is truly ludicrous in the UK but less so in other nations of the Anglosphere. We are told that we have a positive need for immigrants, even though our eyes and common sense tell us otherwise. Finally, we are sent on guilt trips, saying that we have a moral obligation to accept immigrants.
In a recent article by Johann Hari in The Independent titled “Islamists, their victims, and hypocrisy,” some aspects of this question are examined . In his article, Hari discusses the cases of two recent applications for asylum in the UK that have rejected, and known two Pakistani al–Qa’ida members who are going to be allowed to remain in the UK. One asylum application refused is from a young lesbian (age 27) in Iran who fears for her life and thought she should be allowed to come to the UK where she could live freely. The second refused asylum application is from a 29 year old Pakistani man who has written atheist tracts online, and now fears for his life in Pakistan. He thinks he should be allowed to come to the UK where he can be free to pursue his atheism. Each of those refused were told to stay where they were and “live discrete lives.” Hari says that the trial that determined that the two al–Qa’ida members were such was “a Kafka–trial” where the defendants were not allowed to hear the evidence against them. This seems like a strange allegation to level at a trial that the defendants essentially won, event though they were convicted. They seem to have achieved all substantive goals, so I’m not sure what more was wanted.

Hari then goes on to make a strong argument that, when people in the West deal justly and mercifully with Muslims, it has a far bigger impact on them than any other way we might deal with them. Somehow, he has shifted the argument to be about whether to torture or not, which really is not the same question as whether to admit immigrants or not, but in Hari’s mind, it seems to be the same. And then he comes to his closing paragraph, which I quote:

Brave, bold voices like Kiana and Amit’s do more to undermine Islamic fundamentalism than a thousand bomber–planes that only vindicate the Bin Laden narrative for so many. By sending these remarkable dissidents to die, we aren’t only betraying them – we are endangering ourselves.

It is a nice summation of his argument, and it has some truth in it, but we need to examine it further. (Kiana and Amit were the two who were refuse entry into the UK.) These two people are definitely the products of their own societies. They have taken their stands (lesbianism, atheism) in defiance of their societies of their own free will. I do not for a moment wish to deny them that choice, but I do wish to emphasize that it is their choice, and that their choice has consequences that are their own to bear. Those consequences should not become the burden of anyone else, and most especially not of any other nation.

With respect to Hari’s contention that they will do so much more good if they live, I have to say that they will do the most good if they live in their own societies, rather than hiding in the safety of the West. They should not be in the West, creating ill will for us with the Muslim world, but rather they should be in the Muslim world working reform there. The only way the Muslim world will change is when Muslims make that change; it will not happen from the outside. How many Muslims do you think Ayaan Hirsi reaches?

It is right that these people were denied entry into the UK; they made choices and they must live with the consequences of those choices. It would also be right, if it has been correctly determined that the other two are truly members of al–Qa’ida, which was a choice on their part, to face the consequences of that choice. Life is full of choices, and we do not get to start over, but rather we have to continue to play our hand, based on our previous choices, including mistakes.

But back to the original question, who should be admitted to live in our countries? Long ago, when more rational thinking prevailed on all subjects, and particularly on matters of national sovereignty, nations made decisions about whom to admit as immigrants on the basis of the interests of the host nation. Generally speaking, the host nation considered the assets that the would–be immigrant would bring to the host nation in terms of wealth, knowledge, various skills, and some times simply brute force manpower. But it was the needs of the host nation that determined whether the immigrant was accepted, not the desires of the immigrant.

I am sure that the word refugee has been in the English language for a very long time, but I think it really began to have major significance after WW I. There were large number of dislocated people in Europe, more than ever before, with the breakup of the Hapsburg Empire and the Ottoman Empire. All of this expanded many fold after WW II with more displaced people all over the world. The idea of refugees has be employed to play on Christian sympathies to permanently accept people from all over the world into our nations, bringing completely misfit elements into our societies. This continues apace today at an accelerating rate today with many coming from Africa and the Middle East. I think it is necessary to ask the question, “are these people truly refugees, or are they time bombs, waiting to explode?”

There are parts of the world where on–going warfare has been the norm forever. This is true in parts of Africa and elsewhere. If you pluck someone up from there, it is probably correct to call that person a “refugee” in some sense. But moving those people somewhere else in the world does not make them peaceful, civilized people, it just moves the war somewhere else. We have seen this with the large numbers of Somalis transported to Minnesota who are now terrorizing the people of Minneapolis–St. Paul just like they were back in Somalia. They did not all become Americans of Swedish and Norwegian descent when they landed in Minnesota, strange to say, and Garrison Kellior does not know what to say about them being the good liberal that he is.

Since the earliest colonial days in America, people have immigrated to the US. For a long time, there were no restrictions at all on who could come, but eventually laws were passed limiting the number who could come each year from each country. At almost any point along either the northern or southern border of the US, you can literally simply walk across the border; there are no physical barriers at all in most places. For most of our history, there has been no problem, with either of our neighbors, and there is still no problem with Canada. Mexico is a different matter, however.

Mexico has vast internal problems, and rather than seek to solve their own problems, their solution has been to send much of their population to the US to earn money to send back to Mexico. This has been going on for at least forty years with the connivance of the US government as well. The US government has simply stopped enforcing the immigration laws, although the laws remain on the books. As a consequence, many thousands of Mexicans stream into the US illegally every day. They often come in as “mules” carrying illegal drugs, but then go on to take low skill jobs at low wages that are often paid in cash. In most cases, no taxes are paid on these wages, and it is an entirely off the record transaction. Much of the money is sent back to Mexico by wire transfer. They live on food stamps and various types of welfare in many cases, they use the hospital emergency rooms for all of their healthcare needs (they cannot be turned away there, even if they say they cannot pay), they often turn to thievery, rape, and murder. Even those that “succeed” in the sense that they find stable employment and establish a home, usually do not learn English and develop no loyalty at all to the US, always thinking of themselves only as Mexicans even to the third and fourth generations.

Some will have heard of the new Arizona immigration law that has caused quite a furor. I have read the whole law, all seventeen pages of it. It is very bland reading, and it simply says, in very plain English, that local law enforcement is authorized and indeed required to enforce the federal immigration law. It does not permit any of the undue stops or searches that people are so upset about, indeed they are prohibited. People say, “but it might be enforced that way.” Well, yes, a policeman might stop you any time and mistreat you, but how often does it happen? There are severe penalties for the policeman that does such things. The state of Arizona is simply trying to protect its people, to do the job that the federal government has long neglected to do. The citizens of Arizona have been subject to the most amazing dangers and harassments and this is long overdue.

With regard to the central question of whom should be admitted to our countries, I would like to adduce two principal statements:

1. We should only admit those who bring a positive benefit to the host country. There is no obligation to admit anyone at anytime, no matter what their pleading may be. Life is unfair, we have to life the life we are given.

2. The people of the third world, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, etc., must all stay where they are and fix their own broken societies. Anglo–Saxons cannot do it for them. They would not accept it if we tried, and we should not feel that we have any obligation to try. This does not mean that we should not be willing to help in moderation, but the prime responsibility rest squarely with them. We discourage them from doing this most necessary task if we shelter them in our countries.