Open Admission Policies
Virginia I. Postrel's "Honest Admission" in the November issue left out one very important difference between immigration in the "days of Ellis Island" and immigration today. To those coming through Ellis Island, America was a land of opportunity and freedom, and that was all that was offered. Today we "bribe" people with offers of welfare of all kinds. Those seeking "honest" work and opportunity are not nearly the problem as are those looking only for a handout.
With the climate of the First Amendment hospitable to people who have ideas we desperately need, immigration is vital! If you argue that intellectual capital is becoming relatively more important than money capital, we must create a climate that attracts it. That's immigration.
Political nationalists and others should remember that other
than Native Americans, all of us are immigrants--it's just
a matter of when we got of the boat. America is the only country that renews itself with this energy, skill, and intellectual capital that migrates to our shores. That's why we will survive and prosper where closed societies that keep people away from their borders will have a difficult time.
Gordon J. Lee
As a legal immigrant I appreciate the generous impulse behind the open-arms, open-borders immigration policy advocated in your November issue. However, to allow free--that is, uncontrolled and unrestricted--immigration is a policy that no American government can adopt. A nation has the right as well as the duty to control its own borders. Without that control a nation is not in charge of its own destiny. History is full of examples of nations being overrun by uninvited outsiders. Some of the nations benefited from the infusion of new blood and some did not. In either case the destiny of the nation was taken out of the hands of the native population.
The United States could have a relatively open immigration policy in the past when immigrants knew that a newcomer had to work or starve. That knowledge screened out a lot of people. Today, new immigrants come because they know that they can live better here than in their own country whether they work or not. This is an invitation that no sensible person (not necessarily an ambitious one) living in a poorer country can resist.
Unfortunately, the United States is in no position to give a job or a welfare check to all the poor people of the world. Does that mean that we must tell workers that "they must stay where there is no work, seekers of liberty they must endure dictatorship, parents they cannot seek a better life for their children?"
Yes--because each nation, including the United States, has to solve its own unemployment problem, its own political problems, its own family problems. The nations of the world will not solve their problems by sending their unemployed and their political enemies to the United States. Nor is the United States in a position to integrate them into a society that is already overburdened with economic, ethnic, and family problems.
Let's have an open-door policy but let's admit into our house only those who are here to contribute, not to take advantage of our hospitality.
Joseph S. Duarte
I strongly disagree with your November editorial regarding immigration. I believe your arguments were not based on reason, but on emotion.
There are many examples throughout history where groups of individuals of distinct religion, race, language, or other characteristics were parts of a single government and enormous human suffering was the result. In contrast, there are few examples where they mixed and enjoyed the benefits of unity. Except for blacks, the United States enjoyed that status for many years. Several forces are now rapidly wrecking this unity, to our great detriment.
We are stupid to willingly balkanize the United States. We do not owe citizenship to others. We have a strong obligation to be concerned with the well-being of our present citizens and their descendants. We need a long time to blend what we have or in some reasonable way to organize long-term peace and unity in our land. Opening our borders would be a disaster.