LifeZette asked leading experts and activists on immigration policy to address one question: Is America’s immigration system in decline?
The experts agreed the nation faces an escalating immigration and refugee crisis. They point to a lack of American political will to take on both the structural immigration challenges for the nation and to fight the radical policies pushed by the current administration as the chief culprits of the expanding crisis.
Respect for law is a cornerstone of citizenship. You play by the rules, you work hard, and you get a shot at the American dream. All that is disappearing.
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The administration’s assault on the rule of law and unprecedented unilateral action on refugees have together brought a surge of foreigners — legal and illegal — into the nation without an opportunity for assimilation.
The economic impact has also been significant. The massive increase in predominantly low-skilled laborers has contributed to stagnant wage growth for American workers and nullified much of the job gains made in the tepid economic recovery.
Here is what the experts said on the state of the U.S. immigration system:
Immigration has always posed challenges for the United States. Assimilation didn’t just happen automatically, whether for Germans who came in colonial times or Italians and Jews at the turn of the 20th century. Today’s immigrants from Latin America and Asia aren’t really all that different.
But a measure of whether America is in decline is how we cope with such challenges today. Can we limit the numbers and demand newcomers embrace our country and its values? This is harder than in the past. With cheap and easy travel and communications, managing immigration is more difficult than when the vast oceans separating us from the Old World did the job for us.
But our post-patriotic, post-American elite also lack the will to do what’s needed. In government, churches, businesses, and schools, “assimilation” and “sovereignty” are dirty words — if they’re even understood at all.
Are there enough ordinary Americans willing to push back and demand an immigration policy in the national interest? The answer will determine our nation’s rise or decline in the years to come. The upcoming election will provide part of the answer, but it is merely one battle in a long twilight struggle for American self-determination.
Mark Krikorian is president of the Center for Immigration Studies.
The U.S. immigration system is a disaster, and the administration’s utter failure to enforce basic immigration law has had catastrophic implications for public safety; national security; federal, state, and local budgets; the rule of law; and American workers.
The impact of massive illegal immigration has been especially devastating to the wage and employment levels of low-skilled workers — particularly black males. Evidence gathered by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights shows that illegal immigration reduces the wages of native-born workers by between $99 and $118 billion per year. Further, it is estimated that immigration accounts for 40 percent of the 18-percent decline in black employment rates over the last few decades.
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Illegal immigrants compete with black Americans in many of the industries in which black workers traditionally have been heavily concentrated, and that competition has had profoundly negative consequences for black employment. Since 2008, the number of working-age blacks has increased by 2 million, but the number of blacks not in the labor force has increased by the same amount. In other words, there has been no net increase in the number of black workers in the last 8 years. During the same period, however, the number of foreign-born workers employed in the U.S. grew by 4.4 million.
The political considerations driving the refusal to enforce the nation’s immigration laws are hurting America and Americans. The first and most important step in remedying this is to, at the very least, enforce the laws currently on the books.
Peter Kirsanow is an attorney, a member of the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights, and former member of the National Labor Relations Board. These comments do not necessarily reflect the position of the Commission.
Sometime in the mid-2000s, it became clear that the U.S. government had lost the ability to regulate immigration. The sheer numbers flowing through the system, coupled with administrative processing hurdles, meant for all intents and purposes the rule of law had collapsed.
I remember clearly the day when I said to myself, “When will the American people fully realize that the government really has lost the ability to control borders and regulate immigration?” The public suspects this is the case, but no one has the courage to tell them the truth.
Most immigrants want to come here because they think the U.S. works. Unlike their own countries, the police are not corrupt and one doesn’t need to bribe officials for “justice.”
Respect for law is a cornerstone of citizenship. You play by the rules, you work hard, and you get a shot at the American dream.
All that is disappearing.
As a measure of national decline, we can see the collapse in the rule of law. A diverse society like ours lacks a shared culture or tradition — or even religion — on which to anchor assimilation. Instead, the civil contract is rooted in fairness, respect for law, and a common language. These days, that’s pretty much it.
Restoring a proper understanding of the true basis of American success will never be achieved if we continue to: 1) reward lawbreaking; 2) encourage massive immigration of low-skilled workers, and; 3) sacrifice the value of citizenship on the altar of political power and greed.
Dan Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
This analysis of the state of U.S. immigration policy is the third installment of a five-part series on the question of whether America is truly in decline. The series also features leading experts on the state of U.S. foreign affairs and national security, the U.S. economy, America’s culture, and crime in the U.S.