Monday, March 20, 2017

Statutes and Statues

This author, writing about Canada's welcome mat for refugees, hits on a basic reality of our immigration policy that should be obvious:

Inscriptions on statues do not actually carry the force of law. There’s nothing in the American character that says we have to welcome anybody who wants to come here, just as there’s nothing in the American character that says we have to be either hawkish or isolationist.

Yes. We don't actually have to welcome your tired and poor. That's just a poem.

For a long time we did just that, actually. Which was fine. America had a long history of needing warm bodies. So even huddled masses could easily be put to needed work. That policy was in America's interest. And it is a necessary linkage:

The United States was built from immigrants, beginning with the English at Jamestown. America celebrated immigrants, but three things were demanded from them, two laid down by Thomas Jefferson. First, they were expected to learn English, the common tongue. Second, they were expected to understand the civic order and be loyal to it. The third element was not Jefferson’s. It was that immigrants had to find economic opportunity. Immigration only works when this opportunity exists. Without that, the immigrants remain the huddled masses, the wretched refuse etched on the Statue of Liberty. Immigrants don’t want to go where no economic opportunities exist, and welcoming immigrants heedless of the economic consequences leaves both immigrants and the class they will compete with desperate and bitter. [emphasis added]

Do read it all. [I actually added in the above quote and the sentence introducing that linkage point well after I wrote this post but before it was scheduled. Good timing on Friedman's part!]

It has been a long time since America has been desperate for warm bodies. So we can change our policies on how many we let in.

Look, I'm pro-immigrant. I've long said in this blog that America is a nation of ideas and not of blood and soil. Anybody can be an American if they accept our ideas. So I don't worry about the ethnic, racial, or national origin of new Americans. America will be America regardless of who is the majority as long as the idea of being an American is promoted and people yearning to breathe free are those who come here.

What I am not is pro-illegal immigration. We have the right to control our borders to make sure that the number of and background of legal immigrants benefits America.

The poem welcoming all is on the Statue of Liberty, remember.  Whatever immigration policy we have and whatever numbers we accept should not undermine the liberty that the statue celebrates.

And besides, I thought America under Trump was preparing to round up immigrants to put in concentration camps. Shouldn't Hollywood celebrities be leading refugees across the border to Canada for their safety in a new underground railroad?