In California, Immigration Is The Real Terminator

Not the least of the evils of the improbable emergence of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a political candidate is that, after years of having to endure journalists' over-worked sport with Ronald Reagan's "Where's the rest of me" and Charlton Heston's roles as Moses and Ben Hur, we now must put up with an endless series of not-very-clever puns on Mr. Schwarzenegger's not-very-good films, the titles of most of which rather easily lend themselves to bad political wordplay: "Conan the Barbarian," "Total Recall," and the interminable "Terminator" movies.

Nevertheless, relief may already loom on the horizon.

Relief in this case is the distinct possibility that by the time of California's special gubernatorial election on October 7, there may not be anyone left in the state to vote in it.

Last week the Los Angeles Times reported that in the last years of the twentieth century, the state actually lost population. "More than 1.4 million people in the U.S. migrated to California from 1995 to 2000, while 2.2 million left - the highest migration numbers in the country," the paper noted, an exodus that one demographer labels "unprecedented." [California Is Seen in Rearview Mirror, August 6, 2003 By Susannah Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times]

The stereotype of California in the American mind has long been that it's the place you go where you've already been everywhere else --the final destination for transcontinental pilgrims from the Gold Rush to Hollywood glitter.

What is unprecedented is that that image is now fading -- along with the people who created it.

And why exactly is it that so many people are leaving the Golden State? The Times really doesn't say.

Another demographer it interviewed suggested as reasons such problems as "housing costs, economic factors and relocation of retirees." Swell, but why are those problems that afflict California in particular?

Could it just possibly be that mass immigration from Mexico and Central America has something to do with it?

Naw, it couldn't possibly be that the arrival of about 12 million immigrants into the state in the last few decades has contributed to overcrowding, less available and affordable housing, higher taxes, more crime, more congestion, and a quality of life that older Americans, who remember a different style of living, would like to avoid.

"The No. 1 reason people move to and from California is because of jobs," the demographer told the paper. All those Americans who refuse to take the jobs the immigrants do, you see, are packing up and leaving the state -- to look for jobs in places where there are fewer immigrants to take them.

Of course, the Open Borders lobby always told us that wouldn't happen, that there would be jobs for everyone regardless of mass immigration.

Well, you know how reliable the Open Borders lobby is.

The theory that mass immigration may have encouraged Californians to pack up and get out is not simply my own wild surmise. As long ago as 1995, in an article in the New York Times Magazine, University of Michigan demographer William H. Frey and reporter Jonathan Tilove wrote about the flight of Americans (mainly whites) from larger metropolitan areas:

"For every immigrant who arrives [in large metropolitan areas], a white person leaves. Look collectively at the New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Boston metropolitan areas—5 of the top 11 immigration destinations. In the last half of the 80's, for every 10 immigrants who arrived, 9 residents left for points elsewhere. And most of those leaving were non-Hispanic whites.... The places that whites were leaving for were metro areas like Tampa-St. Petersburg, Seattle, Phoenix, Atlanta and Las Vegas, all of which attract relatively few immigrants."

The Los Angeles Times article last week noted that the California fugitives were moving to places like "Nevada, Arizona and Texas," more or less the same places Professor Frey and his co-author mentioned.

What the Times has apparently just noticed happening in California has been going on for years, and as Professor Frey and Mr. Tilove pointed out, "The trend constitutes a new, larger form of white flight." Back in the 1960s, whites fled their neighborhoods and moved to the suburbs as housing was desegregated. Then they fled the suburbs and either created new ones or moved to the country.

Now they are fleeing entire states. Sooner or later they will start leaving the country itself.

It's probably too much to ask that Mr. Schwarzenegger, let alone any of his rivals in the coming election, will try to call attention to the impact that mass immigration has already inflicted on the state they want to govern. A good many of the people who might have voted for a candidate who talked seriously about immigration have probably already left.

For those who are still there by October 7, it probably makes little difference any more for whom they vote or who actually wins.

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[Sam Francis [email him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection of his columns, America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available from Americans For Immigration Control. Click here for Sam Francis' website.]