On Krikorian`s New Case Against Immigration: What Was Wrong With The Old Case?
According to Krikorian there wasn`t an
"old case against immigration," but rather many
different cases against immigration. Some
were based on
national security; others on
culture or sovereignty; some on the effect on wages;
others on population and the environment. Krikorian
acknowledges that all these objections are perfectly
legitimate, but proposes a "unified field theory of
As ambitious as this sounds, what
Krikorian really tries to do is to take a few
unobjectionable principles typical of a "modern
society", such as a
shared national identity, a
large middle class with some upward mobility, basic
environmental stewardship etc., all of which with
which 80% of the population regardless of political
orientation agree, and explain how mass immigration
When going through each of these issues,
he does a bit of summarizing the work of others, such as
George Borjas, but he comes up with many original
One of the best parts of the book are
his answers to the "Why can`t we have mass
immigration if we get rid of ____."
For example, many
libertarians say the problem is
not immigration, but welfare. The obvious retort to
that is: "We`ll talk when we end the welfare state"—which,
Krikorian says, like it or not, is here to stay. Even if
the size of government were cut in half, and the
immigrants paid the same amount of taxes they do now,
they`d still be a significant fiscal burden.
For those who suggest that welfare be
cut off specifically for immigrants, but not for the
general population, Krikorian notes that this was tried
with welfare reform, without success. Furthermore, a
huge chunk of the costs of illegal immigrants comes in
the form of health care, education and criminal justice.
If immigrants are denied these basic services while
still living in this country, it will even further
exacerbate the problem of the
Similar arguments are made by
neoconservatives who say the problem is
multiculturalism, not immigration. Krikorian retorts
that the newer immigrant children are getting their
education in schools "more likely to engage in a
deliberate process of de-Americanization"—by which
he no doubt means the kind of education typified by the
Sacajawea, and the
Trail of Tears.
He could have added that immigrants
support both welfare and multiculturalism politically—so
their increasing numbers will further entrench these
On national security, Krikorian goes through
the usual arguments about how flaws in our visa and
entry-exit system, as well as our lack of border
security makes us vulnerable to terrorism. He then makes the obvious—but often overlooked point—that fixing
these problems would be a lot easier if we just had
fewer foreigners in the country. He uses Mao`s line
"The people are like water and the army is like fish"
to explain how
large Muslim enclaves—even if the residents are law
abiding—make it easier for
terrorists to blend in undetected.
In these areas,
Krikorian does do a very good job at synthesizing the
"old" arguments, with some of his own to come up
with a coherent case against mass immigration.
But there is one "old
case against immigration" that Krikorian does not
incorporate in his unified field theory: opposition to
the massive ethno-demographic change created by
post-1965 immigration. Krikorian cites
Peter Brimelow`s 1995
Alien Nation and Pat Buchanan`s State of Emergency
to dismiss them as evidence that this concern is
Indeed, Krikorian sounds
no different than any Open Borders advocate when he
claims that various European immigrants who were once
ended up assimilating , and are hence proof that
all immigrants can assimilate. According to
Krikorian, "today`s raw material for assimilation—the
immigrants from Asia and Latin America—is not
[quoting Peter Brimelow] `systematically
different from anything that had gone before` but
instead a continuation of the expansion of `Us.`"
Krikorian`s book even
opens: "It`s not the immigrants—it`s us. What`s
different about immigration today as opposed to a
century ago is not the characteristics of the
But in fact Krikorian
gives us many reasons that suggest
the source of today`s immigrants
give us problems that the earlier wave did not.
In this sense, his book
is eerily reminiscent of the Brezhnev era in the Soviet
Union: intellectuals could
deviate from the Party line—so long as they
paid lip service to it at the beginning and the end
of whatever they wrote.
He notes that when
immigration enthusiasts praise the diversity of our
newcomers, they mean that they aren`t white. In reality
our immigrant population is quite un-diverse: it is
And Mexicans are not the
easiest group to assimilate. Krikorian`s chapter
"Mass Immigration vs. National Sovereignty" might as
well be called "Mexico vs. National Sovereignty."
Although he briefly discusses NAFTA and the North
American Union, the bulk of what he reports is Mexican
interference in almost every aspect of our laws and
Krikorian calls the Mexican surge of
immigration "Drang nach Norden" ["Drive Toward
comparing it to the
demographic invasion of German immigrants into
Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages. He does not think
there will be an actual
Reconquista of Aztlan in the sense of an
active secessionist movement. But he perceives a
"greater threat"—the Mexican government expanding
its power beyond its borders and acquiring "authority
over the decision making of federal, state, and local
governments all over the United States."
Krikorian goes through the litany of
quotes from prominent Mexican leaders urging Mexican
emigrants and their descendants to have loyalty to the
motherland, as well as American citizen politicians and
professors who make it clear they are listening. He then
gives numerous examples of how Mexican government
meddles in our affairs far beyond lobbying for
amnesty. These include funding bilingual education,
getting American schools to use
Mexican textbooks, intervening in
criminal prosecutions, and giving
illegal aliens ID cards to be used in the U.S.
Furthermore, Krikorian notes that while
Mexico is the most meddlesome government, they have
successfully created a "Pan-Hispanic" identity
among all their co-ethnics in the U.S. against the
Gringo. While Krikorian nominally espouses
color-blindness, he thoughtfully supplies an entire
section on Hispanic "ethnic chauvinism" by groups
Incredibly, Krikorian concludes this
chapter by saying we should not blame Mexico—there is
nothing extraordinary about what it doing. He suggests
that many of the actions of the
Italian government during
the Mussolini era mirrored those of Mexico.
But there are some very
critical differences that Krikorian does not mention.
Italy does not share a border with the United States.
Italians have no
historical or ethnic grudge against the United
Italians were able to successfully integrate into
our economy and society. And, of course, this
assimilation was helped by the
Great Cut-Off of the 1920s (which Krikorian actually mentions elsewhere).
And what was so great
about Mussolini anyway?
This blind spot infects other parts of the book.
Krikorian attributes today`s immigrants` lack of upward
social mobility compared to those in the past solely to
changes in America. Both came from rural peasant
societies. But today`s immigrants are faced with an
information economy compared to an industrial economy
for those in the past. However this problem does not
apply to all immigrants today. Both Asian and Eastern
European immigrants manage quite well even if they came
from a rural background.
All this said, most of Krikorian`s policy proscriptions
are sensible. He calls for dramatically lowering the
total amount of legal immigration by
limiting family reunification to spouses and dependent
children, and cutting off almost
all employment based visas except for "aliens of
extraordinary ability"—meaning those who have
"unique, remarkable abilities and would make an enormous
contribution to the productive capacity of a nation",
He tosses out the idea of having a minimum IQ of 140.
calls for rejecting any form of amnesty and for slowly
having illegal aliens removed from the country through
strategy“—ending illegal aliens` access to jobs;
increasing deportations, promoting cooperation
state and local law enforcement and the DHS; and
And while Krikorian is not willing to defend
restrictionism based on changing demographics, he has
publicly said that his policies may well have
"disparate impacts" on different races—which
would change the ethnic balance of the immigrant influx.
Krikorian is a policy wonk, not an activist. His book
does not make any suggestions as to how to get the
politicians to enact our policies. The problem isn`t
we don`t have the people on our side; it`s that
their voices are not being heard. Although we have a
long way to go, the fact that thousands and of
thousands of angry Americans were able to shutdown the
Senate switchboard with the sheer volume of their calls
has managed to stop a few amnesties and even get
E-verify reauthorized. The
best thing we can do is make more Americans more angry.
The New Case Against Immigration
is well worth reading for immigration reform patriots
who would like to bulk up on their
debating skills. If you have a bookish open borders
friend or family member who you`d like to convert, it
will make them think twice about their positions. Unlike
books like State of Emergency,
however, it won`t make them angry.
And anger is what is what it`s going to take patriotic
immigration reform enacted.
Marcus Epstein [send
him mail] is the founder of the
Robert A Taft Club and the executive director of the
Team America PAC. A selection of his articles can be
views he expresses are his own.