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Wall Street (Journal) Story?
Recently the idea has come up in immigration enthusiast circles that
Mexican immigration will reach "equilibrium."
mean that as many Mexicans go back home as come to the
US, but which I suspect simply means that immigration
will slow down to the point where you can stand near
the border and not get trampled in the rush.
Advocates of this theory use the example of Puerto Rico. In the Wall
Street Journal, Michael Barone writes
population growth has slowed sharply: It will probably
not need a big increase in the number of jobs and
probably not generate such a large percentage of
immigrants to the U.S. in the 2010s as it did in the
1990s. It is possible that the flows of people across
the border will in time be in equilibrium, as the flow
of people from Puerto Rico to the mainland U.S. has
been since 1961.
The Economist of London has
picked this idea up, and quotes
Michael Barone, the author of a new book on
New Americans" (Regnery), points to Puerto Rico.
to read what Stave Sailer thought of Barone's book.]
In the 1950s, the decade of "West Side Story", the
number of Puerto Ricans in New York rose from 187,000
to 613,000. But, as Puerto Rico's economy grew,
migration fell year by year. There have been few new
migrants lately, even though Puerto Rico's GDP per
head is still only a third of the average American
As usual with immigration enthusiasts, this idea that Puerto Rican migration is in equilibrium is asserted rather than proved. The figures show that Puerto Rico has a net migration rate of -2.14 per 1000 per year, and Mexico has a net migration rate of -2.84 per 1000 per year. This means that for every million people in Mexico, 2,840 leave every year - not a significant difference equilibrium-wise.
In any case, there are differences between Mexico and Puerto Rico. Mexico is a sovereign state or "foreign country" to use the technical term. It has a hundred million people in it. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, by contrast, is United States Territory. It has only four million people.
A lengthy piece by David Martin (Puerto Rico: The
Imminent Dangers of Statehood) details the
major economic difference between Puerto Rico and
Mexico: welfare payments. According to Martin, Los
cupones, food stamps to you, have
down upon the island like manna from heaven, though
the demonstrated need hardly compared to that of the
Israelites in the desert. By 1982, with the annual
food stamp tab for Puerto Rico about to crest one
billion dollars, the Congress realized that things
were a bit out of hand. They took Puerto Rico off food
stamps and replaced it with a block grant, initially
capped at $825 million and misleadingly entitled the
Nutrition Assistance Program. Actually it was not
misleading until Romero, who by that time was in his
second term as governor, got through with it. To
"save administrative costs," he did not
institute his own program of food stamps with the
money. He simply had his Department of Social Services
send those families deemed eligible a monthly check in
the mail. Now, with the annual expenditure for the
program over a billion dollars and with the
appropriation still part of the mammoth agriculture
bill, as though its purpose were to help U.S. farmers
by giving poor people the wherewithal to buy their
output, this is still how the program is administered.
According to the Puerto Ricans themselves, two of the major differences between Puerto Rico and the fifty states are "its local taxation system and exemption from Internal Revenue Code,"
And again, according to the same
some economists Puerto Rico's economy is considered
somewhat fictitious. Puerto Rico has very few natural
resources of economic value and its economy relies
mainly on Federal Aid from the United States
Government, which depends on the industrialization
programs and the tax incentives that U.S. offers.
Economists believe that reinstating IRS Section 936 or
making IRS Section 30A permanent for U.S. firms
operating in Puerto Rico is not the best way to
stimulate sustainable development on the island.
It's only the fact that immigration now includes Somalians, Afghanistanis, and your basic "wild motley throng" that makes the Puerto Ricans less noticeable to Barone and the Wall Street Journal.
They're still there, though. They were rioting in New York in 2000, they had enough political power in New York to get Scott McConnell fired from the New York Post and have Bill Clinton free 16 of their pet terrorists to gain votes in his wife's Senate campaign.
I'm amazed, by the way, that the Economist mentioned West Side Story in a pro-Immigration piece. If you saw the movie, you know that West Side Story is the story of a conflict between native-born juvenile delinquents and Puerto Rican juveniles who are literally undercutting them.
In a deserted area under the highway, the gangs meet for the fight. As it is about to get underway, Tony hurries in and begs them to stop. Bernardo, enraged that Tony has been making advances to his sister, furiously pushes him back. Suddenly switchblade knives appear and Riff and Bernardo begin to fight "The Rumble." In the ensuing action Riff is knifed. Tony grabs Riff's weapon and knifes Bernardo. Frenzied, the gangs join battle, until a police whistle interrupts them. They flee, leaving behind the bodies of Riff and Bernardo.
An unhappy ending, but there's worse to come for Bernardo's gang. According to the WSJ's Eduardo Porter (August 7, "A Surging Mexican Population Creates New Rifts, Rivalries for Hispanic Groups"), Mexicans are taking over Hispanic parishes in New York.
"If the Mexicans arrived last, they should adapt to the others," says Elsie Aponte, a 78-year-old Puerto Rican leader within the church who has worshiped at Our Lady of Mercy for more than 25 years. "They act as if they were the only ones here."
Of course, he doesn't discuss the gang situation, because you will rarely find the words "immigrant " and "crime" used in the same sentence in the WSJ. But a look at the FBI and NYPD websites, or the one maintained by the Department of Justice, suggests that West Side Story's Puerto Rican Sharks would have as much cause to be unhappy about the new immigrants as the Jets were about them.
The Sharks would have been surprised to learn that the privilege of "coming to America," which belongs to Puerto Ricans because they live in US territory, would be extended to the entire world.
Simple-minded juveniles though they were, they might have asked if the entire world was going to be able to collect welfare? Or if the Americans wanted to give everything they'd given to one small island to an entire planet?
Recently, Marc Levin wrote that if Texas authorities were going to provide socialized medicine for everyone in Mexico, they might save a lot of trouble by building the hospitals on the Mexican side of the border, rather than forcing the Mexicans to sneak across the border to crowd into Texas emergency rooms.
The same applies to sending Mexicans welfare payments. These payments could be mailed to Mexico, and the Mexicans could stay home.
In effect, that's what's being done in Puerto Rico. But it can't be done for the whole world.
August 08, 2001