The Politics of Permanent Immigration

By Miller, John J. | Reason, October 1998 | Go to article overview

The Politics of Permanent Immigration


Miller, John J., Reason


HOW PRO-IMMIGRATION FORCES TRIUMPHED - AND WHY THEY'RE LIKELY TO KEEP DOING SO.

At a December meeting with Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson, a group of trade association executives ran through their legislative priorities for 1998. Tort reform, regulatory relief, and tax credits for research and development topped their agenda - just as they always do. The RNC chief promised that the GOP would do what it could - just as he always does. The gathering could have occurred at any time during the last several years, and its content would not have been very different. It was another typically dull Washington roundtable discussion about how the federal government can help American business.

Right before the meeting ended, however, Bruce Josten of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spoke up. "There's one more thing," he said. "If the economy keeps growing the way it has, we're going to run out of people." He predicted a severe labor shortage sometime in the next decade. Suddenly the room jumped to life. Josten's colleagues backed him up. Within five or 10 years, the group thought, there will be many more new jobs than people able to fill them. The country already is nearing full employment: The unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent in May, the lowest it's been in 28 years. An ominous demographic problem makes for more trouble: There are 22 million fewer Generation X-ers than baby boomers. "Unless we find new ways to increase our productivity, we're going to have to bring in more people simply to maintain the economy's growth rate," said Josten. "I'm talking about more legal immigrants at all skill levels."

It's hard to imagine anyone in Washington speaking these words just two and a half years ago, when it looked like congressional Republicans and President Clinton were close to an election-year deal that would have formally reduced legal immigration for the first time since the 1920s. A consensus had started to emerge among the Washington political establishment to scale back on admissions, primarily for economic reasons but also because of cultural concerns, population worries, and environmentalism. The bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, led by the late liberal heroine Barbara Jordan, supported the cuts and was instrumental in building the political momentum. Democrats such as Sen. Ted Kennedy (Mass.) were looking for a populist cause to use against big business. Conservatives divided deeply and often bitterly on the issue, and it appeared as though much of the movement was ready to jettison Ronald Reagan's legacy of support for newcomers in order to ride a wave started by California's Proposition 187, a successful ballot initiative aimed at discouraging illegal immigration.

Some acted from a deeply held animus toward multiculturalism, which they believed was fueled by immigration, while others simply wanted a winning political issue. Groups long opposed to immigration because it increases population pressures, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, pressed their advantage. In addition to a reduction in numbers, restrictionists appeared on the brink of enacting an array of policies that would have reversed America's history of generous admission levels: income requirements for immigrants trying to gain entry; a ban on the employment of foreign students upon their graduation from U.S. colleges; new prevailing wage rules for companies hiring foreign-born workers; and - perhaps most threatening of all from a pro-immigration viewpoint - a provision that would have sunset the current system of admissions by a certain date and thereby put restrictionists in the political driver's seat. Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), an anti-immigration leader, declared: "Business advocates continually give me the babble, 'All we want, Simpson, is the best and the brightest.' I say, 'Bull! You want the best, brightest, and cheapest, and I for one am going to bust up your playhouse. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Politics of Permanent Immigration
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.