Protecting America's Majority from Cultural Upheaval Isn't Nativism

Article excerpt

Julian Simon begins his May 29 Commentary article, "Nativism and immigration," by questioning the motives of people who support the immigration bills passed by the House and Senate in the past several months - bills aimed primarily at reducing the number of illegal immigrants.

Mr. Simon claims that "underlying" the economic arguments there is a "powerful sentiment": the view that immigrants "threaten our national `Culture.' " Mr. Simon calls this "an ugly racist-nativist weapon." Not once does he say anything about what is actually in those bills - or even if he is opposed to them or to the goals they are intended to achieve.

I certainly do not know how many senators based their vote partly on a concern that a high level of immigration, especially illegal immigration, can have undesired cultural impacts - for example, related to slow or incomplete assimilation. I also do not see why such a concern is racist or even "nativist" (I assume that, by the latter epithet, Mr. Simon is referring to more than the belief that cultural changes that are not wanted by a majority of Americans should not be encouraged.)

One thing I do know is that the vote was overwhelming: 97 to 3. Does Mr. Simon thus believe that 97 percent of the U.S. Senate is "racist" or "nativist"? What about others who support such legislation?

Mr. Simon dismisses any concerns about undesired cultural changes as an "age-old lament. Incredible as it may seem, he explicitly claims that immigrants have not altered American culture! We hear from him all the time about the beneficial effects of immigration on the culture, even about alleged benefits of "multiculturalism" on our schools and our country generally. …