Needed: Rational, Reasonable, Reliable Immigration Policy

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 3, 2017 | Go to article overview

Needed: Rational, Reasonable, Reliable Immigration Policy


Byline: Georgie Anne Geyer

No, this is not another hand-wringing story of chaos and bedlam spreading across the world in the explosive wake of Donald J. Trump's reckless immigration decisions. (Although many would surely like to damn him for it.)

And no, neither is it a tale of heraldic angels flying down from heaven to praise that selfsame American president. (Although, yes, many would also love that.)

Instead, this is a humble little report virtually nobody wants to hear, whose historical references will probably bore you to death. So please, tune out now, while there's still time before Homeland Security deports you to Syria on the last plane out!

When and if we become serious about determining who should be American and when, where and why, I intend to insist that the solution include a kind of third way, a middle road, one of those moderate, careful steps that are always the wisest course and that could lead us to a "Rational, Reasonable, Reliable" path (call it the three R's), which is what we need.

To understand what America is going through today, you have to go back to 1965. That was the year the still little-known Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was signed, almost as an afterthought. Yet it would transform America beyond Americans' wildest dreams -- or, more aptly, fears.

Its most impassioned supporter, Sen. Edward Kennedy, was famously quoted then as vaingloriously proclaiming, "First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Second, the ethnic mix will not be upset." Every single assurance, false.

As I wrote in my 1996 book, "Americans No More: The Death of Citizenship," before 1965, "the major principle of immigration policy was to take skilled people proportionally from the countries of origin of present American citizens. But after 1965, American immigration was deliberately opened to the Third World -- indeed, to the point of nearly being reserved for it.

"Before, immigrants were expected to embrace American values; after 1965, Americans were forced or felt they were being forced to adapt to foreign cultural values."

From 1930 to 1960, about 80 percent of America's immigrants came from European countries or Canada. By 1980, that figure had dropped by half, according to the Pew Research Center, while immigration from Asia and Latin America boomed.

At the same time, well-worn practices that were simply common-sensical and had served America well, also were changed by the "utopian lobby" of those in Congress, in the think tanks and in the universities who, if one carried their ideas to their logical conclusion, really wanted open borders.

In earlier years, for instance, new arrivals had quite deliberately been spread out across the country, in order to facilitate integration and to avoid the formation of hothouse ethnic enclaves. …

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