Scholars are uncertain whether the Americas may have begun their human ascent through Polynesians, Chinese, or even indigenous peoples, but history does record how the Americas’ indigenous civilizations met their utter devastation from imported disease, European conquest for Gold in Central America, and depopulation by settlers in North America. Upwards of 90 percent of the indigenous people thus died from European immigration. Europe’s inhumane entrance of introduction to the Americas would set the stage for 300 more years of race based immigration in America.
During the 16th century, Europe’s powerful elite promised the lure of gold to tempt common men into voyages of conquest and immigration, including to the Americas. For most early immigrants however, North America’s gold was the water, soil, lumber, plants, animals and religious tolerance that promised of a better life. Yet, some believed in the degraded idea of slavery and forced slaves into their equation of this “better life”. As early as 1619, the initial population of 4,000 European settlers in North America had acquired 20 slaves.
This tiny seed of 4,000 Europeans would also weed out the 15 million indigenous American indigenous people estimated to live in North America in 1619. European diseases including smallpox decimated the indigenous population. The native’s culture mutated to include the white man’s death and violent reprisals as the colonists ultimately reduced the indigenous population from 15 million to 750,000 by 1776, at the founding of America.
In 1776, the colonies were dominated by British, Northern Europeans and African slaves. In the intervening years after 1619, Southern states had accelerated forced immigration of slaves whose population in the South now exceeded 38 percent. By 1776, the sons and daughters of America’s Declaration of Independence had grown to 2.5 million. .
After Congress voted for the Constitution in 1787 prohibiting the import of slaves after 1807, Congress then passed its first immigration legislation, the Naturalization Act of 1790. While it didn’t restrict numbers of immigrants, it did limit citizenship to white, free people, disregarding the original indigenous people and the large minority of slaves in America. During the next 50 years, America’s Caucasian growth was enforced as immigration grew from 6,500 per year to about 60,000 per year mostly from England, Germany, and Ireland.
During the decade of the 1840s, immigration from Europe leaped forward as 1.7 million came to America when Ireland lost one million souls to the potato famine. America welcomed her ancestry with open arms. Yet, at the same time, China experienced an order of magnitude greater tragedy and when her immigrants came to America in much fewer numbers than Europeans, they sparked a severe immigration reaction.
After China capitulated to England’s Opium War in 1842, England poured cheap goods into China creating a massive trade imbalance, a loss of China’s silver, and a collapse of her economy (foreshadowing?). As a result, China’s agricultural economy also collapsed and China lost a million of its population to starvation every year afterward for 40 years. Over that 40 year period, 370,000 Chinese settled in America mainly in the West, as 7 million more Europeans immigrated to America.
The discovery of gold in California in 1849 and America’s building of the Continental Railroad gave Chinese immigrants escaping the conditions of their country an opportunity for low skilled jobs in California at very low pay. Their acceptance of these low wages increased wage pressures on European immigrants, which exacerbated prejudice toward Chinese first in California and then across America. Congress reacted by passing the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the first of several acts that would ban Chinese citizenship through WWII.
After 1900, Southern and Eastern Europeans, including significant numbers of Italians and Jews, began immigrating in increasing numbers. Believing these immigrants to be “sickly and incapable of supporting the American economy”, the U.S. Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924 to slow their inflow by setting racial quotas in percentages equal to U.S. race populations that existed in 1890 prior to the large influx of Southern and Eastern Europeans. Many say that the basis of the 1924 American immigration law was Eugenics, a bigoted system of racial supremacy. Nonetheless, this race based policy stayed in place influencing immigration with few changes through 1965.
In 1965, Congress passed the 1965 Immigration Act, establishing what it believed to be a fairer immigration policy based on skill and family reunification. Its effects were intended to be largely symbolic, showing the world that America could be the multicultural land of opportunity that it claimed. The act’s effects were anything but symbolic, creating a significant reversal of racial immigration quotas and supporting mass immigration from Asia and Central America.
Yet, immigration in 1965 had to endure the same mistrust of racial differences that existed elsewhere in America. Its unintended growth consequences exacerbated racial prejudices as Asian and Hispanic immigration unexpectedly grew exponentially. Family reunification immigrations were set outside limiting quotas, boosting immigration to three times previous levels, creating a cycle of immigration and sponsorship. Initial immigrants attained citizenship status and then sponsored relatives who in turn sponsored more relatives.
In parallel with America’s Cultural Revolution which enabled the 1965 Immigration Act, multinational corporations began to transfer jobs out of America. As outflow of American jobs accelerated in the 1980’s, America’s immigration problems were exacerbated. Manufacturing unemployment increased, the middle class diminished, and domestic employers faced severe competitive pressures from overseas due mostly in part to wage differentials. To compete, many American businesses responded by turning a blind eye to the illegal status of the low cost immigrants they hired from Central America.
With the promise of better pay, workers from Central America and their families poured illegally across America’s borders, as many as 5,000 a night, 700,000 a year, while Middle America looked on in disbelief. Why did this nation of laws, disregard its laws with such blatancy? The traditional bedfellows of politics could not come together on this issue and form a direction so our political system stalled. Illegal aliens were supported by big business and defended by humanitarians and democratic politicians. Yet, they were opposed by unions, social conservatives, and social service providers and Republicans.
As a result, while our border patrols are conscientiously attempting to defend America’s borders, the attempt is in vain. Every night, the ritual continues. Border patrol agents pick up 1,500 of the 5,000 illegal border crossers that enter America and send them back to the border towns of Mexico. Every night, 3,500 illegal aliens enter America through the Hispanic Underground Railroad to start their new clandestine-public life in America. Every morning, aliens that were captured the previous night vow to try again the next night. The next evening, America’s cynical border patrol agents start the game of cat and mouse knowing they will see the same border crossers again. All the while, America intermittently continues the debate about what to do with our immigration policy.
America’s immigration policy is in a state of flux due to competing interests, some pragmatic, some profit driven, some protectionist, others conflicted by racial equality or prejudice, and the lot are complicated by political motivations of both the Republican and Democrat parties. Current issues include:
•Conflict with American ideals
oTrue political refugees continue to be refused
o EurAmericans feel threatened by Latin Americans
o Illegals are drawn to U.S. by industry without basic human rights
o Large influx of Spanish speaking immigrants sparked a multilingual debate
•Disregard for America’s laws
o 3% of people in America are undocumented aliens
o 700,000 illegal aliens a year are crossing the southwestern border
o Terrorism and drug cartels exacerbate the open border issue
o Strict border control is not enforced
o Border towns argue for safer border, deaths to residents becoming common
•Costs of immigration
o Sustainable immigration hasn’t been identified, analyzed or supported
o Influx of low wage earners has been a net cost to public services, schools,and hospitals – Some hospitals have been bankrupted by alien costs
o Foreign criminals find asylum through illegal entry and work in America
o The underground system generates generational poverty and crime
o Humanitarians argue for open borders as deaths during crossing are common
o Domestic corporations support illegal aliens and pay low wages.
o Low wage immigrants cost more in services than they pay first generation
o Unions fear loss of wages from low cost labor
o Immigration has caused a downward pressure on job wages
o Republicans are concerned about the large increase of democrat voters
These American problems are truly not insurmountable if we can agree on universal goals and then craft an immigration policy to deal with them sensibly. For instance, my set of goals includes 1) eliminating perverse economic incentives, 2) pursuing policies that strengthen America and 3) supporting American ideals through immigration policy
1) Eliminating perverse economic incentives
Illegal immigration exists in large part because it is the black market supplier of low cost labor in America. Black markets exist when governments attempt to artificially influence supply and demand. In this case, government has attempted to set a floor on the compensation paid to the least valuable worker.
As globalism increases, it forces three perverse outcomes. First, the black market incentive for illegal aliens increases and the flood gates open on the borders. Second, for those businesses that follow the law and do not hire illegal low cost workers, they are incentivized to move their businesses offshore. Third, all workers who are forced to accept the minimum wage floor are passed over for employment in favor of illegal immigrants who will work for less pay.
Minimum wages are a horrible way to provide American citizens a consumer floor and are one of our perverse economic incentives that should be eliminated
• Minimum wages should be eliminated.
• Let American businesses set wages to world wage rates and jobs will return
• Insist that all able Americans take jobs or receive no benefits
• Ensure that Americans have jobs before illegals, no matter the wage rates set, and illegals will return to their country when they are displaced in the workforce.
• Supplement lower wages through general social policy and all citizens will be maintained at minimum consumer levels.
• Tax corporations at prevailing international rates as the market will bear and they will not be incentivized to leave America.
• Let foreign workers enter from Central America with work visas to take unfilled jobs at prevailing global rates if they are so inclined.
• Charge foreign workers for social services so they are not a negative financial drain on those services and then let them use those services.
2) Pursuing immigration policies that strengthen America
Immigration should add to America’s well being. Immigrants should enter America with the expectation of giving to the collective community. America should welcome all immigrants that can add to her productive output or that can add to her capacity to help her citizens. Important to this ideal is that Immigrants embrace America.
• Assimilate immigrants quickly with common values and language
• Recruit immigrants that will bring assets and jobs to America
• Give preference to higher skilled and self sustaining workers
• Set sustainable immigration levels for lower skill levels that meet job growth trends
• Put the family sponsor chain inside the sustainable immigration levels.
3) Supporting American ideals through immigration policy
The ideals that America espouses should align with our immigration policies. America has proclaimed to the world to bring us her huddled masses, those that have been persecuted, from all races and creeds, and from all who wish for freedom and democracy. We have long ago banished slavery and indentured servitude. Our policies should reflect these values:
• Supporting refugees fleeing persecution
• Supporting balance of all nationalities wishing to enter
• Protecting basic human rights of all U.S. residents and visa permitted foreign workers
• Strict protection of borders to protect all citizens from illegal entries
• Strict enforcement of all laws to protect citizens from criminal immigrants
• Disallowing corporations to create virtual indentured servitude of sponsored immigrants
America can find common ground by eliminating perverse economic incentives and strengthening our will to win in the worldwide economic competition. America can progress in tolerance of our differences into a true multicultural melting pot if we mitigate those issues that divide us. America can grow toward the ideals we espouse to the world if we eliminate those issues that are at war with our shared goals. It is time to take American immigration to a new strategic level. It is time for America’s immigration to work for the benefit of all Americans.