Immigration Policy and Identity Politics
Extract from The Jewish Stake in America's Changing Demography: Reconsidering a Misguided Immigration Policy By Stephen Steinlight October 2001. In 2013 Dr. Steinlight's observations are even more true today with raging immigration debate and two Muslim immigrants blowing up the Boston Marathon.
Our current policies encourage the balkanization that results from identity politics and the politics of grievance. The high percentage of new immigrants who are poor and uneducated, suffer linguistic handicaps, dizzying cultural disorientation, and possess no competitive skills for a postindustrial labor market remain effectively trapped within the underclass and/or the suffocating and meager support systems offered by their tight tribal enclaves.
The numbers simply overwhelm available resources at the state and federal level. The new faith-based initiatives, so questionable from a First Amendment standpoint, potentially troubling in terms of generating sectarian strife over the pursuit of federal dollars, and capable of providing federal government sanction to discrimination, would also be utterly incapable of laying a glove on the problem. That is if - and it is a big if - the program survives the Senate and is found to be constitutional.
Now, none of this would be a problem if we were willing to adopt the Chamber of Commerce/Wall Street Journal mentality. That worldview applauds an endless supply of immigrants as desirable in order to fill the bottomless demand for the wretched of the earth to occupy the bowels of the service sector, to suppress U.S. wages overall, and to further weaken the already marginalized American labor movement.
But if we are interested in sustaining the American dream of upward mobility and social integration, that vision is both cynical and hopelessly inadequate. According to social analysts from the political left to the political right, the Alan Wolfe thesis tends to find substantial if not solid agreement.
American social cohesion and the integrity of its democratic process are faring pretty well but the nation faces one paramount challenge: the growing chasm between the very rich and everyone else.
With this large anxiety in mind, and with concerns about creating a workable pluralism in the face of an exploding and increasingly transient immigrant population, does it make sense for America to follow the European model and create a massive underclass of impoverished, alienated, and socially disconnected guest workers?
It is hard to imagine that anyone who values social democracy could favor such a solution - but it is becoming a reality on the ground for three reasons: the misery of the world's desperately poor, employer greed, and the loss of control of America's borders.
The inability of government to begin to cope with the scale of the problem (whether on the side of policing borders or providing adequate social services) also strengthens the role of the ethnic enclave in addressing it. And the resultant dependence on the religious and cultural institutions within the ethnic communities for sustenance often slows or blocks acculturation, and worse.
Within those tight ethnic enclaves, home country allegiances and social patterns endure, old prejudices and hatreds are reinforced, and home-country politics continue to inordinately shape, even control, the immigrant's worldview.
In many cases, ethnic communal support for new immigrants or patronage of their business establishments are subject to the blessings of atavistic, unassimilated, and anti-pluralistic communal and religious leadership that frequently has a political agenda fundamentally at odds with American values. This is certainly the case within the Pakistani immigrant community. In many cases, the Old World political party structures, replete with their targeted, self-serving meager handouts, remain powerful.
Breaking these patterns of control exerted by the sending country and promoting acculturation that honors the immigrant's culture and origins but principally foregrounds and nurtures American values can be achieved only by reducing the present overwhelming scale of immigration that thwarts any effort to develop practicable solutions to these problems.
Here is a very good reason to demand an end to multiculturalism. Think about the two immigrants that blew up the Boston Marathon. One marries a non-Muslim and forces her to convert.
Was it the rabid anti-Western hatred because of Islam, or was it the constant drumbeat of America is racist, homophobic, etc. on our college campuses that turn these two young men into murderers? Was there even any effort to get them to assimilate to American values when multiculturalism not only discourages this but attacks American culture?
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