4 weeks ago

The 5 platitudes and mindless slogans that should be banned from the immigration debate


(Opinion) The world’s most deliberative body, as the U.S. Senate likes to call itself, held a weeklong debate on the contentious issue of immigration — and the public is no better informed for it.

That’s because pro-amnesty senators routinely did the same thing that other supporters of mass immigration do — spout empty platitudes and meaningless slogans as a substitute for actually engaging on the issue.

America desperately needs a real debate on this issue, one that illuminates and acknowledges the various tradeoffs that come with any policy. Immigration is not all good or all bad. There are pros and cons, winners and losers. The sooner we admit that, the sooner we can try to reach a consensus, instead of simply dismissing opponents as racist and xenophobic.

With that in mind, here are the five platitudes that should be banned from future immigration debates:

— “We are a nation of immigrants.”

This is, of course, factually accurate yet irrelevant. It suggests that because most Americans can trace their family trees to foreign lands, it means we have no right to limit new immigration or give preference to some newcomers over others.

That notion is absurd. All countries have the sovereign right to determine the most basic component of nationhood — its citizens.

The United States always has limited immigration in some way and has gone through periods of high immigration and low immigration. Currently, there are 24-year waiting lists for certain immigration categories. Still, America awards more than 1 million green cards every single year. What is the proper number? Whether you think it’s greater or fewer, there is a good bet you favor some restriction.

Each year, the United States admits about 50,000 foreigners chosen randomly from a lottery intended to diversify the immigrant pool. In 2015, 14.4 million applied. But that’s a drop in the bucket compared to overall potential demand. A Gallup poll last year found that 147 million foreigners would move to America if they could. Unless you think the U.S. should take all of them, then you also believe in limits. Now, we’re just haggling over the numbers.

Nearly 44 million U.S residents, legal and illegal, were born abroad. That is the highest number ever. The foreign-born share of the population is 13.5 percent. The last time it was that high was in 1910 when it was 14.7 percent. In a few years, the foreign-born share of the population will be at an all-time high.

In other words, we are in unchartered territory.

After the great immigration wave in the late 19th and early 20th century, we put the brakes on immigration. Congress passed a law in 1924 dramatically reducing immigration. It is not a model we likely would want to follow. It was explicitly racist, barring immigration from certain countries. But as Harvard University economist George Borjas notes in his 2016 book, “We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative,” it did give the “melting pot” breathing space to absorb all those newcomers.

Even then, Borjas notes, it took about a century for the assimilation machine to work. The gap in the economic performance of different ethnicities among immigrants who came in the early 20th century narrowed but did not disappear in the second generation and persisted into the third.

And that was during a time when we more or less had a national consensus as to what we wanted assimilation to look like. We no longer have that – or even an agreement as to whether assimilation even is desirable.

— “Diversity is our strength.”

Another favorite aphorism of mass immigration advocates. They repeat it so frequently that many people start to nod their heads in agreement.

The reality is much much more complicated. There are obvious benefits. Drawing people from different backgrounds, if done right, adds new vitality and different skills. People from other cultures bring exotic food and culture that make life more interesting.

Diversity is far from an unmitigated good, however. Adding hundreds of thousands of people who speak different languages makes life harder in many ways. This is particularly true when it is not just one foreign language, but many.

According to the Census Bureau, more than 63 million people 5 and older speak a language other than English at home. Seven different languages are spoken at home by more than 1 million people. It makes it much harder for schools to educate children when students are speaking so many different languages.

But it is more than just linguistics. Having so many people from different cultures living together frays social cohesion. Research by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam — who wrote the landmark book “Bowling Alone” in 2000 — found that when diversity increases in a neighborhood, charitable giving, volunteerism and time spent on community projects declines. People trust their neighbors less — and not just from different ethnic groups but within ethnic groups. Whites trust other whites less, blacks trust other blacks less, etc.

In fact, the study — based on almost 30,000 interviews — found nearly all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse communities.

It could be that the benefits of diversity outweigh the drawbacks. But that ought to be a determination made after open debate, not a truism that is accepted without even acknowledging the downsides.

— “Immigrants do jobs Americans won’t do.”

Whenever I hear that, I always add — to myself — the words, “for that wage.”

Our immigration system disproportionately adds low-skill, low-income workers who compete with the most vulnerable Americans for low-end jobs on the bottom rungs of the economy. If we acknowledge that basic laws of supply and demand explain lower prices when the supply of commodities spikes, it stands to reason those laws would apply to labor, as well.

If we had fewer immigrants, maybe employers would have to pay more to fill those positions. That would not necessarily be a bad thing, and it undoubtedly would be a good thing for poorly educated Americans trying to make ends meet and gain a foothold in the economy.

Borjas offers a real-world example in his book. Immigration authorities raided a chicken processing plant in Georgia a decade ago and found three-quarters of the employees were illegal immigrants. The company suddenly had a need for new workers, and to attract them, it ran ads trumpeting higher salaries. Hundreds of African-Americans filled the vacancies.

Beyond those considerations, though, the “jobs Americans won’t do” phrase simply isn’t true. Americans make up a clear majority of the workforce in every occupation except agriculture and maids/housekeepers, where the split is roughly 50-50. That means there are an awful lot of Americans working as janitors, construction laborers, lawn groundskeepers and many other jobs Americans supposedly won’t do.

It is true that in places with high numbers of immigrants, the foreign-born dominate certain occupations. But somehow places with few immigrants manage to fill their positions. This is why the majority of dishwashers in New York City are immigrants but not in Birmingham.

— Immigrants grow the economy

This undoubtedly is true. No reputable economist disputes it. More people and more workers equal a bigger economy.

So what?

The overall size of the economy is a very poor measure of the desirability of a country. Most of the benefits from low-skill immigration flow to business owners and wealthy people who can get nannies and lawn care services cheaper.

That does not necessarily benefit the country as a whole.

If gross domestic product were all that mattered, then Mexico would be more desirable than Switzerland. Mexico’s economy is bigger. But where is the standard of living higher? The per capita income is more than three times higher in Switzerland, according to the CIA World Factbook.

— “The Statue of Liberty says ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’”

Supporters of mass immigration cite this like it were the Constitution. In fact, it is a poem by Emma Lazarus added to the statue’s pedestal 17 years later.

The statue itself, a gift from France, was intended as a beacon of liberty throughout the world. According to the National Park Service, French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye. Laboulaye wished to honor the United States for abolishing slavery and hoped that calling attention to that would inspire the French people to call for their own democracy in the face of a French monarchy.

It wasn’t intended as an immigration symbol.

In any case, citing a poem written at a time when the United States needed large numbers of workers to fuel the industrial revolution is not actually an argument for maintaining the immigration status quo for the 21st century.

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.


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4 hours ago

Evidence mounts of full-scale Russian campaign to undermine American energy

The U.S. government for the first time ever blamed Russia for hacking into American energy infrastructure. The Trump administration action comes a little over two weeks after a House committee detailed Russian attempts to influence energy markets.

U.S. officials said a “multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors” that began in March 2016, possibly earlier, is part of a campaign to target critical infrastructure, including energy, nuclear and aviation facilities.


The FBI and Department of Homeland Security on Thursday said hackers targeted small facilities “where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks,” Reuters reported.

It’s the first time the U.S. has directly called out Moscow for infrastructure hacking. It’s still unclear whether or not the hacks were successful or led to any damage, and the security alert did not name the companies targeted.

The Trump administration condemnation comes more than two weeks after the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology found Russian agents used social media outlets to embolden opposition to American energy production.

“Russia exploited American social media as part of its concerted effort to disrupt U.S. energy markets and influence domestic energy policy,” reads the committee’s report on Russian activities.

The committee found accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm, published 9,097 social media posts from 2015 to 2017 targeting energy policies and projects. Thirteen Russians connected to IRA were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“The IRA targeted pipelines, fossil fuels, climate change, and other divisive issues to influence public policy in the U.S.,” the House committee found.

For years, Republicans and energy industry experts have worried Russian money was being used to undermine U.S. energy policy.

Intelligence officials confirmed in early 2017 in a declassified report on election meddling that the state-owned media outlet Russia Today (RT) ran “anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health.”

The House committee began the investigation in 2017 and asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to investigate whether or not Russians were using an offshore Bermuda-based law firm to funnel money to U.S. environmental groups.

Lawmakers asked Mnuchin to investigate whether or not the U.S.-based environmental group, the Sea Change Foundation, took $23 million from a Bermuda-based shell company with ties to Russian oligarchs in 2010 and 2011.

Sea Change gave millions to U.S.-based environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. All of those groups oppose hydraulic fracturing.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

5 hours ago

VIDEO: PA-18’s lessons — dangerous teachers — student walkouts … and more on Guerrilla Politics

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories including:

— Were the results in Pennsylvania’s special election a rejection of Trump or Pelosi?

— Why did the executive director of the state’s superintendent association imply teachers were unstable and dangerous?

— Will the student walkouts bring about some real change on gun issues?

Clayton Hinchman joins Jackson and Burke to discuss his campaign for Congress in Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at Hillary Clinton where he begs her never stop talking.

6 hours ago

AlabamaWorks! is holding a career event for students to learn about jobs in the state

Edie Gibson and Antiqua Cleggett talk “Worlds of Work at SkillsUSA” which will be held April 24-25 at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex.

Worlds of Work at SkillsUSA is designed to help 8-12th grade students “connect the dots” and clearly identify steps toward a college or career pathway as they enter their high school education.

More information is available here.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

7 hours ago

Wounded Warrior running for Alabama State House representing Chambers and Lee Counties

Back in 2003, while U.S. Army Specialist Todd Rauch and his buddies were patrolling the streets of Abu Ghraib, an Iraqi city made famous by its notorious prison, a remotely-detonated mortar exploded near his patrol. His right shoulder and hand were severely injured in the blast.

Rauch was eventually flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and endured 12 surgeries to save his limbs from amputation.

He is now running as a Republican for the State House of Representatives district representing Chambers and Lee Counties.

So how did this Illinois-native find himself running for office in Alabama?

While recovering at the hospital, Rauch’s roommate was from Fort Payne and “all he talked about was Auburn and Auburn and Auburn,” Rauch told Yellowhammer News.


Rauch soon recovered from his injuries, and then his plans for a transition to civilian life became all about … Auburn, Auburn, Auburn.

“I applied to Auburn and felt like it was a good place to get a fresh start,” he said

Rauch studied psychology at Auburn University, with the intention of working in veteran services or military intelligence. He then worked for a time as an intelligence analyst and then began working in veterans’ services, helping his brothers and sisters in arms receive the benefits they were promised.

He’s running on a platform strengthening communities.

Rauch has a firm conviction that a community’s representative ought to be more present in the community itself, something he said he hasn’t seen much at the 75 city and county commission meetings he has attended over the last few years.

“I realized that there was no one there who was representing us in Montgomery to take those voices and those issue and those problems to Montgomery,” he said.

Rauch has put improving jobs and education among his platform principles.

He is a stanch supporter of the community college system, of which both he and his wife are products.

“It’s a good and affordable way to get your education and to get experience in college without jumping into a four-year university,” he said.

Rauch also supports expanding broadband access to rural areas. He said it is critical to the development of rural areas that have little internet and cell service.

“You’re not able to do your banking,” he said. “Some of these people aren’t even able to have home security systems because some of that works off of cell service.”

With the campaign motto, “Community. Country. Service,” Rauch said he wants to work to improve life for his constituents, and by extension, the rest of the state and country.

“Focusing on the community creates better environment for the kids, inspires better leaders, and provides better community for our state, and provides a better state for our country,” he said.

The GOP primary is June 5.

(Image: Todd Rauch for Alabama/Facebook)

The conservative alternative to Martha Roby gains momentum as Terry Everett, lawmakers endorse Barry Moore

State Rep. Barry Moore’s campaign for Congress recently received strong endorsements from the district’s former congressman and a dozen of Alabama’s most conservative state lawmakers.

“Since I left Congress, government has grown, our representation has wavered, and District 2 values have been casted aside,” said former Republican Congressman Terry Everett, who represented the district from 1993-2009. “We need to make a change, and I am privileged to support Representative Barry Moore for Congress.”

Everett’s powerful endorsement comes days after 12 of the state’s most conservative lawmakers gathered in Montgomery to endorse Barry Moore, whose conservative record they witnessed firsthand while working alongside him in the State Legislature.

Wetumpka State Rep. Mike Holmes told reporters that the district has “an opportunity to send a strong, unapologetic conservative to Washington,” and Montgomery State Rep. Dimitri Polizos agreed, saying that Moore is a “proven conservative leader” who will “stand with President Trump and give our district the representation it deserves.”

Visit Barry Moore’s website, his Facebook page and @RepBarryMoore on Twitter to learn why Terry Everett and others believe in his vision to Make Alabama Great Again!

(Paid for by Barry Moore for Congress)