The chief difficulties that America faces because of current immigration are not triggered by who the immigrants are but by how many they are.

The task before the nation in setting a fair level of immigration is not about race or some vision of a homogeneous white America; it is about protecting and enhancing the United States' unique experiment in democracy for all Americans, including recent immigrants, regardless of their particular ethnicity. Roy Beck, “The Case Against Immigration”

Roy Beck
Roy Beck, NumbersUSA Executive Director

Nothing about this website should be construed as advocating hostile actions or feelings toward immigrant Americans; illegal aliens deserve humane treatment even as they are detected, detained and deported. Unfortunately, to write about problems of immigration is to risk seeming to attack immigrants themselves. Even worse is the risk of inadvertently encouraging somebody else to show hostility toward the foreign-born as a group.

I encounter too many immigrants and children of immigrants in daily affairs where I live in northern Virginia to take those risks lightly. From five continents, members of immigrant families have passed through my home, especially in the persons of friends of my sons. They are among the physical therapy patients of my wife; they are participants in youth activities which I lead; they are friends at my church, which has received national recognition for creating local service to new immigrants; they are neighbors; they are business clerks and owners where I trade.

Thus, as is the case for millions of other Americans, I have a very personal stake in not wanting to provoke hostility or discrimination toward the foreign-born who already are living among us.

But our kindly feelings toward immigrants must no longer stifle public discussion about the effects of immigration numbers.

To talk about changing immigration numbers is to say nothing against the individual immigrants in this country. Rather, it is about deciding how many foreign citizens living in their own countries right now should be allowed to immigrate in the future.

None of this is to suggest that no immigrants are scoundrels or contribute to problems of immigration because of their bad personal behavior. It is not unfair, nor does it constitute immigrant bashing, to criticize the behavior of specific immigrants who violate our laws or otherwise behave in a manner unworthy of guests who have been invited into this country.

It IS immigrant bashing, however, to ascribe those bad characteristics to whole groups of people based on their ethnicity or foreign-born status. All of us should be careful of the language we use so as not to inadvertently appear to be making such negative generalizations.

Not only is it ethically wrong to engage in such stereotyping, it is tactically short-sighted. There is much to suggest that most immigrants already among us would support reductions in immigration numbers. The reasons are not surprising. Virtually any reduction designed to help native-born Americans would be even more beneficial to foreign-born Americans. That is why so many immigrants are supporters of

Perhaps the greatest “immigrant bashers” are those Members of Congress who refuse to look at the abysmal conditions of so many immigrant Americans and who every year insist on adding more than a million more immigrants into their occupations, schools and communities.

—Based on an essay first published by W.W. Norton & Co. (1996)