Eric Ruark's picture


  by  Eric Ruark

Jim Acosta, CNN White House correspondent:

This whole notion they [green card holders] have to learn English before they get to the United States, are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?[*]

*Great Britain is the island containing England, Scotland, and Wales. The United Kingdom is Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland shares the island of Ireland with the Republic of Ireland, and citizens of both countries speak English. The Republic of Ireland is a sovereign state. It is not part of Great Britain, the United Kingdom, or Australia.

Countries with largest English-Speaking Populations

  1. United States 255 million
  2. India 125 million
  3. Nigeria 87 million (Official Language)
  4. Philippines 78 million (Official Language)
  5. United Kingdom 61 million (Includes Great Britain)
  6. Germany 45 million
  7. Bangladesh 29 million
  8. Egypt 28 million
  9. Canada 26 million (Official Language)
  10. France 24 million
  11. Ghana 18 million (Official Language)
  12. Australia 17 million

There are 335 million people who speak English as their primary language. Altogether, there are over one billion people throughout the world who speak English. The vast majority of these persons live outside of Great Britain and Australia.

“Just look at how immigration has destabilized the political consensus in the United States and Europe. What does that tell you about the long-term political and social consequences of large-scale immigration?... Think about it: Would we be arguing so much about immigration if every American had benefited greatly from it? I doubt it. Surely, immigration made some of us richer, but that additional wealth was not equally shared, and more than a few Americans were left behind.”

George Borjas, professor of economics and social policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

We have all heard countless times that the “immigration system is broken.” The RAISE ACT introduced last week by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue is a tremendous first step towards fixing what’s broken.

The main obstacle to an immigration system operating in the national interest is the narrow special interests benefitting from current immigration policy. This clique controls our political system to the extent that any genuine immigration reform has been stymied for the past thirty years. Now that the political status quo on immigration is being challenged, the plutocrats are apoplectic, decrying rampant xenophobia and predicting the collapse of the U.S. economy, all because the American people want to institute rational and sustainable immigration policies –- policies inline with historical norms.

Members of what is commonly called the mainstream media, who are often paid handsomely by moguls lobbying for massive increases in immigration (Bloomberg, Bezos, Murdoch, Slim, Zuckerberg), are increasingly adopting the position that any argument in favor of immigration restrictions is illegitimate and unacceptable in the political and public spheres. It has somehow become “un-American” to advocate for an immigration system that broadly benefits the American people.

CNN’s Jim Acosta, who combines an overweening sense of self-righteousness with an almost total ignorance of anything relating to immigration policy or history, became a cheerleader for open borders last Wednesday when he declared that the Statue of Liberty prohibits any reduction in immigration, or any preference given to green card applicants who are able to speak English. Acosta recited a stanza from Emma Lazarus’ poem as one might cite the Constitution, or refer to a statute passed by Congress.

There are many Americans who have a strong emotional attachment to the Statue of Liberty, but likely very few believe it is the auger of immigration policy, America’s Oracle of Ellis Island, divining ruin for anyone who proposes a merit-based immigration system.

It is true the Statue of Liberty signaled relief for millions of Europeans who arrived in New York Harbor during the late nineteenth-/early twentieth-century after an arduous journey across the Atlantic; and it stood as a symbol of hope for a better life in America. Anyone with a modicum of common sense understands that was a different time, and what immigration law was in the 1880s does not dictate what our laws must be today. Sadly, at least according to The New York TimesGlen Thrush, common sense is anathema to the practice of journalism.

Anyone who has a modest understanding of history also knows that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France that originally had nothing to do with immigration. It has since become inextricably linked to the Great Wave of immigration from Europe, reminding millions of their roots in the Old World, and Lazarus’ poem, “The New Colossus,” is one of the main reasons why. That the Lazarus poem is now the only thing most Americans today associate with the Great Wave of immigration is due to what Jim Acosta called “national park revisionism.”

(See Robert Suro’s thoughtful writings on immigration and the Statue of Liberty, here and here.)

What most people fail to understand, because the history of the Great Wave has been completely mythologized, is that the United States took in tens of millions of immigrants from Europe not because they were “yearning to be free” and the United States obliged, but because as the United States underwent industrialization, factory owners preferred the huddled masses from Europe over American workers, particularly black Americans. If Jim Acosta has any idea who Booker T. Washington was, I would wager he has no clue what Washington meant when he implored white industrialists to “cast down your bucket where you are.”

The very same thing is happening today, and the media is, with very rare exceptions, turning a blind eye to the disproportionate effect that immigration has on the jobs and wages of American minorities. The Acosta family’s immigration story may be dear to Jim Acosta, but it means nothing to young black men in D.C. who can’t get a job. Frederick Douglass once asked, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when millions of Europeans were pouring through Ellis Island, I would ask Mr. Acosta, what to black Americans was the Statue of Liberty?

The idea that the Statue of Liberty ever symbolized open immigration to the United States is just silly. During the Great Wave, immigration by non-Europeans was essentially banned, and many Europeans who did try to immigrate to the United States were barred on public health or political grounds. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886 (Lazarus’ poem was added 17 years later). Since that time average annual immigration to the United States is 525,000, even including the million a year admitted since 1990.

Assimilation of the Great Wave immigrants is largely taken for granted today. Many attribute it to “American Exceptionalism,” and they argue it will again work its magic with America’s 44 million foreign-born residents, and their children. Whatever the term American Exceptionalism may mean to those who employ it, it is a fact that integration and economic and cultural assimilation of the Great Wave of immigrants came about when immigration levels had returned to modest levels.

Jim Acosta has become the poster child for the supercilious and vacuous D.C. media personality, the Ted Baxter of the White House press corps, minus the endearing qualities. It frustrates us all that on the day the RAISE Act was introduced, Acosta high-jacked what could have been a substantive press briefing. Maybe that was his ultimate motivation: to prevent a discussion of the RAISE Act on its merits.

Media attacks on the RAISE Act and on proponents of merit-based immigration are a genuine hurdle in achieving genuine immigration reform. Yet, think back to June 2013 when the Gang of Eight bill passed the Senate. How many of us thought we would ever be in this position in 2017?

We have to give credit and tremendous respect to Senators Cotton and Perdue for putting their country first. And not matter what one may think of President Trump, those who support an immigration policy that puts Americans first have to appreciate that the President was standing beside the Senators when they unveiled their legislation.

The Commission is particularly concerned about the impact of immigration on the most disadvantaged within our already resident society – inner city youth, racial and ethnic minorities, and recent immigrants who have not yet adjusted to life in the U.S.

Barbara Jordan, August 3, 1994

Note: There are some very good journalists committed to reporting facts about immigration, Alan Gomez of USA Today to name but one. Sadly, there are many more who are willing to violate journalistic ethics, such as falsely reporting on a straight-forward statement by the acting Director of ICE, or blatantly misrepresenting the findings of the National Academy of Sciences on the economic and fiscal effects of immigration.

ERIC RUARK is the Director of Research for NumbersUSA

Legal Immigration

Updated: Wed, Oct 4th 2017 @ 8:59am EDT

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