Roy Beck's picture


  by  Roy Beck

Jiverly Wong, who murdered 13 people in Binghamton on Friday, reportedly was an ethnic Chinese immigrant from Vietnam who seethed from his difficulty in assimilating to America.

Does this provide evidence of something special about Chinese immigrants, or Vietnamese immigrants or immigration policies?

No, not any more than if Wong had been one of the immigrant valedictorians or Silicon Valley inventors that we see noted constantly in the media and on the floor of Congress.

I just know that the result of Wong's actions was pure tragedy for the mostly immigrant victims he chose. Along with all of you, I am sure,  I extend my greatest sympathies to everybody connected to the community of Binghamton.

But the fact that Wong was an immigrant himself does not tell me anything about a propensity to do this kind of thing, any more than if we had learned that the killer at the immigration center had been a native-born American.

Sweeping generalizations based on one or two or even a number of anecdotes do not lead to thoughtul analysis or public policy.  

As nightmarish as the Virginia Tech and Binghamton anecdotes are, it is important to resist any kind of generalizations about immigrants from them, unless a credible study suggests that all anecdotes add up to some significant distinction from our own native-born propensity toward unspeakable cruelty and narcissism. I have seen nothing of the sort.

In fact, we have had plenty of native-born Americans doing spree killing across the country in the two years since a horribly maladjusted Korean immigrant turned the Virginia Tech University campus into a river of blood.

Just as immigration policy should not be based on generalizations from anecdotes of abysmal immigrant behavior, neither should it be based on generalizations from examplary individual behavior.

A search of news media websites will find that one of the most common ways that immigration policy is reported is based on warm, praising anecdotes of immigrants doing well.  I don't resent those stories on their own; they are good human interest yarns.  But the tendency in nearly all of those stories is to bring up some open-borders-agenda legislation and note that the individual immigrant being profiled is proof of the need for that bill to pass.

Thus, a Vietnamese graduating as valedictorian from high school becomes proof of the need for the DREAM amnesty.  And Chinese engineers working in Silicon Valley and obtaining patents for inventions become proof of the need for more H-1B visas even while American tech workers are losing their jobs.

But those are just anecdotes.  Without the context of quantitative analysis, it makes no more sense to base immigration policy on their stories than it does to base it on a Chinese/Vietnamese murderer.

Prof. Norm Matloff, for example, has noted that the percentage of patents going to immigrants in the tech industry is no higher than their percentage participation in the industry.  If they had not been given the jobs instead of all the Americans who wanted to work in the field, there is no reason to believe that most of the immigrant inventions would have been made by Americans, Dr. Matloff suggests.  As for the anecdotes about valedictorians, one needs to look at the overall school achievement of immigrants, including high school drop-out rates, to decide whether we should run high immigration in order to have more brilliant high school students.

In the end, I continue to believe that the immigration policy that is right for the United States will not be related to the goodness, the character, the characteristics, the great successes -- or the murderous tendencies -- of individual immigrants but to the effect of various levels of numbers on our national community.

The murders in Binghamton relate to a lot of issues that our national community needs to explore (why do we have so many of these heart-breakers?), but I don't think it has anything to do with setting immigration policy.

ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA

P.S. It shouldn't have to be said, but I thought about it when I heard the first news of the unfolding drama at the Binghamton immigration center:   

No matter how angry and frustrated any of us find ourselves over federal immigration policies that put foreign workers (even illegal ones) ahead of unemployed Americans, it is inappropriate and unjustified to even speak harsh words to those foreign workers -- let alone to do any kind of harm against them. 

All anger rightfully should be directed at the politicians who take these anti-American-worker policies -- and at the groups that press them to do so.  Still, please remember that we are not powerless, and we are most effective when we are civil in our protest against those politicians. We have stopped more than five dozen amnesties (100% of them) since 2000. Thus far, we haven't made much progress in turning around immigration policies, but no amount of frustration ever justifies violence or the talk of violence in a democratic society. 

H-1B visas

Updated: Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 3:00pm EDT

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