A newsletter I subscribe to sent out an alert last week entitled "Evangelical Leaders Unite on Just Assimilation Immigration Policy." With heightened interest I began reading about how the law in Arizona is a response to the federal government's failure, that we need a rational immigration policy, that we are a nation of laws, and that we needed a solution that is neither amnesty nor mass deportation. I was excited because this is what I believe.
Then I saw the next phrase: "Path to citizenship." The hairs on the back of my neck stood as I read the rest of the alert carefully. It continued by talking about how we are a melting pot and a beacon of freedom made up of immigrants, all which I agree with as well; however, the conclusion was that we need to give all illegal immigrants either citizenship or a guest worker permit (depending on each individual's preference). The exception was the usual "undocumented felons."
Nowhere in the alert did it talk about assimilation, despite the title! I realized at that point that I had just seen a new trial balloon for an alternative to the word Amnesty: Assimilation Immigration.
We at NumbersUSA like math, so lets try adding some simple numbers together. If you have a specified rate of immigration (currently set around 1 million per year) and then you add to that a path to citizenship for an additional 12 million, that is 13 million. Now lets add a similar set of numbers. If you take 1 million plus give amnesty to 12 million, that's 13 million as well. What's the difference?
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a rapid increase in immigration will have the same impact as an amnesty. However, what is worse is that increased rates will serve as an incentive for even higher levels of legal - and illegal - immigration. We had amnesties in the 80s and 90s that fueled illegal immigration. NumbersUSA fought hard to prevent large amnesties in 2000-09 - and succeeded. But a new decade is upon us. Pro-amnesty forces are trying to come up with a pro-amnesty argument to sell citizens of the United States.
Now of course I read the longer explanation linked from the alert, and it did mention assimilation. It claims that "Assimilation is both key to protecting that [American] culture and to the immigrant’s chances of success. History has proven that Latinos are quite capable of rapid assimilation." However, nowhere in the article did it address the financial impacts on entitlement programs like social security, medicare, welfare and the newly signed healthcare bill. Nowhere did it address the fact that our unemployment has risen to recent highs. Nowhere did it address the environment or congestion in cities. Assimilation is a problem, but its not the whole story, though it is a major concern to many.
As current protests and counter protests that have stemmed from the Arizona law have taught us, assimilation is one of the more emotional issues surrounding the immigration debate. When schools ban display of the American Flag for fear of offending Hispanics, other communities embrace the flag. The civil unrest is the product of a failure to assimilate due to high rates. In the face of this new backlash, pro-amnesty forces are trying a new term: assimilation immigration. Just like "comprehensive immigration reform" attempted to allay the concerns of those of us interested in securing our borders, "assimilation immigration" is an attempt to assure the American public that the cultural divides created by unsustainable immigration rates can be alleviated.
If you want to talk about a just immigration policy, you need to address the humanity of the problem in the context of the numbers with an understanding of the impacts of the proposed solutions. Calling amnesty "assimilation immigration" isn't enough.
SOLOMON GIFFORD is the Director of Technology for NumbersUSA
Updated: Mon, May 17th 2010 @ 9:21pm EDT