You can order "The New Case Against Immigration (Both Legal and Illegal)" by Mark Krikorian at Amazon. And you can read reviews and descriptions here.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, MY AMERICAN FRIENDS,
Mark Krikorian (with four Armenian immigrant grandparents) is as American as the 4th of July. But multitudes of the leaders of our nation's establishment and elites don't appear to be -- that is, they are not "as American as the 4th of July," regardless of how many generations their families have been in this country.
The distinction is one of the most important contributions of his new book by the Sentinel imprint of Penguin publishers (although Krikorian does not claim any special designation for himself).
In myriad ways, he describes how those elites have lost confidence in the ideas behind the 1776 Movement we honor today.
As you celebrate the 1776 Movement this weekend, keep in mind that we are commemorating the creation of a separate national community which would govern itself for the benefit of the members of the community. Krikorian's book raises real questions about how many of our nation's top political, business, labor, religious, academic and media leaders still believe in that central 4th of July idea.
HIGH IMMIGRATION THREATENS 1776 IDEA
Perhaps nowhere is this loss of confidence more clear than in the majority of the elite's position on immigration.
They insist on mass immigration to make up for the fact that (as these elites believe) 300 million Americans are (pick your favorites) too old, too lazy, too dumb, too content, too in-bred, too soft, too infertile or just too American to survive or thrive on their own.
Both John McCain and Barack Obama have their version of this belief which has been a hallmark of the George W. Bush presidency.
Krikorian, a fascinating writer and thinker with a knack for coining phrases that stick (plenty of them in this book) has a word for these kinds of elites:
He has been touting the label and the concept for years. To Krikorian, these elites aren't anti-American. They aren't loyal to another country. They aren't traitors. They simply no longer have a sense that sovereign nations are particularly important, or that they as elites bear a lot of extra responsibility toward members of their own national community. By virtue of birth, they are U.S. citizens, but their loyalty is not to a national community.
Thus, these post-Americans insist on obscenely high immigration numbers regardless of their effects on members of our (their?) national community.
If a politician stands up today and extolls patriotism but also supports policies that imported 1.6 million "less-educated" immigrants (2000-2005) while pushing nearly 1 million "less-educated" Americans into unemployment and another 1.5 million "less-educated" Americans out of the labor market altogether, just what kind of a patriotic American is he/she?
LIVELY WRITING, INSIGHTFUL THINKING, NEW ANALYSIS
I found the first two chapters on "The Cracked Melting Pot" and on sovereignty by themselves to be worth getting the book. As long-time members of NumbersUSA know, my top interests in immigration have been about its effect on economic justice and environmental/quality-of-life sustainability. But Krikorian totally captivated me with his analysis of the assimilation and sovereignty issues.
For two decades, you've seen and heard Mark Krikorian as the most quoted man in America on immigration, on national TV, radio, the blogosphere and print media. He is nearly always interesting.
I see three reasons why this book is so readable, even for those of us who have been reading about immigration for years:
- He worked and traveled extensively throughout the nations of the former Soviet Union. This has given him special insights in and appreciation of natural human longings to live within communities that feel like their own and what a marvelously delicate creation a functioning national community is.
- He has been quite a student of Marxist theory and practice and frequently brings the skewed humor and lessons of failed utopianism into his analysis. He frequently compares the absurdity of our immigration policies to various experiments inside communist countries.
- As the long-time executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, he has read all those reports, studies and data tables that the rest of us should have been inhaling but never quite got the job done. This 235-page book is an extremely boiled down version of all that research, providing us the most cogent, entertaining and useful nuggets. Because the CIS research has been so broad, Mark is able to provide us with a truly expansive view of our subject. Even if you think you know enough to understand -- and debate -- our immigration mess, I recommend this book because it indeed does offer a lot of "new" case material. And because it will save you having to read a lot of other books and research.
CHALLENGING ELITES IN WAYS THEY MIGHT HEAR
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of Krikorian's book is that it is far more than pointed analysis that provides those of us concerned about immigration something to cheer about.
Rather, every opinion is backed by solid evidence and stated in the dispassionate style of a quality think tank. Krikorian does not trigger emotionalism with emotionalist language. His years of debating in the media have taught him well how to anticipate reactions and rejoinders to anything he says. So, his pages are filled with caveats and nuances that add credibility and moderation to his arguments.
Although Krikorian's "New Case Against Immigration" is primarily a case against the nation's elites who have abandoned their less fortunate countrymen, he presents it in a way that I am hopeful will cause many elites to rethink positions that they have almost accidentally fallen into.
CROSSING IDEOLOGICAL BARRIERS
Although the Center for Immigration Studies has plenty of liberal scholars, Krikorian has played a major role among the conservative intelligensia in arguing for immigration reductions. I had expected this book to be primarily aimed at post-American conservatives and to be a tool for other conservatives as they fight for sensible immigration policies.
I was surprised to find arguments that should resonate with most moderate and liberal Americans, as well.
Krikorian argues for this, writing: "This is not a strictly conservative argument, though I am a conservative. While there may be anti-Americans on the hard left or post-Americans on the libertarian right, whose ideologies lead them to welcome the effects of mass immigration, this book is intended for Americans in the patriotic mainstream, liberal and conservative, who can agree on the broad contours of a desirable society ... "
He then lists eight goals that seem far beyond ideology, with an appeal across ideological spectrums:
- A strong sense of shared national identity
- Opportunities for upward mobility, especially for the poor, the less educated and generally those at the margins of society
- The availability of high-wage jobs in knowledge-intensive, capital-intensive industries
- A large middle class, with the gap between rich and poor not growing inordinately
- A functional, responsible, and affordable system of social provision for the poor
- Middle-class norms of behavior, such as orderliness and cleanliness of public places, residential occupancy limits and zoning rules, and obeying traffic laws
- Government spending on certain kinds of infrastructure, such as schools, roads and public amenities like national parks
- Environmental stewardship, to provide clean air and water to our descendants, and historical stewardship, to preserve the treasures handed down to us by our ancestors
Considering NumbersUSA's wide diversity in membership, I would think these are fairly acceptable and honored goals among our members, regardless of ideology.
Krikorian uses his seven chapters to argue how our immigration policies undermine all those goals and that the key factor of the large number of problems with immigration is the large numbers themselves.
Maybe these aren't exactly "happy" greetings on Independence Day, but I am convinced that we are unlikely to get immigration -- and America -- back on track until a significant minority of the nation's elites join the rest of us in once again thinking of themselves as members of our national community, dedicated to immigration policies that stop hurting the members of our community.
Krikorian's book is a happy step in that direction.
Updated: Sat, Jul 5th 2008 @ 7:21pm EDT