Saturday, April 15, 2006

The BEST article on immigration

I've seen is, not surprisingly, from Peggy Noonan.

It would be presumptous to attempt to paraphrase Noonan, a Reagan speechwriter, so in her own words:

I love immigrants...I love them because they are brave. They left their country and struggled their way to this one to get a better life...I love immigrants because they make themselves lonely for their children. They go to a place where few share their language, their memories, their references. They do this so their children will have a greater chance at happiness. I love immigrants because they invest in the future with the biggest thing they can invest with: their life.

Not sure its ever been said better.

This week I went to the immigration march in New York. We massed on the Brooklyn Bridge and then marched into lower Manhattan. I just wanted to be there and see who was marching and hear what they said.
I walked along with a young black woman, an American in her mid-20s, who was chatting in English and Spanish with those nearby. She was clearly in some organizational position, and she was carrying an American flag...But it was clear all the American flags were a strategic decision. All those Mexican flags in the marches in L.A. and elsewhere 10 days ago had been a public relations disaster. So now it was all American flags.
We curled past the courthouses of downtown, up Broadway, to Chinatown. Chinatown is of course largely populated by immigrants, legal and illegal, but they were not in the march. In fact, I did not see a single Asian in the march. They were all working, in the shops and on the street. They had no intention of letting yet another New York march get in the way of business. And you know, the marchers seemed to sense it. They didn't spend long in Chinatown.

Not a *single* Asian.

And Noonan's best point I think:

While the marchers seemed to be good people, and were very likable, the march itself, I think, violated the old immigrant politesse--the general understanding that you're not supposed to get here and immediately start making demands. It would never have occurred to my grandparents to demand respect. They thought they had to earn it. It would never have occurred to them to air mass grievances, assert rights, issue a list of legislative demands. Especially if they were here unlawfully.


We are a sovereign nation operating under the rule of law. That, in fact, is why many immigrants come here. They come from places where the law, such as it is, is corrupt, malleable, limiting. Does it make sense to subvert our own laws to facilitate the entrance of those in pursuit of government by law? Whatever our sentiments and sympathies as individuals, America has the right, and the responsibility, to protect the integrity of its borders, to make the laws by which immigrants are granted entrance, and to enforce those laws.
I think those whose primary concern is preserving the Hispanic vote for the Democratic Party, or not losing the Hispanic vote for the Republican Party, are being cynical, selfish, and stupid, too. It's not all about who gets what vote, it's about continuing a system of laws that has allowed America to become, among many other things, a place immigrants want to come to. And it's about admitting immigrants in a coherent, orderly, legal manner, with an eye first to what America needs. That's how you continue a good thing, which is what we've had.

A thought. Two generations ago City College (part of the City University of New York) was considered one of the finest colleges in the country - just a cut below the Ivies - and much more affordable to immigrants. A generation ago, in a paroxysm of egalitarian and multicultural overreach, a bunch of nitwits got together and decided that City College should have open admissions - basically anyone with a pulse ought to get in.

Unsurprisingly City College and the CUNY system saw the caliber of its students, its faculty and its reputation sink disastrously. It hasn't recovered.

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