Monday, October 19, 2015

Having to Choose: A Nation’s Agonizing Immigration Duty

Dr. Peggy Sands Orchowski

{This is an exclusive guest post and I find it interesting and controversial. - Michael L.}

OrchowskiIt’s a truth universally acknowledged that no nation can sustain open borders. Even the wealthiest most popular “nations of immigrants” like the U.S. cannot possibly accept everyone who wants to immigrate here or even qualifies to do so. Nations have the core right and duty to choose who can immigrate: come in, stay, work and become a citizen. They do it through immigration laws established by democratic representative government and that are to be enforced. Saying that, immigration decisions certainly are one of the most difficult any nation state must make.

Think of the U.S. and other highly desired immigrant host countries as a popular public college. Millions of people qualify for entry but college administrators get to and must choose who is accepted for admission. They are making life changing decisions for the applicants, and often agonizing ones for the colleges trying to be fair and diverse. As a result, responding to changing conditions, college admission requirements usually change over time, as do immigration laws. But the admission policies in place at any one time have to be upheld and enforced (allowing for some flexibility in special cases) or there is chaos.

Our 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act is 50 years old this year. It is the most liberal immigration law in the world, the legacy of Ted Kennedy and the last major Great Society bill to be passed by the “fabulous 89th Congress”.  It truly changed the diversity of America. But it did not allow open borders. Instead it imposed a complicated 7% formula. Still today, immigrants from any nationality can apply for a green card. But no nationality will get more than 7 percent of all the permanent immigration visas granted in one year (currently about 1.2 million annually). Surplus applicants from that nation are placed on a waiting list. Every nationality is to be treated equally with no discrimination against and no preferences for (a political exception was made for Cubans in 1966).

The INA also changed another traditional admission priority for immigrants. Instead of basing admission on the individual migrant’s ability to work as had been the case since earliest days of the nation (remember, handicapped and ill migrants were turned away at Ellis Island no matter now close a family member they were), the INA gave a priority for green cards to extended family members. “Family unification” not “work ableness” is still the top qualification for a green card today.

Significantly, the Congressional jurisdiction for immigration also changed from the Labor Committee to the Judiciary committee. Immigration suddenly took on the tenor of social justice and even a sacred civil right -- which it isn't of course. Now millions of people feel qualified to immigrate to the United States. Millions apply. The U.S. simply can’t take them all.

The agonizing universal truth about immigration is that immigrants get to apply but the nation state gets to decide based on national immigration laws. Those laws have two roles: to bring in the fresh new eager labor and energy of new immigrants that most every nation now wants to add to their growth and prosperity; and to protect the integrity, national identity and labor standards of the host country’s citizenry.

That difficult choice becomes a most terrible dilemma when facing millions of desperate migrants at the borders with their families.  Humanitarian and ethnic supporters demand their right to immigrate. But even a collective of small well off nation states like the EU can’t provide enough housing, services and jobs for them all. They can’t expect that hundreds of thousands of migrants from a vastly different culture will integrate within a reasonable time into their national cultures -- ones based especially on freedom for women. Who among them should be chosen? What happens to the vast majority who aren’t?

Obviously massive permanent immigration is not a solution. It is unreasonable to expect nation states to do it and unfair to call them “anti-mmigrant” when they won’t. Another process other than massive immigration will have to be negotiated to help citizens of failing states find refuge, peace and prosperity.

{Peggy Sands Orchowski  Ph.D. has covered immigration reform on Capitol Hill for the last 10 years and is the author of the new book, The Law That Changed The Face of America: The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. For more information, please visit,}


  1. The citizenship clause of the 14th amendment was never designed to address immigration illegal or otherwise since it would be another 25 years for any immigration laws of any kind to even exist. And those that did were sporadic and narrow until national immigration laws that arrived 45 years later. The citizenship clause of the 14th amendment was intended to finalize for all time the status of freed slaves AND their children so that no one could come back and say the 14th amendment only freed the slaves who were slaves at THAT time and previously. America wouldn't institute any immigration laws, by judicial review until the 1882 Chinese exclusion act. And this was not an immigration law but a NON immigration law. This law was repealed in 1943.

    As a practical matter though the immigration authorities sidestepped any stated or implied regulations by allowing themselves to deny entry to anyone for any reason w/o explanation. It was not uncommon for immigrants to Ellis Island to be sent back for a cough, pinkeye, being crippled. The Federal government would pay to send them back but back they went.

    Importantly though it's important to make very hardheaded choices. Just because someone claims they want to come here doesn't translate into having to allow them in. For example, large numbers of illegals from Mexico in fact come from Oaxaca. Why is this relevant? Because Oxacans typically are not Spanish speakers and are not from the predominantly white European and Lebanese stock that form the core of the economic and political elite of Mexico. They are Mexico's indigenous underclass. In many are functionally illiterate in Spanish and are high school dropouts in Mexico and not the Fullbright scholars that Obama claims they are. They are Mexico's problem to solve. They are no more "Latino" or "Hispanic" in the US than they are in Mexico, which is not much. And if they are fleeing Mexico for the reasons they say they are why are they so intent on eventually reabsorbing the Southwest into Mexico as La Raza. If they're fleeing for what they say are their lives why are they so sentimental about it?

    Are Mizrahi and Maghrebi Jews sentimental about where they came from? Some are, probably. But are they clamoring to annex Israel into Tunisia to make it all one big Tunisia? No of course not.

    I think therein the quandary Europe is mired in. They wish to be perceived and kind and generous and want you to thank them for welcoming in millions of so called migrants, who seemingly 75% are young strong healthy men. But at the same time they don't appear to have any desire to assimilate and the Europeans drowning in their own self loathing are loath to demand they assimilate. So in a year or 5 when 10-15% of Europe is Middle eastern Arab Muslim living on the dole and fighting tooth and nail to assimilate be it France or Denmark or Germany then what? Sweden will be a majority foreign immigrant in 35 years current course and speed. Let's stay away from the nativist arguments about culture, sweep them aside. What happens to your economy when no one speaks the language of the country, goes to school, or has much of an ability in the language, government or society of where they live? Assuming you bypass the Yugoslavia ethnic wars phase, that is.

  2. Irony.

    "Remember Ahmed Mohamed, the boy who was suspended for bringing a clock suspected bomb to school, and who was invited to meet with President Hussein Obama?

    Over the weekend, young Ahmed met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is under indictment for genocide by the International Criminal Court. Now, President Obama will not risk his political future by meeting with Ahmad."

    Anyone see that coming? lol

  3. He already met with him. The statement is he won't meet him again, at the White House.

  4. Off topic.
    It looks as though Seamus Milne is going to be Jeremy Corbyn's communications director.
    He's a Stalinist.
    An actual Stalinist.

    1. Shameless Milne has found the perfect role for himself to disseminate info to the comrades.

    2. Indeed.
      I've seen several "decent" people on the left now saying they will leave the Labour Party.
      It's really breathtaking what is happening.

  5. I find myself always being put into a position whereby I have to explain why following the law is better than lawlessness, and that following a very liberal and fair immigration law does not make you a racist. I'm glad that the author pointed out that wishing to emigrate to the United States is not a civil right. The line must be drawn at the law with exceptions for only special cases.

    1. It's not exactly what this article is about, but if anyone is interested in quite a long read, this is interesting.
      It's a chapter from Ed West's book " The Diversity Illusion" and deals with some of the complexities around immigration and multiculturalism. He's just posted it on his website due to the "conversation" we are having in Britain about " British values". And whatever we mean by that.

    2. Obastard says he will veto the immigration bill because it contains a provision to punish sanctuary cities. In short, not only do we have to pass a bill that criminalizes constitutional nullification, which it is already illegal because that's what caused the Civil War, but we have a President who says he will veto a bill that feels it's necessary to underline that law.

      We are so screwed.