The Melting Pot Going Cold

by James Towe

Watching the immigration debate and the various agendas battling one another, I've observed too much chatter around the periphery of the main point. Maybe it's because of the current political and social climate. People have become hesitant to discuss, with any depth, matters relating to national identity and culture. 

Being blunt and honest may be perceived as bigoted or at best a provincial and outdated point of view. I can’t determine with certainty if this is a residual effect of America’s ethnic divisions or something more sinister. I worry it is an effort by community leaders and our government leadership to blur national identity and borders for a more inclusive, global community, but I digress.

I find that the argument (we are a ‘land of immigrants’, thus must open our doors to more immigrants) put forth by those in support of mass immigration and the current amnesty bill obliges us to accept the immigrant masses, legal or otherwise, since many Americans today are descendants of the immigration surge that took place in the latter half of the 19th century through the early 1920s.

I'm not aware of a moral requirement that demands this global obligation. We have millions upon millions of our own down in the dumps, so to speak. Immigration quotas are at our discretion, as a country and a people. It should serve the national interest, should it not? 

Many argue that indeed low talent immigration does benefit the country with an infusion of low cost labor, and the nebulous notion of 'diversity'. Viewing immigration one-dimensionally as a point of convenience, as it might relate to consumer prices or the assortment of various ethnic restaurants in your neighborhood is not sufficient to determine the cost/value ratio of mass immigration.

Social Costs 

Being short and concise about this is difficult, but I shall try. As most would understand, homogeneity or the ‘oneness’ of a country is essential for its cohesion, unity and identity. This is especially true in a geographical giant like the United States. Uncontrolled immigration at a rapid pace negates the ability of the country to absorb and immerse immigrants into the prevailing American fabric. And please don't ask what constitutes 'American'.

Arriving immigrants have gravitated traditionally to locales they find familiar and comfortable. They tend to settle in communities with populations similar to their own cultural and ethnic makeup. When this phenomenon exists within an area of a city or cities, over time the descendants of immigrants venture into other areas and adopt the culture and language of the at large population. This phenomenon has repeated itself several times in our young history with varying degrees of success, but for the most part, these immigrants adopted their new country; their children and grandchildren were simply ‘American’ with vague attachments to their ancestral homeland. 

Latin America

Today's immigrants from Latin America are different in two regards. These immigrants arrive in large, seemingly never ending numbers. Their communities in the United States become, to a great extent, self-sufficient. These areas have become cultural microcosms of what they left behind. 

As these communities grow, the melting pot expectation sputters. Their attitudes can be as nationalistic toward the old country as it is ethnocentric. Specifically, the ethnocentric nature of today's Latin American immigrant is especially worrisome in a world attempting to turn away from ethnic and racial identification.

Latin America has a strong agrarian and socialistic tradition. Capitalism to many crossing our southern border consider it an imperialistic system used to oppress the masses. These attitudes do not bode well for the concepts of rugged individualism and the virtues of private sector business. This is where the cultural fabric is threatened. As I write this, nearly fifty million U.S. residents (not necessarily citizens) receive some type of food aid from the federal government (Link). This is not financially sustainable nor is it preferable. It threatens our national cohesion and in the not so long term, our ability to maintain global competitiveness.

Immigration reform without a proven solution to the border must be avoided.  In 1986, Congress made the same promises the Senate now offers; allow amnesty, followed by border enforcement. Millions of illegal immigrants later, they want to fool us again. Shame on us if we accept another empty promise from Washington.