Cato Unbound – Migrating Toward National ID?

by on August 28, 2006 · 38 comments

The current Cato Unbound, Mexicans in America, is the usual provocative and wide-ranging fare.  There’s no lack of issues – or passion – in the debate about immigration.

One item in the current discussion that piques my interest – indeed, concerns me - is the formative consensus that “internal enforcement” of the immigration laws is a good idea. 

University of Texas at Austin economics professor Stephen Trejo writes:

Given that most illegal immigrants come to the United States to work, why don’t we get serious about workplace enforcement? Retail stores are able to verify in a matter of seconds consumer credit cards used to make purchases. Why couldn’t a similar system be put in place to verify the Social Security numbers of employees before they are hired? . . .  I suspect that we could do much more to control illegal immigration by directing technology and other enforcement resources toward the workplace rather than toward our porous southern border.

Doug Massey, co-director of the Mexican Migration Project at the Office of Population Research, Princeton University, has interesting information and ideas for reform to which he would adjoin “a simple employment verification program required of all employers to confirm the right to work.”

It does sound simple – until you step back and realize that the simple idea they’re talking about is giving the federal government the power to approve or disapprove every Americans’ job application.  Does anyone think that this power, once adopted – and the technology put in place to administer it - will be limited to immigration law enforcement?

To do this, all people - not just immigrants, all people - would have to be able to prove their identity to federal standards, likely using some kind of bullet-proof identity document (even more secure than current law requires).  That will soon be in place thanks to the REAL ID Act.  Once we’re all carrying a bullet-proof identity document, do you think that its use will be limited to proof of identity for new employees?

It’s easy to see how facile acceptance of internal immigration law enforcement adds weight to arguments for expanded government control and tracking of all citizens.  There are plenty of reasons to be concerned with internal enforcement, and the national ID almost certainly required to make that possible.  Many of them are discussed in my book, Identity Crisis: How Identification is Overused and Misunderstood.

  • enigma_foundry

    You are right about this, and the concern echos a point made over at Freedom to Tinker, with regards to the NSA data harvesting projects. The concern was stated that we are building a very dangerous infrastructure, and even if we are inclined to trust who is in power today with this power, someday, someone very malevolent could gain control of the system. I went a bit further, noting that the existence of such a system would attract different sorts of people to power, or the temptation of an otherwise innocuous regime to use this infrastructure would be too great to resist.

    In any case the interaction of power structures with instrumentalities of total control, is not something that we can afford to be doing uncontrolled experiments with, and make no mistake, if we build these infrastructures we are conducting an experiment called: “Can we make 1984 happen in the real world?”

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    You are right about this, and the concern echos a point made over at Freedom to Tinker, with regards to the NSA data harvesting projects. The concern was stated that we are building a very dangerous infrastructure, and even if we are inclined to trust who is in power today with this power, someday, someone very malevolent could gain control of the system. I went a bit further, noting that the existence of such a system would attract different sorts of people to power, or the temptation of an otherwise innocuous regime to use this infrastructure would be too great to resist.

    In any case the interaction of power structures with instrumentalities of total control, is not something that we can afford to be doing uncontrolled experiments with, and make no mistake, if we build these infrastructures we are conducting an experiment called: “Can we make 1984 happen in the real world?”

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    A quick question for the serious libertarian scholars on the board: some of America’s traditional anti-government fears (and their relevant expressions in the Bill of Rights) can be clearly traced back to specific colonial/revolutionary experiences, and the consensus forged as a result. So two things:

    (1) Has anyone given serious thought to what conditions would be required in order to forge consensus on new government-limiting Constitutional protections? I’m really hoping we don’t need to live through 1984 + a new Revolution before we realize, for example, that abuses of a national ID database would be nearly inevitable and terrible. What conditions short of Revolution would forge the necessary consensus to make this a Constitutional-level mandate?

    (2) If there were a serious push for new Constitutional protections and limitations on government, has anyone of a libertarian leaning given serious thought to what ‘Bill of Rights, Pt. 2′ should contain? What it might contain that would be broadly politically palatable?

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    A quick question for the serious libertarian scholars on the board: some of America’s traditional anti-government fears (and their relevant expressions in the Bill of Rights) can be clearly traced back to specific colonial/revolutionary experiences, and the consensus forged as a result. So two things:

    (1) Has anyone given serious thought to what conditions would be required in order to forge consensus on new government-limiting Constitutional protections? I’m really hoping we don’t need to live through 1984 + a new Revolution before we realize, for example, that abuses of a national ID database would be nearly inevitable and terrible. What conditions short of Revolution would forge the necessary consensus to make this a Constitutional-level mandate?

    (2) If there were a serious push for new Constitutional protections and limitations on government, has anyone of a libertarian leaning given serious thought to what ‘Bill of Rights, Pt. 2′ should contain? What it might contain that would be broadly politically palatable?

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Well, what do you think is going to happen when you have an open southern border? A wealthy minority (upper middle and upper classes) has benefited from the labor of illegal immigrants, now everyone will pay the price. This is why open borders and open immigration are inherently destructive to national sovereignty, the democratic process and liberty. Things like this are only the tip of the iceberg of what future governments may try to do to reassert control.

    I wonder if any libertarians will actually rethink their idealistic views on immigration over things like this. Probably not. It’s not that immigration is bad, but this is the sort of thing that is bound to happen when you have more than a modest, controlled flow of skilled immigrants.

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    Luis, good, interesting questions. I think that we don’t need a Bill of Rights II. We need to actually follow Bill of Rights I, as well as Constitution I (enuimerated powers, federalism, and separation of powers). Getting there? Not easy – especially these days with the “terrorism” meme keeping everyone terrorized.

    MikeT, I wonder if the benefits of immigrant labor accrues particularly to the wealthy. In fact, because they’re employed in things like agriculture and food processing, the role they have in controlling retail costs may skew in favor of the middle class and poor. I don’t know the truth of things, but you should support your “exploitation by the wealthy” theory if you can.

    More importantly, I think, Massey points out in his piece that in-migration hasn’t changed much – but out-migration has, because of efforts to control the border. With the border zone as a gauntlet, immigrants don’t dare return home if they intend to come back. So less border enforcement could reduce the numbers of illegal immigrants in the country by making it safe for them to go home, if only seasonally.

    It’s a debate too often driven by passion so thoughtful people should be open to all information and potential solutions.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Well, what do you think is going to happen when you have an open southern border? A wealthy minority (upper middle and upper classes) has benefited from the labor of illegal immigrants, now everyone will pay the price. This is why open borders and open immigration are inherently destructive to national sovereignty, the democratic process and liberty. Things like this are only the tip of the iceberg of what future governments may try to do to reassert control.

    I wonder if any libertarians will actually rethink their idealistic views on immigration over things like this. Probably not. It’s not that immigration is bad, but this is the sort of thing that is bound to happen when you have more than a modest, controlled flow of skilled immigrants.

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    Luis, good, interesting questions. I think that we don’t need a Bill of Rights II. We need to actually follow Bill of Rights I, as well as Constitution I (enuimerated powers, federalism, and separation of powers). Getting there? Not easy – especially these days with the “terrorism” meme keeping everyone terrorized.

    MikeT, I wonder if the benefits of immigrant labor accrues particularly to the wealthy. In fact, because they’re employed in things like agriculture and food processing, the role they have in controlling retail costs may skew in favor of the middle class and poor. I don’t know the truth of things, but you should support your “exploitation by the wealthy” theory if you can.

    More importantly, I think, Massey points out in his piece that in-migration hasn’t changed much – but out-migration has, because of efforts to control the border. With the border zone as a gauntlet, immigrants don’t dare return home if they intend to come back. So less border enforcement could reduce the numbers of illegal immigrants in the country by making it safe for them to go home, if only seasonally.

    It’s a debate too often driven by passion so thoughtful people should be open to all information and potential solutions.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Well, how about this for starters. The immigration “reform” bill would entitle former illegals to tens of billions in government benefits. The middle class pays taxes to support those, and receives what… a few hundred dollars at the most off of their grocery bill? We and the migrant workers would be better off with strict immigration controls and work visas for farm hands. It would keep the wages higher for the migrants, which is the honest thing to do, and it would keep out a flood of labor. American workers are more likely to end up in a scenario like this, than end up with the cheap maid, nanny, restaurant or hotel labor that is so famously defended by open borders advocates.

    What libertarians fail to answer is why not allow literally every unskilled worker to come to America? Wouldn’t America be great if we had another 200 million unskilled workers to put to use? Please don’t take that as a jab against you, Jim, but seriously, when is there enough? At what point do we say to them that we have enough unskilled or barely skilled labor?

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Well, how about this for starters. The immigration “reform” bill would entitle former illegals to tens of billions in government benefits. The middle class pays taxes to support those, and receives what… a few hundred dollars at the most off of their grocery bill? We and the migrant workers would be better off with strict immigration controls and work visas for farm hands. It would keep the wages higher for the migrants, which is the honest thing to do, and it would keep out a flood of labor. American workers are more likely to end up in a scenario like this, than end up with the cheap maid, nanny, restaurant or hotel labor that is so famously defended by open borders advocates.

    What libertarians fail to answer is why not allow literally every unskilled worker to come to America? Wouldn’t America be great if we had another 200 million unskilled workers to put to use? Please don’t take that as a jab against you, Jim, but seriously, when is there enough? At what point do we say to them that we have enough unskilled or barely skilled labor?

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    Jim: my sense is that Bill of Rights I requires a very loose construction to cover some of the things that really must be addressed, and that loose construction is both (1) problematic in and of itself and (2) a poor foundation to build your government restraints on (as the pro-choice camp has been discovering for forty years.)

    The alternative is to strictly construe the interstate commerce clause in Constitution I so as to restrict the reach of the Federal government, but then (1) the states would almost certainly overreach themselves, so the problem would not really be solved, and (2) lots of parts of the modern state fall apart. Because of (2), we’re never going to see strict construction of the interstate clause unless other Constitutional provisions are added to explicitly allow some of those modern functions.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    (Tangentially, I do think that the best way to make the costs and benefits of immigration clear to the whole country is to have a relatively foolproof and strictly enforced means of denying work to illegals. The current debate, where no one really knows how many illegals are in the country, anti-immigration forces pretend that our economy would get along just fine without the illegals, and pro-immigration forces tend to pretend that no ‘American’ jobs are lost to illegals, is sadly distanced from actual reality. Unfortunately, I can’t see any way to do this without the mentioned national ID card.)

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    Jim: my sense is that Bill of Rights I requires a very loose construction to cover some of the things that really must be addressed, and that loose construction is both (1) problematic in and of itself and (2) a poor foundation to build your government restraints on (as the pro-choice camp has been discovering for forty years.)

    The alternative is to strictly construe the interstate commerce clause in Constitution I so as to restrict the reach of the Federal government, but then (1) the states would almost certainly overreach themselves, so the problem would not really be solved, and (2) lots of parts of the modern state fall apart. Because of (2), we’re never going to see strict construction of the interstate clause unless other Constitutional provisions are added to explicitly allow some of those modern functions.

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis Villa

    (Tangentially, I do think that the best way to make the costs and benefits of immigration clear to the whole country is to have a relatively foolproof and strictly enforced means of denying work to illegals. The current debate, where no one really knows how many illegals are in the country, anti-immigration forces pretend that our economy would get along just fine without the illegals, and pro-immigration forces tend to pretend that no ‘American’ jobs are lost to illegals, is sadly distanced from actual reality. Unfortunately, I can’t see any way to do this without the mentioned national ID card.)

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    (1) Has anyone given serious thought to what conditions would be required in order to forge consensus on new government-limiting Constitutional protections?

    I am with Jim here–the Bill of Rights is a clear set of principles, which has proved its worth, and utmost caution is required when thinking of modifying such a basic document. I don’t see any reason for modifying the Bill of Rights. Although, note, I don’t fall into your class of people ‘of libertarian leaning’* although I don’t understand why only the thoughts of members of that class of people are held out for special consideration. The Alien and Sedition Acts and the DMCA are just examples of road kill for the Bill of Rights. (I am being hopeful in the case of DMCA) The National ID card, I hope, will be another one. I would suggest you read the editorial in the current issue of 2600, BTW. The theme was who should we blame.

    I don’t like discussion of a Bill of Rights II because that process would surely end up getting hijacked by those who want to limit freedom, not to protect it.

    While the pro-choice camp has had there travails (recent legislation in SD for example) generally the courts have done a good job protecting rights when laws have over-reached on this issue, IMHO.

    The immigration debate is very complex issue, but one point needs to be made here: it is an issue in which we are reminded that we are part of a larger network, and what happens in the USA will affect what happens in Mexico, and we overlook our connections and our responsibility at our OWN peril. Jorge Castaneda has had some interesting thoughts over at Project Syndicate. He’s had consistently thoughtful articles there, and I really hope he has a future in Mexican politics.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    (1) Has anyone given serious thought to what conditions would be required in order to forge consensus on new government-limiting Constitutional protections?

    I am with Jim here–the Bill of Rights is a clear set of principles, which has proved its worth, and utmost caution is required when thinking of modifying such a basic document. I don’t see any reason for modifying the Bill of Rights. Although, note, I don’t fall into your class of people ‘of libertarian leaning’* although I don’t understand why only the thoughts of members of that class of people are held out for special consideration. The Alien and Sedition Acts and the DMCA are just examples of road kill for the Bill of Rights. (I am being hopeful in the case of DMCA) The National ID card, I hope, will be another one. I would suggest you read the editorial in the current issue of 2600, BTW. The theme was who should we blame.

    I don’t like discussion of a Bill of Rights II because that process would surely end up getting hijacked by those who want to limit freedom, not to protect it.

    While the pro-choice camp has had there travails (recent legislation in SD for example) generally the courts have done a good job protecting rights when laws have over-reached on this issue, IMHO.

    The immigration debate is very complex issue, but one point needs to be made here: it is an issue in which we are reminded that we are part of a larger network, and what happens in the USA will affect what happens in Mexico, and we overlook our connections and our responsibility at our OWN peril. Jorge Castaneda has had some interesting thoughts over at Project Syndicate. He’s had consistently thoughtful articles there, and I really hope he has a future in Mexican politics.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Well, I guess my response to Jim is going to be held in moderation indefinitely at this point…

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Well, I guess my response to Jim is going to be held in moderation indefinitely at this point…

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    MikeT, it might have gotten lost somewhere. I confess I don’t even know whether or how we’re moderating comments. Can you repost? Ugh – I might be asking you to rewrite something lengthy. Apologies.

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    MikeT, it might have gotten lost somewhere. I confess I don’t even know whether or how we’re moderating comments. Can you repost? Ugh – I might be asking you to rewrite something lengthy. Apologies.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    It’s probably stuck somewhere in the comments section of Movable Type’s admin console. Don’t worry, here are the two links I was posting:

    First one.

    Second one.

    The gist of my post was that open borders advocates don’t look at the obvious costs like a lot of American construction workers, ie skilled blue collar workers, losing their jobs to cheaper, more desparate labor. Libertarians tend to be richer by a wide margin and will only be perceived as elitist on a level worse than left-liberals if they don’t face up to the fact that millions of cheap workers flooding our labor market is bound to depress wages.

    Additionally, open borders people tend to attack anyone who calls for immigration restrictions that are healthy racist xenophobes. Few people would have any problems granting worker visas to several hundred thousand migrant workers if need be so that they could work legally, openly and be assured fair legal protection. The migrant workers are only a minority, though. Illegals are taking jobs ranging from fast food to federal contract work repairing warships these days.

    When I go back to rural Virginia from Northern Virginia, I see working class Americans of all races doing the jobs that illegals and questionables do in Northern Virginia. It is a very real issue for them, unlike the wealthy of Northern Virginia and other areas. As I have pointed out in the past, these people are more likely to lose their job to an illegal than benefit from the illegal’s labor. If you want them to actually understand that liberty means something for them too, you are going to have to bite the bullet and control immigration while you bring down the welfare-warfare state.

    I have always wondered, though, at what point there is “too much immigration” to open borders supporters. Wouldn’t America be great if we extended a worker visa to literally every single poor person on Earth who could get here? No restrictions, period. If 300,000,000 can arrive over the course of a decade, thus doubling our population in a decade, the more the merrier right? And no wiggling there. Open borders by definition means that you have no right to object to any number, even if it would amount to a culture-killing migration of workers.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Gah! Again! I think it is the fact that I put two links in there. If you see two comments of mine in moderation, the second one is the one you should hit “publish on.”

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Just as a heads up, y’all should try Akismet (http://akismet.com/) for your spam filter. I’ve used it on WordPress and Movable Type and so far I have yet to have any meaningful problem with either blog platform having spam get past Akismet. I highly recommend it over the crap that comes default with Movable Type or MT Blacklist.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    It’s probably stuck somewhere in the comments section of Movable Type’s admin console. Don’t worry, here are the two links I was posting:

    First one.

    Second one.

    The gist of my post was that open borders advocates don’t look at the obvious costs like a lot of American construction workers, ie skilled blue collar workers, losing their jobs to cheaper, more desparate labor. Libertarians tend to be richer by a wide margin and will only be perceived as elitist on a level worse than left-liberals if they don’t face up to the fact that millions of cheap workers flooding our labor market is bound to depress wages.

    Additionally, open borders people tend to attack anyone who calls for immigration restrictions that are healthy racist xenophobes. Few people would have any problems granting worker visas to several hundred thousand migrant workers if need be so that they could work legally, openly and be assured fair legal protection. The migrant workers are only a minority, though. Illegals are taking jobs ranging from fast food to federal contract work repairing warships these days.

    When I go back to rural Virginia from Northern Virginia, I see working class Americans of all races doing the jobs that illegals and questionables do in Northern Virginia. It is a very real issue for them, unlike the wealthy of Northern Virginia and other areas. As I have pointed out in the past, these people are more likely to lose their job to an illegal than benefit from the illegal’s labor. If you want them to actually understand that liberty means something for them too, you are going to have to bite the bullet and control immigration while you bring down the welfare-warfare state.

    I have always wondered, though, at what point there is “too much immigration” to open borders supporters. Wouldn’t America be great if we extended a worker visa to literally every single poor person on Earth who could get here? No restrictions, period. If 300,000,000 can arrive over the course of a decade, thus doubling our population in a decade, the more the merrier right? And no wiggling there. Open borders by definition means that you have no right to object to any number, even if it would amount to a culture-killing migration of workers.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Gah! Again! I think it is the fact that I put two links in there. If you see two comments of mine in moderation, the second one is the one you should hit “publish on.”

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Just as a heads up, y’all should try Akismet (http://akismet.com/) for your spam filter. I’ve used it on WordPress and Movable Type and so far I have yet to have any meaningful problem with either blog platform having spam get past Akismet. I highly recommend it over the crap that comes default with Movable Type or MT Blacklist.

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    There’s good evidence out there that immigrants do not displace native workers – though I doubt I’ve put the best evidence in this link. Alas, I don’t think we’ll settle it here today: I’m not expert, it’s a little off-topic, and, yeah, this comment board is running crappy!! . . .

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    There’s good evidence out there that immigrants do not displace native workers – though I doubt I’ve put the best evidence in this link. Alas, I don’t think we’ll settle it here today: I’m not expert, it’s a little off-topic, and, yeah, this comment board is running crappy!! . . .

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Jim, once again, it’s not my argument that immigrants are inherently a problem. I will restate my point again: immigration in numbers that don’t disrupt the labor market a lot is great, uncontrolled immigration that results in waves of immigrants is bad for us.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Jim, once again, it’s not my argument that immigrants are inherently a problem. I will restate my point again: immigration in numbers that don’t disrupt the labor market a lot is great, uncontrolled immigration that results in waves of immigrants is bad for us.

  • bernarda

    MikeT claims, “This is why open borders and open immigration are inherently destructive to national sovereignty, the democratic process and liberty.”

    Is that what happened between approximately 1880 to 1910 when millions of mostly poor Europeans immigrated to the U.S.? Of course those were white people, so it is different, isn’t it?

    “Following the Civil War, the floodgates opened once more, and between 1865 and 1910 about 25 million immigrants entered the United States. Those immigrants also changed the ethnic character of the United States, even more profoundly than had the Irish. For large numbers of the immigrants in the late 19th century and early 20th century came from areas which had seen few immigrants to the United States before. They came from Poland, Russia, Romania, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Turkey and many other southern and eastern European nations. Like the Irish, they tended to ghettoize themselves into communities, many of which remain to this day. There are still parts of the United States where one can hear Swedish, Italian, Polish, Yiddish and many other languages spoken in the streets. The new immigrants filled up the cities faster than they could be accommodated with comfort and found themselves jammed into tenements, crowded apartments and shoddy houses with few sanitary facilities at all. In 1880 in New York City a majority of the population did not speak English. The worst slums in the world were supposed to have existed in Chicago. And yet they continued to come in pursuit of what has been called the American dream.

    America has always needed cheap labor, and that provided much of the impetus for immigration, as it still does. In the last decades on the 19 century the building of the transcontinental railroads demanded huge numbers of laborers, and it was Irish and Italians and Chinese who did much of that work. By 1910 United States had over 200,000 miles of railroads, about as much as the rest of the world combined, and when that great building boom subsided, the immigrants remained.

    Since most of the Chinese who came to the country to work had been males, and few came with families, when the railroads were finished, they found themselves living in ghettos in the western cities with little female companionship. The social problems which arose from that were predictable, and the American response was to pass laws to restrict and discriminate against those of Asian ethnicity.

    Since much of the wealth in the nation was consolidated in the hands of predominantly white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, the social tensions that resulted from immigration and the great disparity in wealth that grew larger in the age of industrialization were multiplied. In the 1920s the doors began to close for a time. Severe restrictions were placed upon immigration, and a quota system was established whereby those who were admitted to the United States were most likely to gain entry if they were of the ethnic groups already well-established here. When an annual quota of 150,000 for immigration was established (as opposed to years when almost a million had entered) approximately 60% of those allowed to enter the country had to come from Germany and the British Isles. The rest of the world had to divvy up to 40% left over. As World War II approached an international troubles multiplied, immigration slowed once more, only to begin again after the war when millions of displaced persons, wartime refugees far from their homes, sought new beginnings her and elsewhere.”

    http://www.sagehistory.net/gildedage/immigration.htm

    What is “illegal” immigration but arbitrary standards created by racist politicians supported by their racist electorate.

    Now Republicans just don’t like mostly darker Spanish-speaking people. But notice in the article, “In 1880 in New York City a majority of the population did not speak English.”

  • bernarda

    MikeT claims, “This is why open borders and open immigration are inherently destructive to national sovereignty, the democratic process and liberty.”

    Is that what happened between approximately 1880 to 1910 when millions of mostly poor Europeans immigrated to the U.S.? Of course those were white people, so it is different, isn’t it?

    “Following the Civil War, the floodgates opened once more, and between 1865 and 1910 about 25 million immigrants entered the United States. Those immigrants also changed the ethnic character of the United States, even more profoundly than had the Irish. For large numbers of the immigrants in the late 19th century and early 20th century came from areas which had seen few immigrants to the United States before. They came from Poland, Russia, Romania, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Turkey and many other southern and eastern European nations. Like the Irish, they tended to ghettoize themselves into communities, many of which remain to this day. There are still parts of the United States where one can hear Swedish, Italian, Polish, Yiddish and many other languages spoken in the streets. The new immigrants filled up the cities faster than they could be accommodated with comfort and found themselves jammed into tenements, crowded apartments and shoddy houses with few sanitary facilities at all. In 1880 in New York City a majority of the population did not speak English. The worst slums in the world were supposed to have existed in Chicago. And yet they continued to come in pursuit of what has been called the American dream.

    America has always needed cheap labor, and that provided much of the impetus for immigration, as it still does. In the last decades on the 19 century the building of the transcontinental railroads demanded huge numbers of laborers, and it was Irish and Italians and Chinese who did much of that work. By 1910 United States had over 200,000 miles of railroads, about as much as the rest of the world combined, and when that great building boom subsided, the immigrants remained.

    Since most of the Chinese who came to the country to work had been males, and few came with families, when the railroads were finished, they found themselves living in ghettos in the western cities with little female companionship. The social problems which arose from that were predictable, and the American response was to pass laws to restrict and discriminate against those of Asian ethnicity.

    Since much of the wealth in the nation was consolidated in the hands of predominantly white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, the social tensions that resulted from immigration and the great disparity in wealth that grew larger in the age of industrialization were multiplied. In the 1920s the doors began to close for a time. Severe restrictions were placed upon immigration, and a quota system was established whereby those who were admitted to the United States were most likely to gain entry if they were of the ethnic groups already well-established here. When an annual quota of 150,000 for immigration was established (as opposed to years when almost a million had entered) approximately 60% of those allowed to enter the country had to come from Germany and the British Isles. The rest of the world had to divvy up to 40% left over. As World War II approached an international troubles multiplied, immigration slowed once more, only to begin again after the war when millions of displaced persons, wartime refugees far from their homes, sought new beginnings her and elsewhere.”

    http://www.sagehistory.net/gildedage/immigration.htm

    What is “illegal” immigration but arbitrary standards created by racist politicians supported by their racist electorate.

    Now Republicans just don’t like mostly darker Spanish-speaking people. But notice in the article, “In 1880 in New York City a majority of the population did not speak English.”

  • bernarda

    MikeT claims, “This is why open borders and open immigration are inherently destructive to national sovereignty, the democratic process and liberty.”

    Is that what happened between approximately 1880 to 1910 when millions of mostly poor Europeans immigrated to the U.S.? Of course those were white people, so it is different, isn’t it?

    “Following the Civil War, the floodgates opened once more, and between 1865 and 1910 about 25 million immigrants entered the United States. Those immigrants also changed the ethnic character of the United States, even more profoundly than had the Irish. For large numbers of the immigrants in the late 19th century and early 20th century came from areas which had seen few immigrants to the United States before. They came from Poland, Russia, Romania, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Turkey and many other southern and eastern European nations. Like the Irish, they tended to ghettoize themselves into communities, many of which remain to this day. There are still parts of the United States where one can hear Swedish, Italian, Polish, Yiddish and many other languages spoken in the streets. The new immigrants filled up the cities faster than they could be accommodated with comfort and found themselves jammed into tenements, crowded apartments and shoddy houses with few sanitary facilities at all. In 1880 in New York City a majority of the population did not speak English. The worst slums in the world were supposed to have existed in Chicago. And yet they continued to come in pursuit of what has been called the American dream.

    America has always needed cheap labor, and that provided much of the impetus for immigration, as it still does. In the last decades on the 19 century the building of the transcontinental railroads demanded huge numbers of laborers, and it was Irish and Italians and Chinese who did much of that work. By 1910 United States had over 200,000 miles of railroads, about as much as the rest of the world combined, and when that great building boom subsided, the immigrants remained.

    Since most of the Chinese who came to the country to work had been males, and few came with families, when the railroads were finished, they found themselves living in ghettos in the western cities with little female companionship. The social problems which arose from that were predictable, and the American response was to pass laws to restrict and discriminate against those of Asian ethnicity.

    Since much of the wealth in the nation was consolidated in the hands of predominantly white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, the social tensions that resulted from immigration and the great disparity in wealth that grew larger in the age of industrialization were multiplied. In the 1920s the doors began to close for a time. Severe restrictions were placed upon immigration, and a quota system was established whereby those who were admitted to the United States were most likely to gain entry if they were of the ethnic groups already well-established here. When an annual quota of 150,000 for immigration was established (as opposed to years when almost a million had entered) approximately 60% of those allowed to enter the country had to come from Germany and the British Isles. The rest of the world had to divvy up to 40% left over. As World War II approached an international troubles multiplied, immigration slowed once more, only to begin again after the war when millions of displaced persons, wartime refugees far from their homes, sought new beginnings her and elsewhere.”

    http://www.sagehistory.net/gildedage/immigratio

    What is “illegal” immigration but arbitrary standards created by racist politicians supported by their racist electorate.

    Now Republicans just don’t like mostly darker Spanish-speaking people. But notice in the article, “In 1880 in New York City a majority of the population did not speak English.”

  • bernarda

    MikeT claims, “This is why open borders and open immigration are inherently destructive to national sovereignty, the democratic process and liberty.”

    Is that what happened between approximately 1880 to 1910 when millions of mostly poor Europeans immigrated to the U.S.? Of course those were white people, so it is different, isn’t it?

    “Following the Civil War, the floodgates opened once more, and between 1865 and 1910 about 25 million immigrants entered the United States. Those immigrants also changed the ethnic character of the United States, even more profoundly than had the Irish. For large numbers of the immigrants in the late 19th century and early 20th century came from areas which had seen few immigrants to the United States before. They came from Poland, Russia, Romania, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Turkey and many other southern and eastern European nations. Like the Irish, they tended to ghettoize themselves into communities, many of which remain to this day. There are still parts of the United States where one can hear Swedish, Italian, Polish, Yiddish and many other languages spoken in the streets. The new immigrants filled up the cities faster than they could be accommodated with comfort and found themselves jammed into tenements, crowded apartments and shoddy houses with few sanitary facilities at all. In 1880 in New York City a majority of the population did not speak English. The worst slums in the world were supposed to have existed in Chicago. And yet they continued to come in pursuit of what has been called the American dream.

    America has always needed cheap labor, and that provided much of the impetus for immigration, as it still does. In the last decades on the 19 century the building of the transcontinental railroads demanded huge numbers of laborers, and it was Irish and Italians and Chinese who did much of that work. By 1910 United States had over 200,000 miles of railroads, about as much as the rest of the world combined, and when that great building boom subsided, the immigrants remained.

    Since most of the Chinese who came to the country to work had been males, and few came with families, when the railroads were finished, they found themselves living in ghettos in the western cities with little female companionship. The social problems which arose from that were predictable, and the American response was to pass laws to restrict and discriminate against those of Asian ethnicity.

    Since much of the wealth in the nation was consolidated in the hands of predominantly white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, the social tensions that resulted from immigration and the great disparity in wealth that grew larger in the age of industrialization were multiplied. In the 1920s the doors began to close for a time. Severe restrictions were placed upon immigration, and a quota system was established whereby those who were admitted to the United States were most likely to gain entry if they were of the ethnic groups already well-established here. When an annual quota of 150,000 for immigration was established (as opposed to years when almost a million had entered) approximately 60% of those allowed to enter the country had to come from Germany and the British Isles. The rest of the world had to divvy up to 40% left over. As World War II approached an international troubles multiplied, immigration slowed once more, only to begin again after the war when millions of displaced persons, wartime refugees far from their homes, sought new beginnings her and elsewhere.”

    http://www.sagehistory.net/gildedage/immigratio

    What is “illegal” immigration but arbitrary standards created by racist politicians supported by their racist electorate.

    Now Republicans just don’t like mostly darker Spanish-speaking people. But notice in the article, “In 1880 in New York City a majority of the population did not speak English.”

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