At The Atlantic David Frum and Conor Friedersdorf held a debate regarding the validity of the current immigration system, a holdover for now) of the Obama Administration, and a new more conservative approach focusing on highly skilled migrants and spousal relations over the current system, and massive restrictions on any further illegal immigration from the southern border. Conor supported the former, David the Latter.
David Frum won. And that was not because his argument, eloquently put as it was, was indeed better. Conor is a poor debater but what points he did make tarnished the validity of Frum’s chief arguments, that illegal immigration encouraged crime, economic damage, cultural deterioration and illegal behavior. As Conor rightly pointed out these same fears occurred within the US during the 1980’s, and precipitated several beliefs on the conservative spectrum that illegal immigrants were dangerous threats to society and the culture of the United States. At the time the belief was that LA would turn into some sort of hellhole, crime would spike (as it was t the time) and America may well fall.
It’s very dramatic. It also didn’t happen.
Los Angeles is currently booming, and while there was a shortfall in terms of wealth within California (around 26 billion) it remains one of the largest economies in the world, even on its own merits and not as part of the United States. There has in fact been a sharp decrease in crime over the last 25 years, the culture of the United States has changed, but primarily by focusing on its current citizens, its blacks and Asians and Latinos, and not through some sudden Mexicanization or any such belief. Beyond artists like Jennifer Lopez and Ariana Grade and the like, very few Hispanics have much of any impact on America or its culture.
And yet these concerns, unfounded and historically inaccurate, remain. Conservatives worry about change; they have a preference for patience and a measured approach to any such development while also stubbornly refuting anything they consider moving too far forward or fast without proper consideration. They resist shifts in culture, the detriment to all of this being sometimes they resist it in the face of facts or realities they do not wish to admit. This occurs in other areas, but in this case the focus on Illegal Immigration as some great evil ignores the realities of it (that very few illegals commit any further crimes, and the ones that do while certainly criminals are also soon found. The police aren’t that incompetent over there) in preference of their assumptions that they have no real data to back up. It’s an effective political stratagem, don’t mistake me, but this stubborn refusal to adapt is also why conservatives, real conservatives, lost their own elections.
Reality trumps fear people. Focus on what matters, focus on the healthcare issues, infrastructure, education and urban development. The guys who clean your toilet bowl, make your bed, and pick your oranges just aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things.
(Which is a point in itself: who do you think cleans/prepares your food/picks your fruit for you? It certainly isn’t Americans)
The Atlantic: Debating Immigration Policy at a Populist Moment