More Resources for the Immigration Debate: Recent Books #4
Apr 04, 2011 by M. Daniel Carroll R. | 2 Comments
In this blog I mention two books. Both are secular; one speaks the case for immigrants, the other argues against allowing immigrants into the country.
A Country for All: An Immigrant Manifesto (Vintage Books, 2010) is by Jorge Ramos. He is an award-winning journalist and anchor for Univision and has written several other books on the realities of Hispanic immigration, including The Other Face of America: Chronicles of the Immigrants Shaping Our Future (Rayo, 2000) and Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History (Harper, 2006), an account of the 19 who died of heat and asphyxiation in the back of a locked trailer in 2003. He came as an immigrant from Mexico over 25 years ago.
In this quick read (150 pages) Ramos contends that new immigrant legislation should be constructive, aid immigrant assimilation, and be more sensitive to human rights. He states—and with this I wholly agree—“The greatness of nations is judged not by the way they treat the richest and most powerful of its citizens; rather, it is judged by the way they treat the poorest and most vulnerable. And today, without a doubt, undocumented immigrants are the most vulnerable people living in the United States” (pp. 28-29). This echoes a fundamental biblical principle.
He gives ten reasons for immigration reform. (1) Because the Declaration of Independence asserts that we are all equal. (2) Because immigrants—both documented and undocumented—are an important asset to the United States. (3) Because increasingly, immigrants will be needed to replace a retiring work force. (4) Because the border fence will never effectively prevent undocumented immigrants from entering the country. (5) Because it’s important that the children of undocumented adults have access to a solid education. (6) Because immigration is an economic problem that requires an economic solution. (7) Because it is a way to help developing countries. (8) Because it will make the United States a safer place. (9) Because Barak Obama promised it. (10) Because the United States of America is a nation of immigrants.
After surveying the demographic growth of Hispanics and its potential impact on society and politics, Ramos’ proposes a three-part solution of legalization, integration, and investment. He develops each of these points with helpful observations and insightful suggestions.
A very different tone and approach is offered by Mark Krikorian in How Obama Is Transforming America through Immigration (Encounter Books, 2010). Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative think tank, and author of The New Case Against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal
(Sentinel HC, 2008). This 40-page booklet is part of the Encounter Series. The thesis is that there is a White House agenda to push for “amnesty for illegal aliens, loose enforcement, and higher levels of future legal immigration” (p. 1).
This little book is all about stricter enforcement of existing laws and the creation of tougher legislation. He characterizes the Obama administration’s primary motive as creating an Hispanic voter’s block, which will be more receptive to their supposed Left-wing “statist” agenda, in contrast to “the Right’s goal of a self-reliant citizenry holding government accountable” (p. 32), which Krikorian champions. Over time, he says, the ethos of the nation will be changed to accept a left-wing view of society and government that will be more dependent on government programs, which can only aid the Democratic Party. The demographic changes are dangerous, too, he believes: “Immigration-driven increases in diversity mean everyone in the society is progressively less trusting and less involved in civic life, less likely to attend church, less likely to join the Masons, Hadassah, or the PTA, and less likely to have friends over for dinner” (p. 38)! The last line of this booklet reveals that the author wants less legal immigration, not just those that arrive undocumented (this echoes his stance in The New Case Against Immigration). Sadly and, I would say destructively, these attitudes betray a distorted view of American immigrant history at many levels and a lack of personal engagement with immigrants today. To say that immigration reform is driven essentially by the Democratic Party is disturbing and blatantly false.
How Obama Is Transforming America is shrill and, I feel, disingenuous. It reduces the complexities and challenges of immigration to political conspiracy, which serves only to raise the emotional level of the debate. Some of the numbers are false, the arguments exaggerated and simplistic, and the quotes sometimes bizarre (e.g., he cites a leader of the Democratic Socialists of America as representative of those seeking comprehensive immigration reform [p. 24]). This is not a useful book; it will serve only to stoke the anger of anti-immigrant groups.