Sunday, December 16, 2007

Amy Chua on Immigration

Chua_amy Amy Chua, a law professor at Yale Law School, has an interesting op/ed in the Washington Post today about immigration and immigrants.  Chua has a little of something for just about everyone, from a proposal that the we declare English the official national language to the claim that the nativists are driving immigrants away from the mainstream.

Chua does contend that, as Samuel Huntington suggests in his book Who Are We?, we should promote immigrant assimilation and a cohesive national identity.  I agree.  However, what the U.S. needs to do is to think more carefully about things that Chua fails to mention -- such as that we need to provide more ESL classes and should devote the resources so that naturalization petitions are processed in a timely basis.  Demand for ESL classes greatly exceeds demand across the United States.  Currently, naturalization backlogs are holding up petitions for years.  Both of the proposals mentioned above are more likely to promote immigrant assimilation and integration than, for example, declaring English as the official national language and compelling adoption of "American civic virtues."  Chua's analysis also fails to acknowledge that (1) most immigrants seek to learn English and that the second generation is largely English proficient; and (2) the naturalization laws require a certain attachment to U.S. civic and constitutional principles (which Chua suggests that immigrants need to adopt).

Immigrant integration will be a key issue for the foreseeable future.  We should consider specific policy options that facilitate integration, not attempt to compel it.  Unfortunately, the United States has previous experience with compelled assimilation, including efforts to prohibit non-English language and Catholic schools (see, e.g., Meyer v. Nebraska; Pierce v. Society of Sisters), policies designed to convince persons of Mexican ancestry to give up certain cultural traditions (including foods, such as beans), and compulsory English.   We would do better to learn from that history rather than repeat it.


UPDATE  Citizen Orange takes Chua on in great detail in a post entitled "Amy Chua:  Nativism at Yale Law."

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I admire people that work to build unity where there is division. Building unity leads humanity in the direction of ideals. Building consensus is admirable, but compromising with hate is not. In her Washington Post op-ed, "The Right Road to... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 18, 2007 8:37:49 AM


Amy Chua couldn't have expressed the views of the majority of Americans better. And she correctly describes the sponsors of this blog: "In contrast, this immigration advocates are too often guilty of an uncritical political correctness that avoids hard questions about national identity and imposes no obligations on immigrants. For these well-meaning idealists, there is no such thing as too much diversity."

If I wasn't already happily married I'd propose. Amy, I love you! You go to the top of Horace's list of lawyers of the year.

Posted by: Horace | Dec 16, 2007 3:53:38 PM

You must must have missed the part where she says that we are foremost a nation of laws and that our immigration laws must be enforced. This is hardly in concordance with your positions on illegal immigration.

Posted by: Publius | Dec 16, 2007 4:13:30 PM

I come from an immigrant family as well.Children who have the hassles of immigration taken care of by their parents shouldn't have the right to play the "I'm a legal immigrant or the child of one and thus qualified to judge undocumented immigrants" card. Most documented immigrants sympathize with the plight of the undocumented. Immigration is tricky process with many hurdles.Most legal immigrants know first hand how bad conditions are in their native countries. We the children of these immigrants have not have to deal with either the hurdles of immigration or the conditions in our native countries and thus are unqualified to judge the system. I guarantee her family will disapprove of this article. They are the true legal immigrants, not her. She should be ashamed of herself for saying this country would be better off without her family. Completely ungrateful for everything her family has given her by coming here.

Posted by: RK | Dec 16, 2007 8:29:59 PM

"She should be ashamed of herself for saying this country would be better off without her family. Completely ungrateful for everything her family has given her by coming here."

I couldn't agree more. I just can't believe that any descent human being would advocate to have families separated because the country needs more scientists and engineers.

Worse still is her comparison of the U.S.'s illegal immigrants which are mostly latinos to radical muslim terrorists. If the U.S. were to fall like the Roman empire it certainly wouldn't be because of illegal immigrant agitation, it would be because of our terrible history of dominating other nations for economic gain (See the huge defense budget we maintain, and thousands of bases worldwide).

I find her remarks more offensive than right-wingers because its diguised under this elistist ideal of a world where only skill matters.

As to her rule of law argument, its interesting how she fails to mention that civil disobedience is also a critical aspect of U.S. National Identity.

-Offended in CT

Posted by: RRP | Dec 17, 2007 1:02:58 PM

"As to her rule of law argument, its interesting how she fails to mention that civil disobedience is also a critical aspect of U.S. National Identity."

If you're comparing the civil disobedience of the civil rights movement to that of the amnesty movement, they're is a world of difference in moral justification. While the former has a basis in our Constitutional rights, the latter refers to a specious and contrived human rights claim that ignores international conventions on the sovereign right of nations to control their borders, one that has Mexico as an adherent. Moreover, civil rights movement was a redress of grievances by its citizens against a government that failed to carry out its Consitutional duties, a tradition deeply rooted in the history of our country from the very beginning. On the other hand the amnesty movement is a redress of grievances by illegal aliens (non citizens) and their aiders and abettors, an act that surely was neither foreseen nor provided for by our Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers would surely not approve of the recent contempt for immigration law shown by foreigners lacking the standing of citizenship. The laws they were protesting were enacted by our congress, with the consent of the governed and in consonance with our Constitution. Judge Payne,in his recent ruling in Oklahoma had it right. Illegal aliens, as violators of our immigration laws do not come to the courts with clean hands, and as such do not deserve consideration within our legal venues on the issue of immigration. The remedy for their redress is obeying our immigration laws.

There are no national governments on this planet, with the exception of corrupt Mexico that is spinning this amnesty movement into a human rights issue. Moreover, Mexico is notoriously hypocritical on this issue, excoriating the U.S. for its immigration policies, all-the-while severely abusing its illegal aliens to the point where it should warrant international protest. While the host bloggers never fail to critize the U.S. on its policies, and other countries as well, they rarely discuss Mexico's culpability in abuses of human rights. I suggest that their neglect is motivated by their fear that criticism would dirty the self-rightious mantle of morality which Felipe Calderon, his predicessor, Vincente Fox and the holier than thou Mexican plutocracy, cloak themselves in. It might even turn the worlds attention to Mexico's responsibility for the economic policies that seem to motivate its people to cross deserts and die in the process. The failure of Mexico's politicians to do what governments are morally required to do, provide for socioeconomic wellbeing of their people, has resulted in hundreds dying during their trek north. Strangely absent in this blog is the bloggers silence on the Mexican government's responsibility for this. Or maybe it's not so odd, as Mexico's bad behavior is never on their agenda.

The proof of the failed logic of Mexico and their U.S. apologists lies in the fact that the world has listened to their weak rhetoric and found it wanting. Silence is golden.

Posted by: Horace | Dec 17, 2007 3:44:23 PM

Dear Amy:

I just finished reading your book "Day of Empire". Many thanks for the thouroughly enlightening and thought provoking reading! I enjoyed it thoroughly. This book is an important contribution to the civilization's awareness of the paths of development and lessons from the sociaties and civilizations bygone. Enjoyed reading your book. Please keep it up!

Svetlana (from Latvia)

Posted by: Svetlana Proskurovska | Dec 29, 2007 5:16:59 PM

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